New health center for gay South LA

Kevin Tsukii

The new Gleicher / Chen Health Center is located at 3743 S. La Brea Ave. and officially opened on Oct. 1. | Kevin Tsukii

Vallerie Wagner swears she’s not the sex police.

“Sex should be fun,” Wagner said in a new office still smelling of fresh paint.

She’s sex-positive, but fighting a battle to keep the citizens of South L.A. HIV-negative. Wagner runs the Gleicher/Chen Health Center which is part of APLA Health & Wellness, the first Federally Qualified Health Center in South L.A. aimed at serving both HIV-negative and -positive people of color. According to the Federal HIV/AIDS Web Council, this is the population most affected by AIDS.

The health center resides at the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Rodeo Road in the Baldwin Hills Shopping Center and aims to serve the predominantly Black gay community of South L.A.

The 6,700-square-foot building is outfitted with five exam rooms, a blood lab, a state-of-the-art dental clinic and three counseling rooms. The modern furniture and vibrant colors make the space feel like a welcoming lounge.

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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in South LA

By Claire Pires
Annenberg Radio News

In honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, “In the Meantime” provided free HIV testing and distributed condoms to the community.

image“We spend time in the black community because it’s one of the communities that’s most at risk in the United States. We’re talking about 12% of the population that’s responsible for 40% of the new infections,” said James Vellequette, director of condom-provider Condom Nation.

At the protest, USC student Kai Green rallied the crowd when he spoke of how he stands with the people “who dare to fight and say I am black and gay.”

Local South L.A. resident Vanessa Robinson was more skeptical of the movement because she does not want her son to grow up in “that type of environment,” and says she grew up attending church.

Homosexuality has not always been accepted in the church, but Reverend Russell Thornhill, co-pastor of the Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, urged the crowd to “stand” and support this new pro-gay movement. image

“It’s a call that says that we won’t stand for the transmission of HIV and AIDS in our community,” said Reverend Thornhill.

Members of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and TrueEvolution, Inc. also spoke and urged protestors and listeners to get tested for HIV in the buses behind them.

As they chanted in front of a bus covered in a large poster with “We get tested” printed next to two shirtless men embracing, the protestors waved posters and cheered with honking cars as they advocated to end discrimination against African American gay men.image

Be mindful of how you use the word ‘gay’

This article also appeared in the Toiler Times, the student newspaper of Manual Arts High School.

By Carla DeLeon

When the word “gay” is mentioned to you, what’s the first thing that pops in your mind? To some people it’s simply a way of joking with each other, but what if you were to say it to the wrong person unintentionally? How do you think he or she would feel?

GLTBI stands for gay, lesbian, transgender, bi, intersex. I’m sure most people know what gay, lesbian, transgender, and bi are, but do you know what intersex is? Intersex is a person who physically looks like a male or female but claim to be the opposite.

I recently heard the term. My teacher explained to me what the word is, and I learned that if you’re an intersex, you know deep inside of you, that you are the opposite sex of what you look like. There is an issue going around in school, in which teachers and staffs are getting trained for. For example, if we have a student who physically looks like a male, but claims to be a female, he has the right to use the female’s restroom. For those boys who think they can finally go in there with their girlfriend, it’s not as easy as it sounds. A security needs to make sure there are no girls in the restroom in order to for the other student to go in.

Since a very young age, I’ve seen kids bullying others about their perceived sexuality, simply because of the way they looked or behaved. The trouble begins when students who may be gay begin to start feeling rejected and don’t feel accepted by everyone. Although many people may not realize it, this can be an early sign of depression

After the years go by, depression may lead to much more serious things. The maltreatment may not stop and the depressions will most likely increase. Depression may lead to suicides. Once people start feeling suicidal, everything becomes very serious.

While watching the news, you may come across a teenager committing suicide for not being accepted for who they are. You may stumble across this sort of news every so often. The most recent data from the American Association of Suicidology shows that there are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses ever year. Most of the time, this kind of news may go unheard, it’s more of a hidden problem.

At Manual Arts High School, I’ve seen many things. For instance, while in class, I have heard classmates call other students names such as “fagot and gay,” but they do it basically to call each other names. Students are always teasing each about their manhood. In this school, being called these names are on a constant basis, but what about for those who really are gay?

I have a friend who is bi, and whenever she hears the word gay, she gets offended. How wouldn’t she when people are shouting out words that are offensive to others? Even if the word is said to her or someone else, she is proud to be the way she is, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life itself is hard enough, but why make it more difficult by insulting others? People who are gay are humans too and deserve the respect from others.