By Juan Carlos Vega, Guest Blogger
Reporting from 2010 National Coalition for LGBT Health Meeting
From the beginning of the keynote address by Mr. Cornelius Baker of the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition, I realized that the Annual Meeting & 10th Anniversary Celebration of the National Coalition for LGBT Health is providing me with valuable knowledge that will benefit the advancement of LGBT health work in Puerto Rico. Learning the history of the National Coalition for LGBT Health helped me to envision meetings with the Secretary of Health in Puerto Rico to discuss LGBT health and inclusion, just like the Coalition did with the U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary in the earlier years of the group. Later, during the Panel Discussion: Working on Coalitions as Part of the LGBT Health Movement, it was expressed that the creation of a coalition is always a work in progress. It can start with a simple conference call to exchange ideas among those interested in LGBT health. That particular session gave me basic ideas as I navigate the field to collectively gather LGBT and ally individuals in Puerto Rico to exchange ideas, realities and concerns to create one united voice on health issues for the LGBT community in the island.
The basic question for my current work is: why do we want to create an LGBT health work group in Puerto Rico? Because a group of individuals will bring different voices, backgrounds, and perspectives giving strength to a movement. Because it brings people from different sectors of society and surfaces commonalities at the table. Because it can help connect other LGBT groups to bring health issues within their own mission, and for my own goal–to build local leadeship.