Colectivo Acción Latina de Ambiente

Provided by the Colectivo ALA

HISTORY—Colectivo Acción Latina de Ambiente (ALA), is volunteer-run grassroots organization established on August 1, 2011 by Rodrigo Garcia and Omar Nuñez, and Ugho Badú (a.k.a Hugo Badillo) as the program coordinator. The organization was created as a response to the lack of spaces where Spanish-speaking LGBTQ Latinx could interact ‘in-person’ outside of the traditional club and bar scenes, and the need for an incubator for new leaders in the LGBTQ Latinx community.

Colectivo ALA has the mission to provide a space for the freedom of expression, individual growth, and community building for LGBTQ Latinos and Latinas.

Over 450 individuals have attended at least once, the twice-monthly meeting sessions. In the period between 2011 and 2020, Colectivo ALA has offered over 250 group sessions with an array of topics and activities that include, HIV, PrEP, Treatment as Prevention, Sexual Health, Mental and Physical Wellness, Social Media, World History, Political Asylum, Family, Relationships, Leaderships, Cultural Traditions and Identity, Holiday Celebrations, etc.

The organization started with $0 dollars and it currently operates with funding awarded by Horizons Foundation, fundraising activities, and individual donors. Colectivo ALA is currently fiscally sponsored by VMC Foundation. Colectivo ALA has been the recipient of additional grants by the Castellano Family Foundation, Getting To Zero initiative, Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Supervisor Ken Yeager, and Councilmembers Raul Peralez, Ash Kalra, and Magdalena Carrasco. Colectivo ALA is the only community-based organization focused on serving adult (18+) Spanish-speaking LGBTQ Latinos in the South Bay.

Colectivo ALA aims to engage the community through different programs and activities

  • ALA – Twice-monthly meeting sessions offered year round at the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center. These are formatted as peer-led discussion group sessions with interactive activities that promote the integration and participation of the attendees. Throughout the year we have an average of 26 different sessions in which participants discussed a wide variety of topics. Since the Shelter In Place order, the group has been meeting every week using the platform Zoom. Furthermore, the virtual group meetings now include folks from outside of the Bay Area, Boston, Puerto Rico, Cancún Mexico, Mexico City, and Guadalajara Mexico.
  • Colectivo ALA organizes single-event activities to promote community participation, social interaction, and advocacy. For the first 5 years, Colectivo ALA used to participate with a contingent at San Francisco PRIDE and Silicon Valley PRIDE. In 2014 and 2015, Colectivo ALA organized an annual Summer Weekend Retreat for a group of 40 gay and bisexual men. The weekend getaway focused on nurturing leadership and advocacy skills, strengthening community bonding and identity among gay and bisexual Latinx men. Colectivo ALA has participated in the organization of the lighting of San Jose City’s buildings in commemoration of International AIDS Day. Colectivo ALA was also one of the organizers of the Equality March in San Jose. Lastly, every year, the group organizes a Summer BBQ for 4th of July, Día de los Muertos Altar at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, and many smaller social events.
  • Theater Ensemble “Teatro Alebrijes” – This is a one-of-a-kind LGBTQ Latinx theater ensemble in Spanish that creates and produces theater plays inspired by the queer Latinx experience. Rodrigo García and Ugho Badú direct the ensemble in addition with writing the plays that the ensemble performs. Since its creation in 2011, the ensemble produces an originally written Christmas play that performs at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Center, and in Watsonville. In 2016, Teatro Alebrijes produced a 4-episode webseries called “SiemPrE Por Ti” funded by the Health Trust as part of the Getting To Zero strategy. In 2019, Teatro Alebrijes also produced with much success “Canción de Cuna para Un Niño Herido/Lullaby for a Wounded Boy” which was also funded by Getting To Zero initiative. Also, for three consecutive years, Teatro Alebrijes produced “Carlota” an original play by members of the ensemble, which perform to sold-out audiences that included English speaking folks who attended by the fact that they Spanish spoken play had supertitles in English. In 2019, Teatro Alebrijes was invited to perform at the historic El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista for its Day of the Dead celebration. The ensemble used to rehearse 2-4 days a week at the School of Arts & Culture, and it’s now holding virtual rehearsals through the Zoom platform.
  • In 2015, Colectivo ALA created Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí, a dance ensemble lead by Arturo Magaña. The ensemble sought to perform traditional Mexican dances adapted to the LGBTQ experience, challenging the heteronormative narrative that dominates this particular artistic expression. The ensemble performed at different community events for diverse audiences that included, movie screening “El Canto del Colibrí,” Mayferia, Silicon Valley PRIDE, Mosaic, and many more. In 2017, the ensemble became independent from Colectivo ALA and went under the fiscal sponsorship of the School of Arts & Culture

Colectivo ALA serves the LGBTQ Spanish-speaking Latinx community in Silicon Valley. However, the organization welcomes folks from outside of the area, as well as, English speakers. The goal is to build bridges with other communities by making everyone feel welcome while celebrating our cultural uniqueness.

Colectivo ALA provides an opportunity to nurture and develop LGBTQ leaders from within a community of recent immigrated, Spanish-speaking, non-heteroconforming and individuals from all gender identities and expressions. This group is deeply affected by socio-cultural oppressive factors such as machismo, homophobia, poverty, racism, forced migration, and sexual silence, lower educational attainment, limited access to health care and/or language barriers, as stated by Dr. Rafael Díaz in his study A Sociocultural Model of HIV Risk in Latino Gay Men, that lead them to social isolation and low self-esteem. Carrying many layers of oppression, makes individuals less confident to become leaders, and more vulnerable to high risk behaviors. Colectivo ALA engages the group in identifying and discussing issues and working together to develop solutions to everyday problems. The group helps guide the development of new leaders by nominating them to leadership positions and investing trust and support so they can succeed in the community. The work of Colectivo ALA promotes health and racial equity so that LGBTQ Spanish-speaking Latinxs could achieve self-determination and identity pride.

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