Psychologist, activist, and scholar, Armando Diaz, traveled from Mexico City to study at PHS. Diaz is working on his PhD in sociology at El Colegio de Mexico. Inspired by Cara a Cara (Face to Face) an HIV prevention training program for community advocates that was created by PHS and conducted in Mexico, Diaz developed the educational program Hombres, conciencia y encuentros (Men, Awareness, and Encounters). Diaz's training is designed to reduce social and personal vulnerability among gay men and men who have sex with men in urban and rural communities throughout Mexico. Through presentations, workshops, and small group discussions, trainers focus on sexual diversity, masculinity, history, human rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, and physical and emotional health. Starting locally in Guadalajara, the program has expanded to reach individuals from many areas of Mexico. The group is now working with the Sexual Citizenship Network from Jalisco, National Vigilance Council in Sexual Diversity and HIV/AIDS.
Diaz has come to understand the importance of sexual health education and sexual rights. Although many of the young LGBTI in Mexico are more open about their sexual identity, and there is a growing culture presence with GLBT parades and public gathering places, advocates still have work to do to achieve full integration. Through their research Diaz and his colleagues found that many individuals young and old are challenged in constructing intimate relationships and many young people do not fully understand the potential impact of HIV.
Diaz believes that an empowered individual has the opportunity to look beyond his own needs to the needs of his community. Ideally, strengthening a person strengthens the family, the community, the nation, and ultimately, the world. "The world has been broken through the mistakes of discrimination and injustice. The social acceptance of sexual diversity will help to align communities and right this history," said Diaz. It is Diaz's hope that with acceptance an individual can turn his focus to other social issues like homelessness, poverty, and the environment.
While at PHS Diaz spent time consulting with Eli Coleman, PhD, as well as spending some time at a St. Paul clinic (La Clinica) to better understand the options and needs surrounding sexual health and HIV/AIDS for Latinos. He also made time to explore materials in the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies. He was excited to find books about the GLBT rights movement in Mexico that he has not been able to locate at home. Diaz feels that connecting the present to the past is very powerful. He said, "history shows millennia of violence and discrimination and when one transgender person decides to live as he feels, when one lesbian chooses to love who she loves, and when one gay man decides to assume himself these people are changing the world by breaking the power structure of history. I am fortunate to work with these individuals and to witness the change."
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