Parades, marches, and countless other events will finally be returning to San Francisco this weekend as the city hosts its first Pride celebration after two years of coronavirus restrictions.
The staff from the San Francisco Community Health Center (SFCHC) has been hard at work organizing and assisting with various events for San Francisco Pride 2022.
"Our theme at the San Francisco Community Health Center is 'Infinite Love Unites' along with the theme of San Francisco which is 'Love Will Keep Us Together.' That's exactly what we need to be doing right now more than ever in order to combat all the hate and violence and anti-trans and anti-LGBT kind of backlash that we are seeing across the country," SFCHC chief executive officer Japanese-American Lance Toma said.
For over 30 years, the SFCHC has provided services and resources to members of the LGBTQ+ community in the city, including Asian and Pacific Islanders. They are strategically placed in the Tenderloin district which can be described as the epicenter of homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and HIV cases in San Francisco.
"I think the work never stops. We always have to make sure we are present in all places we have to be present at, especially where decisions are being made not only for the AAPI community but for everybody who has many intersectionalities when it comes to communities," SFCHC managing director Filipino American Nicky 'Tita Aida' Calma noted.
The SFCHC will be offering free HIV and Hepatitis C testing throughout the various events during Pride weekend. According to the nonprofit group, the pandemic made it harder for people to get tested, while others didn’t know it was available.
The group's HIV prevention program manager Fil-Am Rowland Mendoza said, "HIV is not a death sentence anymore. I think we’ve gone through so many years in improvement for treatment purposes. It’s important to be aware of what HIV is and how it's transmitted. I think education is such a great key to have. Once you know the facts we can break down the stigma."
The SFCHC vows to continue to organize and fight against issues that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community such as anti-trans legislation that bars or criminalizes healthcare for trans youth, restricting trans students’ ability to fully participate in school and sports or making it more difficult for them to get identification documents with their name and gender.
"To be trans or even to be gay, you’re living your truth and that’s what really matters: is to live your truth. Because if you don’t live your truth, you won’t be happy," SFCHC program supervisor for trans services Fil-Am Erica Reyes asserted.
Filipino and Filipino American talent such as American Idol’s Jasmine Trias, X Factor USA’s Ellona Santiago, and international singer Kiana V will be headlining the API LGBT Stage on Sunday, June 26.