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community spotlight by david vera
Spreading Peace of Mind
We’d certainly like to think that we, as the LGBT facet of society, are very in-tune
to wellness and all of its branches. Thank goodness we’ve got Hector Martinez—
LGBT Outreach Coordinator for Mental Health America of San Diego County—to
set us “straight.” Mental wellness is an all-too-often overlooked segment of overall
health. One of Hector’s goals is to connect LGBT people to mental health services
available to San Diegans.
“I educate the LGBT community about mental health. I do this by speaking at
neighborhood association meetings, apartment tenant meetings, talking to
bartenders, setting up booths at local events and promoting mental wellness
through our website: I also offer free workshops on living a
happy lifestyle with a LGBT emphasis.”
Indigenous to San Diego, this SDSU alumnus with a BA in political science
moved to New York City where he lived for a decade. Recently Hector moved back
to San Diego. As he puts it, “N.Y.C. gave me a broad perspective of experiences and
gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people, but I am happy to be
home.” His rigorous outreach work with non-profits goes back quite a bit, having
raised money for MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) through door-to-door
solicitations and canvassing for ACLU, Greenpeace and Equality California.
“EQCA and ACLU were the most challenging and the most rewarding,” admitted
Hector. “There are many people who oppose civil liberties and marriage equality
“I used to have the false notion that as a gay
ship now—built on respect and trust. My outlook on the LGBT community has
improved considerably. I used to have the false notion that as a gay man, I was
man, I was destined to a solitary life...
destined to a solitary life of alcohol and non-stop partying. I have since traveled
I have since traveled all over the world
all over the world and met many amazing people who have shown me that I too
can have a healthy and rewarding rich life. I love a good challenge and am always
and met many amazing people who have looking to see how we can improve what we do at work.”
shown me that I too can have a healthy and
One such challenge is his active role with Special Delivery, offering services to
people who receive meals at home. “One time while riding along with a volunteer,
rewarding rich life.” I encountered a young man with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) who had
recently come back from the war in Iraq and was gay. After talking to him about
for lesbians and gays. An example of this was when I encountered a well-dressed his experiences, we were able to connect him with Veterans Village of SD. It made
conservative looking gentleman while canvassing in downtown San Diego. We me realize that I can make a difference no matter how small.”
engaged in a debate about the history of the gay movement but eventually he If only more of us could follow Hector’s example. According to him, anyone can.
became frustrated and flat out said that he opposed gay rights and we should all “I am a firm believer in a positive attitude and giving thanks for what you have.
be locked up in a concentration camp. It made me realize how important public One thing I do to maintain a positive attitude is follow the Dalai Lama on Twitter.
education about issues is.” Even before all of his hard work reaching out, the topic com. He sends inspiring messages to my phone and the great thing is that anyone
of mental health hit very close to home. “I was 18 years old when I came out to with a phone can do this.”
my parents,” Hector explained. “Coming from a deeply Catholic small town in International figures aside, Hector also pursues acroyoga—a fusion of yoga,
rural Mexico, my parents decided to send me to a therapist with the intention gymnastics and acrobatics that teaches participants to focus mind and body. “I
of ‘straightening’ me out. I did not know about gay affirmative therapy at that discovered it on Earth Day at Balboa Park this summer. It has made me stronger
time but I was resistant and rebellious toward this therapy. I lived a long time with both emotionally and physically. Check it out at”
internalized homophobia and self-hatred.” Always the helpful soul, even his ideal dream job involves assisting those in
After years of educating himself and being exposed to LGBT issues all over the need. “I would love to be a doctor,” Hector revealed. “I would like to have a small
world, Hector realized he wasn’t a bad person for being gay. office and develop long term relationships with my clients.”
“I learned that my attitude is what defines me, not my sexuality. When the For more information on Mental Health America—San Diego and its service referrals, visit mhasd.
opportunity to outreach to the LGBT community about mental health and gay org or call 619.543.0412. The Access and Crisis line is also another resource for mental health and
affirmative therapy came up I had to take it. My parents and I have a great relation- suicide prevention: 1.800.479.3339.
8 RAGE monthly | OctOber 2009
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