Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Glass Half Full

By: Regina Bullock

As I got off the escalator at Jackson station, Miguel was already there talking to some kids waiting for the bus. Decked out in his baggy skinny jeans, chucks, and cardigan, Miguel looked like he had just walked out of H&M catalog. When he saw me, he rattled off some instructions to the group of teenagers with him and then walked towards me. We found a spot to talk and began to chat. Miguel has a very interesting job. He works for an organization called Boston Glass Community Center. This is a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths. It’s a place for them to feel safe as well as a place for gay youths to hang out. Miguel is the leader of one of the outreach teams.

I asked Miguel a bit about his background. He is gay and came out around the time he started working for Boston Glass. “Glass really helped me when I first got into ‘the scene’. I was reluctant to tell a lot of my friends so it was nice to have someplace to go and hang out with people who were like me.” Miguel started out just attending Glass for the functions and friends, but later started working there on an outreach team. “We go to different T stations and talk to the kids we see out there. We just ask them what they know about HIV and other STD’s. We give them pamphlets with more information and also have condom packs to hand out if they ask for them or if we feel like they have a higher risk of contracting HIV from the answers they give us.” He called over to someone from his group to bring him his clipboard and showed me what looked like some kind of tally sheet with a lot of categories on it. “We record the information we get from the kids.” The sheet had different categories on it like sexual orientation, if the used intravenous drugs, if they were sex workers, how many sexual partners they had etc. The information from the sheets was used to get funding from the state for Boston Glass. It also helped the people at Glass gauge what types of resources needed to be offered in the community.

I asked Miguel about if his life experiences as a gay man helped him at his job at Glass. “Since I’ve been out, I’ve grown tougher skin. You deal with a lot of ignorance. Having tougher skin makes it easier to go out and talk to random people on the street about sex. You don’t worry what the people you are talking to think about you. Plus, I have experience on what it’s like being openly gay and I can help the newer generation coming into Glass.”

Miguel Martinez is 22 years old. He has been working for Glass for 2 years now. Due to budget cuts, the outreach program will lose some people in a few months, including Miguel. Miguel has been openly gay for about 3 years. He was born and raised in Boston. Miguel Martinez is doing a great service for the community and it’s a shame that the present state of the economy is going to hinder that. As Miguel and I parted, I walked away feeling encouraged by the fact that there are still people who care about the health and well being of the young people today.

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