PHILANTHROPY FRIDAY: GALAEI

A weekly spotlight on Philly's LGBT charities so you'll know where to give when you're feeling charitable.

Every Friday Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) Executive Director Samantha Giusti introduces you to a local LGBT non-profit in Philadelphia. This week, the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative more affectionately known as  GALAEI. (Pronounced “gal-āy.”)

Elicia Gonzales

Elicia Gonzales

Who are you? Elicia Gonzales, executive director of GALAEI. We are a queer Latin@ social justice organization. “Queer” acknowledges and represents the mosaic of sexual and gender identities within our communities. “Latin@” represents the multiracial, multicultural experience of Latinidad. GALAEI embodies the common history of resistance and resilience of Latin@ and queer people. We are unwavering in our commitment to the advancement de nuestra familia through  leadership and economic development, sexual empowerment, and grassroots organizing.

When was GALAEI founded? GALAEI was founded in 1989 by David Acosta and other queer, Latin@ activists to respond to the lack of support and resources for our Queer Latin@ community during the HIV epidemic.

What has been the organization’s shining moment, to date? We have many. One of our highlights was the creation of POSITIVO, the first campaign of its kind in Philadelphia (and possibly the nation) that highlighted Latinos as affirming and supportive of gay and HIV+ people. Many people perpetuate the myth that Latinos are more homophobic or that HIV stigma is more rampant in our community than in other communities. POSITIVO dispelled that myth by highlighting our stories, our community, and our spirit that embodies acceptance, pride, family, respect, beauty, and resilience. Another shining moment was the celebration of our 25th anniversary this past May. In a time when HIV funding is shifting so dramatically and community-based organizations are shutting their doors nationwide, we see our existence as a measure of success. We know we are the only organization of our kind that does what we do in all of Pennsylvania, and only a handful in the entire U.S. We are proud and honored to be here, to be strong, and continue fulfilling the vision of David Acosta and [former GALAEI Executive Director] Gloria Casarez.

galaeiPRIDEIf a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … after someone woke us up with smelling salts and we were able to catch our breath we would chart out a thoughtful plan so that money would last for a long time (we were raised right and taught to “not spend it all in one place.”) One way we could utilize that money is by opening a queer, Latin@ community center in North Philadelphia that included classroom space, a fully operational kitchen, gymnasium, auditorium, computer lab, meditation room, clothing closet, food pantry, and dance studio. We love to dance.

Special events coming up? GALAEI is sex-positive and believes that everyone has the right to a healthy and pleasurable sex life, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. Toward that end, we are hosting the second annual Mr. SEXO contest on Dec. 11th at Woody’s, in collaboration with PhillyGayCalendar. Mr. SEXO is a gay Latino who is the epitome of sexy. He is sexually appealing and body positive. He embodies confidence to be unapologetically sexy, arousing and sex positive.

One of GALAEI'S "Live Your Truth" tees.

One of GALAEI’S “Live Your Truth” tees.

Are there ways I can help without giving money? We love when folks volunteer in various ways from outreach to graphic design to helping make safer sex kits. You can call Tommy at 215-851-1822 to talk about volunteering. You can also help spread the word about our work, mission, events by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by sharing our announcements to your social media platforms.

How can I donate money? Donating is easy-peasy, and simple as 1-2-3. Three ways to give are:

  1. Go to galaei.org/donate.
  2. Buy a “Soy Queer Latin@” T-shirt by emailing info@galaei.org.
  3. Buy a “Live Your Truth” T-shirt by going here.

Want to have your nonprofit featured in an upcoming Philanthropy Friday? Email Samantha at sgiusti@dvlf.org