5 questions with Fernie Sanchez
Fernie Sanchez is the intake supervisor for AIDS Arms Network. He is also president of Valiente, an organization for GLBT Latinos in North Dallas that was formed in November, 2004.
How did you begin working with AIDS Arms?
I have been with AIDS Arms since 1995. Before that, I worked with kids in a psychiatric setting. But after watching most of my friends die in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I knew I wanted to do something to help. And I am still here.
How did you get involved with Valiente?
In the beginning, AIDS Arms provided meeting space and technical support for the group. I started out as a consultant for the two students who initially put the organization together. I had no intention of holding an office in the organization. But then last December, I was elected as president of the board, so here I am.
What prompted the formation of Valiente?
There have been other GLBT Latino groups in this area, and they all disappeared. Some went away very quickly. Others just faded away eventually. But for a long time, there was no organization devoted to the GLBT Latino community. There is obviously a need for it; we have a page on MySpace.com that gets 300 to 400 hits a day. There are obviously a lot of GLBT Latinos out there, and with everything happening in the world today, it’s important that gay Latinos get involved and really take part in what’s going on.
What is “Performing for a Dream”?
It’s a talent show kind of modeled on “American Idol.” We chose four beneficiaries LifeWalk, the transgender group GEAR, AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County and the Greater Dallas Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and each Friday through Aug. 18 at Havana, four contestants representing one each of those beneficiaries perform for a panel of judges, and we raise money for those organizations.
Why is it important for Valiente to participate in non-gay Hispanic community events?
We are all part of the community, and we have to think about the big picture. If we are going to gain visibility and acceptance, we need to be out there, working to show that we are just as concerned about the community at large as anybody else.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 4, 2006.