Words by Josue Ramirez
October 19th is the National Day of Awareness for LGBTQ+ Centers that provide vital resources for our communities. Locally, the Rio Grande Valley is lucky to have groups and organizations that cater to the social services, youth support, medical treatment and entertainment of LGBTQIA individuals.
Valley AIDS Council or “VAC” is a non-profit organization that has provided the Rio Grande Valley with HIV prevention education and free, confidential HIV/STI testing for the last 30 years. In addition to testing, VAC provides PrEP, NPeP, free condoms through their Junk Mail delivery service for LGBTQ+ support groups.
Casa Orgullo is the Rio Grande Valley’s first ever LGBTQ+ inclusive Youth Drop-In Center brought to you by the Valley AIDS Council. Serving as a safe space, LGBTQ+ youth can seek support resources here. Casa Orgullo offers virtual workshops to communicate with youth, provides reference to resources, and provides HIV/STI education on request.
South Texas Equality Project or STEP is a partnership of LGBTQ+ service organizations and RGV residents focused on advocacy and the visibility of the Valley LGBTQ+ community. Their online RGV LGBTQ+ Resource Guide provides a one stop virtual guide to LGBTQ+ “friendly services and businesses.” The collective hosts safe spaces and events including the Rainbow Market for LGBTQ+ vendors and allies and support groups including one for individuals who identify as nonbinary.
RGV Trans Closet is a non-profit for and by trans folk that “services trans people to receive gender affirming clothes, toiletries and accessories.” They have hosted information sessions about gender affirming surgery and fundraised to provide pandemic care packages and binders for back to school.
Access Esperanza Clinics is an affirming and inclusive clinic that provides reproductive healthcare services for anyone in the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They offer a variety of services such as Birth Control, HIV Testing, Pregnancy Testing and more, as well as provide free condoms to the community at all their clinic locations.