The quad at Lincoln Heights’ Plaza de la Raza was beautifully decorated with the vibrant papel picado banners matching the seven LGBTQ flag colors. Around 13 organizations gathered Tuesday for the second annual Unconditional Love Rally hosted by Latino Equality Alliance and USC Good Neighbors.

Unconditional Love Rally held at Plaza de la Raza on May 22, 2018.

Food and drinks were provided to all who attended, along with great information on important topics like alcohol prevention, domestic violence and reproductive healthcare. Emily Palbom from Planned Parenthood-Los Angeles gave attendees information about birth control, STD/STI testing, HIV and Aids, and the testing offered from low to no cost at her organization.

“It’s really important that we engage with our community, so that they know that we are here to serve them and we are here to help them and that they know where to find us,” said Palbom.

Among the presenters was Méndez high school teacher Emily Grijalva, who spoke about the importance of implementing LGBTQ studies in a classroom environment. “LGBTQ students need to see themselves celebrated, Grijalva said. They are scientists, they are mathematicians, they are writers, they are amazing people in history and we don’t even get to hear about that.”

“It’s important that they see themselves reflected because that’s empowering,” she explained.

Grijalva is a teacher sponsor for Mendez’ Gender Sexuality Alliance club, which supports students in their journey to educate peers on LGBTQ issues. “I’m raising my daughter and I’m making sure to include picture books and amazing stories [about LGBTQ heroes] that are age appropriate and developmental,” she said. “I just think it’s important to at least push that it’s okay to be different, not everybody’s the same and we have to treat everybody with respect, kindness and love and we need to start at an early age.”

Aris Reyes, 16, from USC East College Prep high school, said he attended the event to share advice from experience and inspire others to create change. “It’s important to have events in [Eastside[ communities] where there’s a mainly Hispanic [population], a specific culture, man and woman, places where [being queer] is not talked about.”

Other important topics like gun violence prevention, immigration, family neglect and unconditional love from families and allies were discussed. It was a good event for people of all ages and backgrounds to become aware of important issues and what can be done to bring positive change to society.

Other participating organizations included the Southern California Alcohol and Drug Programs, the Eviction Defense Network and Violence Intervention Program, to name a few.

All photos by Alex Medina

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