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A new LGBT center opens in Boyle Heights




Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, an all-LGBT band, sings at the opening celebration of Mi Centro. The location is a new outpost in Boyle Heights as a collaboration between the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Latino Equality Alliance.
Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, an all-LGBT band, sings at the opening celebration of Mi Centro. The location is a new outpost in Boyle Heights as a collaboration between the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Latino Equality Alliance.
Leo Duran/KPCC

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A new LGBT center opens up in Boyle Heights this month – Mi Centro (533 S. Clarence St.). It's designed to cater to Latinos who live in the neighborhood but also be easier to get to than other options.

Alfred Fraijo, who helped secure the building, grew up in Boyle Heights and found it hard to travel to places like the Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood or Bienestar in East Los Angeles.

"I didn't have a car. I had to ask my parents to take me," he says. "Here, we have a lot of folks who live just in walking distance of the center."

The creation of Mi Centro is also a sign that many LGBT people don't just live in predominantly gay neighborhoods – or gayborhoods – like West Hollywood. The Pasadena Pride Center, for example, recently opened up to be a resource for people in the San Gabriel Valley.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Latino Equality Alliance collaborated to open Mi Centro as an outpost in Boyle Heights.

Alliance co-founder Ari Gutiérrez Arámbula says a brick-and-mortar spot will also help change the views that some local Latinos have about LGBT people.

"In popular culture in the Spanish language realm it was negative," she says. "But in English we had TV shows: we had Ellen [Degeneres] coming out, we had TV shows like Will and Grace so it kind of starts to permeate through the culture."

Mi Centro plans to be interact with the community face-to-face through the many resources it will offer: it will host events, offering meeting spaces, provide immigration legal help, organize support groups and more.