Affinity’s work focuses on three intersecting areas: health wellness & safety, education and civic engagement. As queer and transgender people of color living in communities of color, we are subject to violence, poverty, structural racism, ageism, and gender-bias, and other barriers to healthy living and being. These issues are heightened when we layer on gender-identity and sexual orientation. Yet, we know that oftentimes we have to be the change we want to see in the world. Affinity works to engage individuals to define and lead community change by working with them to prioritize issues, develop and implement action plans, and creating opportunities to showcase their leadership.
Health & Wellness
The terms “health” and “wellness” have very broad meanings at Affinity. We are looking at community and individual health as well as the health of the institutions that make up our communities, including families, schools, faith communities, and other non-profit organizations. In this area, we develop and participate in activities that include addressing the issue of stigma as a factor in the growing transmission rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, helping to create safe spaces for all youth in schools and throughout the city, focusing on Black women’s health disparities, and working with community to support LGBT families.
In this area we are focused on building an educated constituency that holds institutions and government at all levels accountable to the will of the people. Our work includes providing educational materials for voting, public statements, policy papers, workshops, community conversations, and public policy advocacy. Marriage equality, anti-bullying legislation, advocating for a humane budget, and immigrant justice are examples of our civic engagement work.
There are a number of ways that Affinity works to provide educational opportunities. Affinity provides GED tutoring, care skills work for older adults, tech talk workshops that instills a technological education to participants. In 2017 Affinity will role out a 50 plus job re-entry education series. as well as a financial management series for all ages.
HIV Prevention Programs
Through the COIL Program (Community Outreach & Intervention Leadership), Affinity trains individuals to talk to their friends, family members, colleagues and others in their social circles about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, making life affirming choices, where to find testing and treatment. COIL advocates also distribute safe sex kits and other information at various venues and community events. Affinity also provides opportunities for people to get tested, hosts community forums, and conducts workshops and talks on stigma and other social determinants of health outcomes.
Our immigrant justice work takes place through the Building Bridges initiative, a community-building project. Our end goal is to foster communication and collaboration between queer, Black American, and immigrant communities. Building Bridges projects include two publications, The Impact of the Repeal of DOMA on Binational Same-Sex Couples of Color and Building Bridges Data Summary: Barriers & Opportunities to Creating Alliances Between Black Americans, LGBTQ People, and Immigrants, community forums, cultural exchanges, and multi-issue, multi-identity coalition building.