South LA gay teen turned community leader through Latino Equality Alliance after coming out

BOYLE HEIGHTS, Los Angeles (KABC) -- Coming out of the closet is no easy task for many. For Latinx individuals, there are often additional cultural and religious struggles.

"I came out in 2014 when I was 14 years old to my mother and she was very accepting," said Alex Medina, youth reporter with the Boyle Heights Beat. "I had been holding that in and didn't know how my parents would react."

Medina, 19, is from South Los Angeles and said he was concerned his mother's reaction could have been the opposite.

"To some extent, I was very scared because my parents are very religious," said Medina.

Regardless, Medina sought guidance from the Latino Equality Alliance, also known as L.E.A., an organization located at Mi Centro in Boyle Heights for the Latinx LGBTQ community.

"I'm very happy that today we have a space where we bring in youth and families to a safe space," said Eddie Martinez, LEA's executive director. "To learn about issues, to develop their leadership skills and go back out into the community to make a difference."

Martinez is one of the founding members of LEA. It was created in 2009, in response to the passing of Proposition 8.

"It makes me feel good, very excited," expressed Martinez on the 10 years of service to the community.

Medina recently interviewed Martinez for an article he was writing about Mi Centro. He asked Martinez what are some of the things that make him feel proud or empowered about his work.

"And I told him, 'It's about this interview right now,'" said Martinez. "You came in through our youth program, you went to college, and now you're interviewing me, you're being a leader, and I think that's what makes me feel good and proud about the work I do."

When Medina isn't reporting, he interns with LEA and his mom is a volunteer there, too.

"That just makes me very happy to know that she wanted to become more involved and learn how to better raise me as an LGBT son," said Medina
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