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LGBT Center For Gay Latinos In Boyle Heights Will Launch Next Week

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Boyle Heights is getting its very own LGBT center to better serve the gay Latino community on the Eastside.Mi Centro, which is located just east of the L.A. River in a renovated warehouse at 533 S. Clarence St., will be opening this Monday, the L.A. Times reports. It's the brainchild of Los Angeles LGBT Center and Latino Equality Alliance, and will provide an underserved community with bilingual services, family counseling, immigration help, support groups, educational activities and opportunities for the youth, senior programs, and legal services for transgender people.

What makes Mi Centro special is that people on the Eastside won't have to travel so far for these services, like to Hollywood, a city where there's an existing Los Angeles LGBT Center. This is one of the first steps for the Los Angeles LGBT Center to expand their programs throughout Los Angeles.

"The opening of the Boyle Heights facility realizes a longtime objective of the Center to expand services beyond our Hollywood sites," the center's CEO Lorri L. Jean said in Vanguard Now, the Los Angeles LGBT Center's news site. "We have many clients who travel long distances to obtain services at the Center and we also know there is a growing need for LGBT-specific services throughout eastside neighborhoods. We look forward to working with LEA and other collaborative partners to do an even better job of serving our community."

Latino Equality Alliance co-founder Ari Gutiérrez Arámbula told KPCC that also having this Boyle Heights center will change the way some Latinos in the community think about LGBT people. "In popular culture in the Spanish language realm it was negative," she said. "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."

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And viewpoints are already changing. A Pew Research Center study found that the acceptance of LGBT people among Latinos is growing. In May, there were 56% of Latinos who accepted same-sex marriage as opposed to only 30% in 2006, according to the Times.