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Thursday, December 16, 2021
Location: North Philadelphia

Org Focus: QTBIPOC services

Grant Funding: COVID education & vaccine clinics


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Based on an interview with Ashley Coleman, Executive Director

GALAEI was originally centered around HIV care and testing for the Latinx community, and we recently transitioned into what we call a “radical social justice organization” — serving the needs of the most marginalized in our community.

We know that if we are going to be true to our mission, then we need to meet the needs of what’s happening right now, not what’s been happening for 30 years. So when COVID came, it was like, well, this is the need. It’s disproportionally impacting Black and Brown LGTBQ folks, killing people off in the same way it did during the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

There’s a lot of mistrust of the medical-industrial complex within the QTBIPOC community. All of our staff are vaccinated, and we’re all Black and Brown folks of varying ages, so we’re doing a lot of foot outreach and one-on-one conversations. We’re connecting people to all kinds of resources and saying “while you’re here, you can get this vaccine that might save your life.”

We’ve also been physically taking people to the place and through the process of getting vaccinated. There was a woman at our vaccination clinic who told us her husband is immunocompromised and wanted to be vaccinated, but the bodega  where he worked wouldn’t give him the time off. So we took a nurse and walked to  the bodega to vaccinate him on the spot. They were so grateful, because they haven’t seen their grandchildren in almost two years.

This could be a really powerful moment in time where future generations will look back and say, “Wow, they really took the initiative to make the changes that were needed.” I’ve talked to other executive directors who are trepidatious about making radical changes, and I’m like: We hold the key. All of this is made up. We are making it up. And we, as the folks who are in charge at this point, have the ability to say, “This hasn’t been working, let’s try something new."