Profile

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Profile Name

Daniel Soto

Title

Mr. LA Leather Bear 2017

Age

27

Profession

HIV Prevention

Hometown

Jutiapa, Guatemala

Profile Bio

Born in Guatemala and raised in Los Angeles since three years of age. I was an immigrant along with my mother and father. At five years old I became the older brother to two younger twin boys.  I always knew I was different but I did not know I was gay, not until my first sexual experience when I was sixteen. Unfortunately, I was not comfortable with myself to embrace it and explore it. Instead I suppressed it and developed suicidal thoughts and a very bad case of depression. That can happen to you when you grow up in a Pentecostal church and you are constantly told that homosexuality is wrong and that you are broken because of something you cannot control. I decided to go to counseling and learned to love myself and feel comfortable with the individual that I identified with at my core.  I also began to see a similar look on my brothers faces that I once saw in myself. So for myself and the both of them I decided to become the role model I wanted when I was their age.

I came out to my parents when I was twenty one and assumed that they were going to disown me, you know because of the church upbringing. I instead was fully embraced by my dad. My mom loved me but it would take her sometime before she fully came to support and love me again. It took her until the Pulse incident happened in Orlando to realize that it easily could have been any of her children on the news that night. I came out to my parents and the biggest blessing is that my two younger brother never had to come out. They were simply accepted, never to explain themselves, never to present their case, just loved and seen as two beautiful boys. For them I decided to marry myself to my community. I have always had this need to give back to those that have given to me. I wanted to be a pillar in this community so that we could be accepted without the need to fight for it. Until that day comes though, we have a long fight ahead of us.

I now am in the last few months of being twenty six and feel proud of all that I have accomplished. I became the youngest Fully Professed Sister of Perpetual Indulgence when I was twenty four. I have been working in HIV Prevention for 3 years now, specifically helping young gay men of color access services to help them get ahead in life. Just recently became the Bilingual PrEP Navigator at our agency as well. Helping uninsured, under-insured, and undocumented people get access to PrEP at no cost to them because I also believe in ending this HIV epidemic and I do not feel like it should cost an arm and a leg to do so.

Moving forward with the Title I have been presented with I aim to become a stronger pillar in this community. I aim to create more events where people are not shamed for their sexuality. I aim to create safe spaces for all people to come together as one body regardless of what they may look like or identify as. Finally, I aim to make my younger self proud of the human being I have become and build a foundation for my older self to continue to inspire all those around him.

Quote

Our Beauty is in our Diversity, but our Power is in our Unity!

-Mike Gerle

Daniel Soto

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@daniel-soto

active 1 week, 4 days ago