Who we are:
Letra S, Sida, Cultura, y Vida Cotidiana, AC, (AIDS, Culture and Daily Life) is a civil non-profit organization aimed at the dissemination of information related to the trinomial Health, Sexuality and Society, as well as the defense of human rights of LGBTI people and those living with HIV.
To contribute to create a society that respects diversity in sexuality and gender identity, as well as sexual and reproductive rights.
What we do:
Our energies and work are focused in four main working areas:
Communication & Publications
Since 1996 we publish a monthly news supplement, Letra S, Salud, Sexualidad y Sociedad, first in a printed edition and now only in La Jornada’s website.
We edit and design books, guides, manuals, brochures, and all kinds of printed and digital educational material. We also launch massive campaigns to promote human rights, such as the photography exhibition “Through Positive Eyes” undertaken by people with HIV in order to fight the stigma they still endure.
In our program of defense of human rights, we have proposed an original model: the creation of The Francisco Galván Ochoa Human Rights Booths placed inside public health centers specialized on HIV care, in order to provide services related to information, tutoring and counseling for HIV people who face discrimination due to their health condition. The Booths are attended by community promoters who receive counseling from a female lawyer.
We complement this activity with sensitizing activities on human rights and sexual and gender diversity directed to public health employees and with the training of community promoters of human rights.
Documentation & Research
In this area we undertake the Annual Report on Hate Crimes related to LGBTI people through the monitoring of digital media in the country. The report is circulated through press reports and conferences. We complement this activity with courses and sensitizing workshops for the staff of district attorney’s offices and with the follow up and/or personal advice in cases such as Oscar’s, a young gay man sentenced to 27 years of prison on account of the homophobic prejudice of judges and prosecutors who incriminated him for an alleged “passional crime” and for whom we managed to obtain the liberation.
We also conduct surveys, opinion soundings, press analysis, diagnosis of the situation and other documents for analysis.
We undertake a lobbying work along with other organizations in order to achieve changes in public policies and legislations, with the perspective of equality and non discrimination for the benefit of LGBTI people and of those living with HIV.
With this purpose we have established alliances with peer organizations at a national and international level. In Mexico we are part of the Consejo Ciudadano de VIH de la Ciudad de México (HIV Citizen’s Council of Mexico City), which reunites over 30 organizations from various regions of the country.
At an international level, we are part of the Red Nacional SinViolencia LGBTI (LGBTI Non Violence Regional Network), which gathers 11 organizations from the Latin America region, and also of the LGBTTTI Coalition of Latin America and the Caribbean, which works within the Organization of American States (OAS).
Journalism as a trench
In 1994, a diverse group of communicators, activists, doctors, journalists and other professionals –led by Alejandro Brito and Arturo Díaz Betancourt, and with the support of intellectuals such as Carlos Monsiváis– decided to publish a newspaper supplement on AIDS in order to counter prevailing misinformation and stigmas.
The first edition of Letra S appeared in November of that year, in the now discontinued newspaper, El Nacional. However, homophobic attitudes arising from the general director of that newspaper forced the supplement to look for other media outlets. It is then that in August 1996, Letra S began a new era as Letra S, Salud, Sexualidad, Sida (Health, Sexuality & AIDS), in the pages of La Jornada newspaper, led by Carmen Lira. It is from this new media outlet that we fought several battles in times of confrontation and intolerance. Thanks to this effort, we were awarded with the National Prize for Journalism and Information in 2001.
Two years later, in 1998, we created NotieSe, a news agency, which combined journalism and activism as a means of information and public denunciation. It remained active until 2016.
Activism as a vocation
Through these journalistic efforts, we became politically involved, and that led us to participate in various social movements, such as the one which managed, in 1997, an access to the antiretroviral drugs in the IMSS, we also played a role in public lobbying efforts that resulted in the creation of an HIV specialized clinic, Clinica Condesa, by the government of the Federal District of Mexico (Mexico D.F.), who also passed laws regarding the domestic partnership law, a first step toward the approval of the law for equal marriage in Mexico City and to have a representation in public institutions such as CONASIDA, CONAPRED and the CDHCDMX Council.
That same impulse of activism has also led us to develop projects such as the Citizens Commission Against Hate Crimes for Homophobia, «You Can Count On Me» Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth Group and its families, and more recently the innovative projects of Human Rights Service Booth within the Condesa Clinic and the Virtual Office for Human Rights and Legal Services, “Arturo Díaz Betancourt”, an Internet platform fostering support and counseling to people discriminated for their HIV/AIDS condition or for their sexual orientation and gender identity through a network of lawyers.
Cultural promotion as a passion
We have enriched our work with numerous cultural activities that we organized or in which we participated, such as the Veladas de Muertos por Sida (Night Mournings for the AIDS Casualties), undertaken in the nineties; the concert of Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas in Palacio de las Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) for the benefit of people living with HIV; the graphic exhibition A cien años de la gran redada de los 41 Maricones (100 Years After the Great Raid of the 41 Faggots), in the Museo de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City Museum), the tribute to Oscar Wilde a cien años de su muerte (Oscar Wilde, 100 years After his Death), in the room Manuel M. Ponce of the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), with the participation of the writer Carlos Monsiváis.
And more recently, our collaboration for the exhibitions: ¡Que se abra esa puerta! Sexualidad, Sensualidad y Erotismo (Let That Door Be Opened! Sexuality, Sensuality and Erotism), at the Museo del Estanquillo (Estanquillo Museum); LGBT+ Identidad, amor y sexualidad (LGBT+ Identity, Love and Sexuality) at the Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia (Museum of Memory and Tolerance); and Expediente seropositivo. Derivas visuales sobre el VIH en México (Positive File. Visual Tendencies on HIV in Mexico), at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC). (University Museum of Contemporary Art).