The mission of OLAS is to foster self-acceptance, emotional well-being, and community support among LGBTQ+ Latinx American immigrants, with a special focus on asylum seekers. Most of our participants have experienced extreme forms of violence, discrimination, and rejection by social institutions, three community and sometimes family. Our program is focused on personal and collective healing in order to support our participants to thrive as individuals as well as in the communities in which they reside.
OLAS was founded in September 2014 by Diana Shapiro who launched our first pilot weekend retreat. Since then the program has grown every year to meet the needs of our community by offering weekend retreats, one-day workshops, holiday celebrations, training, lectures, collaboration activities. We have also marched in San Francisco Pride parades!
In addition, OLAS members have taken the initiative to organize their own gatherings outside of the facilitated events our program offers them.
Violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender leave long lasting, traumatic effects on the individuals who experience it. People who have access to supportive community resources tend to have much better outcomes than those who don't. We believe that gender and sexual orientation or country of origin should not be an impediment to being happy, healthy, and thriving members of our community.
OLAS believes that all people who seek refuge in the U.S. due to homophobia and transphobia deserve access to affordable and effective resources for both community support and personal healing.
"As the Director of EBSC I have worked with hundreds of LGBT clients who fled terrible persecution in their home countries on account of their sexual orientation, and I have long advocated for some kind of continuing therapy for these profoundly traumatized individuals. OLAS is precisely the kind of project needed."
Michael Smith, Director of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
I feel that my life is blessed because I am part of OLAS. It is a safe place that is like family for me. I feel happy, supported, and respected there." -Eduardo (Mexico)