Watch CBS News

Engaging Latino immigrant families in Denver PrideFest

The Center on Colfax works to ensure programs are reflective of diverse cultures
The Center on Colfax works to ensure programs are reflective of diverse cultures 01:56

As Denver marks 50 years of Pride all month, The Center on Colfax is working to ensure its programs are reflective of diverse cultures.

The Center's Director of Youth Services Sandra Zapata uses their own journey to relate to immigrant families navigating how to be supportive.

Zapata counsels LGBTQ youth to find allies, those who accept you unconditionally and can help navigate coming out to family and friends.

"You need at least that one person that is going to be accepting and affirming of who you are," said Zapata.

Sandra Zapata, center, with family. Sandra Zapata

They know from experience the road can be harder for Latinx youth.

Zapata's sister helped them navigate their mom's journey to accepting Sandra.

"It may not be as easy to be out or to be public or to be boisterous about who we are and the things that we want to do," Zapata said.

Zapata remembers their biggest fear was approaching their grandparents.

"It was harder for me to come out to my grandparents because I had a different fear, that if they were not accepting, I didn't know how to deal with that," they said.

Zapata's grandparents Maria Antonia Bojórquez and Roy Armenta.  Sandra Zapata

But the response of Maria Antonia Bojórquez & Roy Armenta suprised Zapata.  And while the Armenta's are no longer alive Sandra still gets emotional describing their response.

"As soon as I came out they said, you know what, 'You will always be ours. We will always support you and we love you no matter what.' And I feel like that's what people need," they added.

Today Zapata tells young people what they would tell their younger self.

"It's going to be OK. We're going to figure it out," they added. 

Sandra Zapata leads the Rainbow Alley and Saga programs at The Center on Colfax. The programs help LGBTQ youth and young adults to find support and acceptance.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.