Building Community: Francisco’s Story

This month is Pride Month, where we remember LGBTQ+ Rights champions like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and Stormie DeLarverie, three LGBTQ+ activists who were pivotal players during the Stonewall Riots. When Stonewall became international news, LGBTQ+ activists and organizers across the world took the opportunity to bring attention to the unequal treatment as well as unique issues found within their community.

Haymarket Center celebrates Pride Month and recognizes how a sense of community and common experience, like those of Francisco’s shared below, are an important source of support in recovery.

Seeking treatment at Haymarket Center was a huge unknown for Francisco – he was new to Chicago, uninsured, homeless, and had never been in a medication assisted treatment program before. Even so, there was something that helped Fransisco connect to Haymarket Center and our treatment staff.

“He saw something in me first, he was part of the LGBTQ mafia and so am I, so he recognized that in me, saw someone in the community and empathized. He threw words of encouragement at me constantly.”

It was that connection to his community that he found within Haymarket Center that helped provide Francisco the motivation and support he needed.

At this point, Francisco is happy to report that “when someone asks me ‘how are you doing, how’s life’ I respond, ‘boring and peaceful’.” With the help of staff that could connect with Francisco, he has come to a new mindset. “If I can control my thoughts, I can control my destiny.”

Francisco has made helping others struggling with substance use disorder part of his recovery as well. He’s worked with Haymarket Center as a part of our Outreach Team at O’Hare, he works as a Health Navigator as a part of the Minority Aids Initiative, and is currently enrolled in CADC courses to become a treatment provider.

Francisco has one patient he reflects on, who is a part of Mosaic – the LGBTQ group at Haymarket Center. He remembers when he spoke with this patient after he had graduated from detox and was deciding what to do next, whether to remain in a recovery home at Haymarket Center or leave. “I tell him, that’s great! Just think about staying too. We want you to learn how to swim before we throw you in the pool. And swim good! If we just teach you how to float, you’ll get tired, and you might drown. What you’ve been doing so far is working, so just consider that.”

Francisco is a powerful example of why we at Haymarket Center know it is so important to celebrate Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community. The experience of another member of the community recognizing the whole human transformed Francisco’s life, which has allowed Francisco to do the same for other members of his community.

Join our mailing list to see more stories like Francisco’s.

Leave a Reply