Cycles of Stigma

Cycles of Stigma: How Prohibition Makes Sex Work and Drug Use Even More Dangerous
by Maximilian Eyle

June was Pride Month in America, and this year’s theme in New York City was “Defiantly Different”. It represents a chance to push back against the stigma surrounding LGBTQ identities and lifestyles while celebrating the diversity of self-expression that exists within the LGBTQ community. When we talk about stigma in this context, it is usually regarding a lack of acceptance of the individual’s sexuality on the part of the family or by society. What is less frequently acknowledged is that the manifestation of this stigma often sets off a chain reaction as the individual struggles to cope with the trauma of their sexual identity being denied or ridiculed.

When we think about where LGBTQ culture shines brightest, big cities come to mind. Metropolitan areas like New York City act as magnets for members of the LGBTQ community nationwide due to the more progressive mentality toward sexuality and the greater availability of support resources. The stigma associated with non-heteronormative lifestyles in many areas of the U.S., particularly rural communities and small towns, often makes it unpleasant and even unsafe to live openly there.

As these stigmatized people seek a new life in a more accepting environment, they often carry heavy burdens. Some are material, like the struggle to survive financially in an expensive and foreign environment like New York City. Others are emotional, like the memories of having been spurned by friends and family where you grew up. Though there may be less anti-LGBTQ sentiment in a metropolitan area like New York, many who come to such a large city find themselves unable to survive financially.

For members of the transgender community, their ability to conceal their sexual identity can be more difficult than for gays or lesbians. When faced with this added barrier to entering the “traditional” workforce, some will inevitably turn to sex work as a means of survival. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey studied this and other issues among 6,400 transgender adults nationwide between 2008 and 2009. It found that, “An overwhelming majority (69.3%) of [transgender] sex workers reported experiencing an adverse job outcome in the traditional workforce, such as being denied a job or promotion or being fired because of their gender identity or expression.”

Because prostitution is illegal in the vast majority of the United States, legal and social repercussions face those who choose this line of work, needlessly stigmatizing them and making their lives less safe. They are forced to enter the black market, put themselves at risk for arrest, and are limited in their ability to receive access to contraception, STD testing, and other essential healthcare resources. Though heterosexual prostitution is also stigmatized, the taboo tends to be greater for gay or transgender sex workers.

If the person has been arrested for drug use, finding a traditional employment path will be particularly difficult if not impossible. Again we see the damaging influence of stigma appear – this time in the context of drug use. The War on Drugs has conditioned society to regard substance use as a moral failing, much like many anti-gay groups view LGBTQ lifestyles as morally wrong. Our justice system advances this perspective by incarcerating and punishing these individuals, adding the inescapable and institutionalized stigma of a criminal record.

Just as prohibiting sex work makes it even more dangerous, the most dysfunctional and destructive aspects of drug use are usually products of prohibition rather than of the substance itself. Consider overdoses, which almost always result from the user’s inability to know the content, purity, or strength of what they are ingesting. In the U.S., where nearly 65,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, users are buying their drugs on the black market. They cannot know what they are consuming, and their purchases fuel a black market worth over $100 billion annually. In Switzerland, where the government started giving opioid users access to pharmaceutical heroin and other opioid substitutes dispensed in a clinical setting, their overdose rate dropped by half and the rate of HIV infection dropped by 65%. Furthermore, the rate of new users there has declined. This harm reduction practice puts users in contact with medical staff without the pressure to change their lifestyle or usage.

The long history of stigmatizing members of the LGBTQ community increases the rate of trauma and abuse. (77% of transgender sex workers experienced harassment during childhood after expressing their transgender identity.) The continued discrimination that is present as transgender people enter the workforce forces them to find alternatives in the black market, bringing with it further stigma and legal peril. The consequences of this are dire. The attempted suicide rate of transgender sex workers is over 60%.

The legal system’s practice of legislating morality via the criminalization of drugs as well as sex work only serves to exacerbate the potential dangers of these behaviors by limiting the available resources and adding to the stigma felt by drug users and sex workers. Compassion, not punishment, should be the underlying philosophy behind our public policy. The social and legislated stigma felt by people who are drug users, sex workers, LGBTQ, or a combination thereof, is a cruel burden that must be lifted before we can truly hope to help the most at-risk members of our communities.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at

Sweet Corn Bread with Goat Cheese

by Suellen Pineda, RDN, CDN

Torta or pan de elote (Spanish for Cornbread) is a dense and moist type of sweet bread. It doesn’t have the texture of traditional cornbread. Traditionally, pan de elote is sweetened with condensed milk. In this recipe, I substituted condensed milk for low-fat evaporated milk—which by definition, it is not generally recommended—To compensate for the lack of sweetness and thick texture of condensed milk, I added creamy goat cheese and some sugar. Even after adding these two ingredients, I was able to reduce the calorie content by 100 calories per serving (298 calories per serving with condensed milk vs. 187 with evaporated milk) and about 14 tablespoons less sugar. So, although this recipe may not be as sweet as traditional pan de elote, it is definitely an excellent option to cut down on sugar and calories.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
Yields: 9 servings
Difficulty: easy
Calories per serving: approx. 187


1 15oz can, unsalted sweet corn (Use fresh if available)
1 can low-fat evaporated milk
4 oz. plain goat cheese
3 eggs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbsps. whole-wheat flour
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt


• Pre-heat oven to 375F
• Grease a baking dish with butter and sprinkle with flour OR use line it with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil
• In a blender, put all ingredients and blend until fully incorporated
• Pour mixture in prepared baking dish
• Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or when it turns golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
• Serve warm or chilled.


Suellen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Rochester, NY area. Connect with her at or follow her on Instagram at @Suellen_Pineda

Diseños Milagros, Book of Cut and Modern Sewing

by Milagros Martínez Machado

Diseños Milagros was made with the idea of sharing classes or workshops on clothing in general that is, for children, men and women and created with a simple to understand language. If the instructions are followed properly, you will get the perfect pattern, which in turn will lead you to achieve a good suit, which suits your figure with great style.

This project has been studied for many years. Throughout our study we realized that in this field of fashion there are few publications in Spanish, both in the school system and at bookstores throughout the country. On an international level publishers are searching for all types of literature in Spanish. This places a high level of interest, especially in the countries of Central and South America. This book of Milagros’ Designs, causes great interest for all those who promote the education of the minority class. For those who do not have a trade. This book promises to train great professionals in the field of fashion; men in particular have been great designers such as Valentino, Oscar De La Renta, and others who have great boutiques of exclusive clothes around the world.

My greatest inspiration has been my sons Henry Salinas and Richard Delgado and I dedicate this project to them, as well as to the women who have had to raise their children alone and who through this book can acquire the means to get ahead and have a lucrative profession and be successful.

Special thanks to my good friend Julia Zurita who believed in my idea and was always by my side as I made this dream a reality.

Milagros Martínez Machado was born in Havana, Cuba, on January 12, 1966. Daughter of Milagros Machado and Ricardo Martínez. Despite having been raised within the communist system of Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, her childhood was very beautiful and humble with her four siblings, whom she always remembers very dearly.

Since she was little girl, she demonstrated her love for sewing and fortunately for her, in front of her house lived Mrs. Marta Alfonzo, a well-known seamstress in the neighborhood, who had graduated from the Elia Rodriguez Rocha system. Milagros began to receive cutting and sewing classes. Acquiring a lot of knowledge and learning how to transform patterns. Then while learning she did all the finishing work in the seams that Marta was making. Later, she attended a small course that the Cuban government gave in the Cotorro Municipality that was called Ana Betancour.

Years later, Marta died, and Milagros continued to be part of her work. She also received the qualification of Seamstress A in men’s clothing for a government factory in Cuba that was located in Alverro, Cotorro. When she began her studies at the university, on February 12, 1991, she traveled to the United States with a Humanitarian Visa due to health problems with her son, Henry Salinas. Who was a recipient of a kidney transplant that his father donated. The transplant was carried out at The University of Miami. During all that time she was helping with the household with her knowledge in sewing, making clothing for friends and acquaintances. She devoted herself to making wedding dresses for brides and their bridesmaids.

She became a Volunteer as a Public Relations Officer, for more than seven years she dedicated her time to promoting the myths and realities of transplantation in Hispanic communities and helped many families to receive information and support. She was featured on different television channels such as 51, channel 23 and channel 4 of Miami. She was invited to the programs of Don Francisco and Cristina. Then she appeared in different radio stations within Miami such as, Radio Mambí and the WBQA.

In 1997, her second son Richard Delgado was born, who brought both Milagros and Henry his brother, an immense happiness. Milagros continued taking care of her children while working at home. The family moved to Homestead where Milagros continued with her promotion in favor of organ transplantation, achieving that members of the group Los Tigres del Norte donate $5 of each ticket to the concerts in favor of organ donation.

At Florida International University she obtained her certification as a Nutritionist. She obtained a master’s degree in Psychology from the UNPI International Our Pact University. She continued her studies and successfully completed the studies of Theology at the Hispanic Institute of Theology, being a pioneer of the First Hispanic Lutheran Ministry of West Palm Beach. She also studied to work as a Volunteer Teacher of the Day Care Head Start Program. For health reasons she retired from the Ministry and but she still teach English classes she for Hispanics at Our Savior Church in Lake Worth.

Along with lawyers Irvin Gonzalez and Jose Lagos, she was an activist for the TPS Law for immigrants. She also collaborated with the Association of Cuban Art and Culture of West Palm Beach, making the costumes of all the presentations that the organization made. She was the Producer of the television program “La Pelota Infantil” on channel 12, local West Palm Beach. She also hosted her own radio show on 1340AM in Lake Worth. She ventured into producing and directing the “La Voz de West Palm Beach “talk show program in the mentioned radio station in Lake Worth, along with her son Henry Salinas.

“Queen of Mariachi” Prepares New Album!

by Katherine Glen

If someone enjoys singing ranchero music that is THE QUEEN OF MARIACHI, (“La Reina Del Mariachi” in Spanish) Katherine Glen. The name that her audience baptized her with for many years! An artist born in the United States who interprets Mariachi songs for all Latinos and New Yorkers alike. A singer with a lot of Charisma that fills the audience with sold out shows. La Reina del Mariachi (The Queen of Mariachi) is also a writer, who has published 10 books of poetry, revealed details of the preparation of her musical album.

“There are 6 songs that I wrote with a lot of love for all my fans. I recorded at a studio where celebrities such as Mariah Carey and artists of the Sony Music caliber recorded”, explained. With Colombian parents, La Reina del Mariachi fell in love with Mariachi music since she was little, when her mother bought a record of this genre and decided to change the vallenato and salsa, by the songs of Lola Beltrán, Juan Gabriel and Ana Gabriel.

“The first song that is on my album of the released songs is titled” La Reina Del Mariachi” and then follows, “How Much I Miss You”, “Baby Kisses”, “You Played with My Love”, “I Want to Know” and “Like a Dove”. These are the themes that I wrote many years ago and that tell a story. I have sung many songs in the genre of Mariachi, but for me, these songs have been the hardest to interpret, said the star.

“The first year that I competed in the First Univision Mariachi Festival, next to Mariachi Vargas and in which Ana Bárbara was a judge, was with that theme and I was among the first six finalists”, the only Winner in the state of New York. I have many songs written, since I like to write and every day I get inspired more!.

She thanked all the community and followers for the support they have given her during her career.

“My followers are mostly Mexican, but I have fans from all over the world, although I am especially grateful to the Mexican community because throughout my career they have opened the doors”, she said.

Next week she will perform on a Telemundo Network program and then start her promotional tour.

“I have planned the promotion of the album in California, Miami, Mexico and Colombia; on radio and television, “concluded Glen, who has opened concerts for Juanes, Shakira, Marco Antonio Solís and many more!

Find her on youtube; La Reina Del Mariachi and on google play, iTunes Mazon and all digital platforms or you can go to her website at

The dangers of living in an Echo Chamber

by David Alfredo Paulino

As a society, the internet has been regarded as the great equalizer, it allows us to acquire most if not all the information in the world in the blink of an eye. Now in 2018, while that is most certainly the truth there seems to have been some complications with the internet and the kinds of information that one can receive. The internet has been transformed into informational camps created to house different tribes. The most famous of the tribes are the right, the left, conservatives, liberals, progressives…etc.

One would have thought that as a society this kind of tribalism would have been left in the past, since I thought that we have come to the realization that tribalism leads to a rigid and homogenous kind of environment. To stay in a rigid and homogenous environment stunts growth, maturity, and learning. 22 years ago, in 1996, MIT researchers, Marshall Van Alstyne and Erik Brynjoflsson thought of the potential negative aspect of such a connected world, “Individuals empowered to screen out material that does not conform to their existing preferences may form virtual cliques, insulate themselves from opposing points of view, and reinforce their biases”. Both researches were able to foresee the kind of environment that would be created.

It seems that people are just too scared to just listen to others just for the sake of being proven wrong, because if they are proven wrong then that means that their way of thinking was wrong and so on and so forth. Social media has become this echo chamber where we only hear and see the same kind of information that we are used to already seeing. The danger of living in that kind of environment is that it creates a box that one hides themselves in, and it also supports the mindset that everything one needs is inside this box and everything outside of it is wrong. This kind of thinking does not support diversity if anything it fragments and divides us.

Currently, it seems that nobody can have a peaceful discourse without a giant uproar or a screaming match between two parties. We now speak to disrupt and get our point across rather than listening and understanding each other. Just because one listens and tries to understand the other parties does not mean that you necessarily agree with them. This is how conflicts happen and inevitably wars begin.

Just because you do not agree with somebody does not mean that that person should not be able to express their opinion. This is regarding to many talks having to been cancelled due to students organizing and causing disruptions. If anything, those that do not agree with said speaker should attempt to have a conversation about why they may think that they are wrong. Denying the other side is essentially part of the problem, it does not allow for the diversity and inclusion of the other. This is not to lay blame at a specific realm of thought, if anything having everyone’s reluctant to understand the other side is problem.

This homogenous environment stunts our growth and our potential prosperity as a society. I would love to continue this kind of conversation if any are willing through twitter, follow @Alfredo_David1, so that we may try to understand each other a bit more.

My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here, most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year. Due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.

Dominican Eggplant Casserole with meat

by Suellen Pineda, RDN, CD

Pastelón (Casserole) is a layered or Lasagna-like dish that is most commonly made with sweet plantains. But, pastelón can also be made with yucca root or eggplant. One of the benefits of using eggplant in place of plantains or pasta, is that the overall carbohydrate content is reduced, which can help control blood glucose —sugars—levels, particularly important for individuals suffering from Diabetes.

photo courtesy of Suellen Pineda

Type: main course
Difficulty: easy
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Prep time: 25 minutes
Yields: About 9


1 lb. lean ground beef (Look for 93-95% lean)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 4oz. tomato sauce (not paste)
½ cup water
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 medium size eggplants, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 ½ cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Sal and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven at 375F°
Season ground beef with salt, pepper and cumin.
In a large skillet or medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add meat and cook until slightly brown and liquid has evaporated.
Add onions, cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly.
Add tomato sauce, basil, oregano and water.
Lower the heat and cook uncovered until sauce has thickened (About 10 minutes). Remove from heat and reserve.
Line up a single layer of sliced eggplant on a previously oiled rectangular ceramic or ovenproof dish.
Cover eggplant uniformly with meat. Sprinkle shredded cheese. Continue layering with the rest of the eggplant, sauce and cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.
Remove foil and cook under broiler until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden brown.

Serving suggestion: serve with a light tossed salad.


Suellen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Rochester, NY area. Connect with her at or follow her on Instagram at @Suellen_Pineda

“La Madrileñita”

“La Madrileñita”
by Ana María Ruimonte ©2018

It was not a coincidence that my husband and I traveled in February to Savannah, the city of “Forrest Gump” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt, to attend a Copyright Congress in the Arts.

Savannah is a beautiful and mysterious city. I sat on a bench in the plaza called Chippewa Park and I felt as if I had woken up in the 18th century. The streets of the historic center were very little traveled. Walking, I arrived at a park that was a cemetery. There were some people sitting on benches. Others, they walked their puppy. Tombstones and obituaries told who the most illustrious personages of the city were.

People and souls coexisted in solitude accompanied. I read their stories: That young man whose name I can not remember who died during a duel to defend his honor; the founder of the first Savannah newspaper; Edward Greene Malone (1777-1807), recognized as the finest miniature painter in the United States; Hugh McCall (1767-1823), the author of the first treaty on the history of the state of Georgia at the time of the War of Independence and who said “We will never forget the blood poured out by the suffering patriots and the precious jewel that they bought with their blood will be cared for with courage and the last generations will remember them with gratitude”; and William Scarborough (1776-1839), a businessman and designer of the first steamboat that crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1819. Beautiful historical and very well documented walk in the cemetery of the Historical Center of this city that provided so much information about the War of Independence and the War of the Secesión.

Savannah, city of mansions, streets and phantasmagorical squares.

I kept walking and saw a sculpture of a family of blacks that narrated how they had been separated from their country of origin, separated from their families and finally treated in subhuman conditions as slaves of wealthy families working hard in the fields of peanuts, tobacco and cotton.

A thick greenish river, very large and flowing, which was fed by tributaries to increase in strength and volume, crossed Savannah to reach the Atlantic Ocean a few miles away. I looked around and saw the beautiful promenades full of giant trees from which green blue ferns hung. It is said that they are the beards of the Spaniards whose ghosts advance among the trees gliding in the search of the beloved one that they persecute.

The Pink House was a beautiful mansion, and in one of the most intimate rooms was the engraving of “El Glorioso”, the famous Spanish galleon and triumph of the English navy. The ship looked very beautiful and impeccable with a lion that seemed to roar in the prow and with a flag of the crown of Castilla y León. A small English flag on this along with some lines indicated that the English settlers were very proud of this important naval conquest.

It was not that night but the next day when La Madrileñita and I met. And where was she going to be waiting for me if not in a museum so we could look each other in the eyes? She hung on the wall of a high-ceilinged living room of a beautiful mansion in the company of other paintings and sculptures. She looked straight at me, her eyes wide open but calm and curious. Her mouth ajar and relaxed as if she was still breathing from the same air as me… How beautiful she was! Her hair, gathered from behind with two red ribbons to match her lips and her dress with half sleeves with very wide, flared and transparent straps marked by a golden bow bracelet with big red ribbons on her shoulders. A neck to the vies showed its bust discreetly on which it shone a gold medallion of apical form with three gears of white pearls. In the center of the dress, ornaments with green bows in fine lines as if they were flowers with long stems, which gave the optical sensation of centrifugal force, as if the Madrileñita was about to dance. Dotted gold as snowflakes fell down her dress tailored to the waist. She stood firm in balance and sat with one hand on her hips while the other arm rested on her skirt, showing two delicate golden bracelets. Her fine, elegant fingers met at the end and her nails showed the natural color of her skin.

How beautiful was waiting for me La Madrileñita! We both stared at each other… When our eyes looked at each other, I asked her… – “Who are you?” And she replied: – “I am you”… I read her inscription as I did with her soulmates in the park’s cemetery… La Madrileñita by Robert Henri, 1910 …

– “How is it possible that you stay so beautiful, so impeccable during all these years, my me?”
So many years waiting for me with open eyes to finally see me… so that I could tell her with my eyes, with my deepest interior that was of me, what I was doing, how I was doing with my music and my songs throughout the world … Suddenly, she confessed to me:

– “I am a dancer, and you are a singer. The two Madrilenians. We were both born for art and we will live for it. Do not give up, for you too will triumph. Go ahead, beautiful and attentive, as I am”.

I continued walking, but I said goodbye again and when I looked at her again she confessed: – “I will always wait for you. Come back soon to Savannah and sing for me. Your voice is magic and I, with the air, will dance with your music. We have finally reunited, my me.”

I bought her postcard at the museum reception and brought her with me. When I look at her, I say: – “Thanks for joining me.”

Everyone who sees her knows that it’s me. I know it too.

“La Madrileñita” by Robert Henri is located at the Telfair Museum in Savannah.