I imagine a world where all children will have the knowledge and access to technology and sexual health that our scientific community is capable of providing right now. I imagine a world without AIDS. I imagine a world where health care, social security and other benefits are not tied to marriage. I imagine a world where no pregnancy is unwanted. I imagine a world where no child is bullied because of who he desires or her gender expression. I imagine a world where sexual freedom and sexual health will be everyone’s right and not the privilege of those who can afford it. Let us create that world. – Carmen Vazquez, Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance Sexual Freedom Summit, September 20, 2013
Carmen Vazquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1949. Raised in Harlem as the oldest of seven children, she attended the City University of New York where she earned a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Education. Eventually, she moved to San Francisco to live with her sister, and it was there that she spent nearly twenty years. Initially beginning work with Women’s Centers in San Francisco, she eventually co-founded the Women’s Building, a non-profit community center aimed at advocating for self-determination, gender equality and social justice. She then became the Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, followed by a position as the Coordinator of Lesbian and Gay Health Services for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. She also co-founded and co-chaired Somos Hermanas, a Central American Women’s Solidarity Network. Her work continued with LGBT rights as she moved back to New York in 1994, where she served as the Director of Public Policy for the LGBT Community Center, and as the Deputy Director for Empire State Pride Agenda.
Vazquez’s activism work led her to be one of the founders of Causes in Common; the national coalition between LGBT and reproductive justice activists to illustrate the political bridge between the two movements through policy change. The coalition has accomplished “broadening the definition of reproductive justice to encompass sexual justice…the right to adult consensual sexuality with whomever one chooses,…and the right to form the relationships and families of one’s choosing.” (LGBTQ Politics: A Critical Reader, 81).
She currently works with LGBT Health and Human Services in the capacity of a Coordinator at the AIDS Institute, New York Department of Health. Carmen Vazquez has become a prominent voice surrounding issues of racism, classism, sexism and LGBT discrimination and how they influence each other.
RHAP understands the importance of coalition building in order to bring different organizations with shared missions and agendas to protect and advance sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice; and have, and continue to participate in coalitions as we expand our advocacy work.