REACH LA (Realistic Education in Action Coalition to Foster Health) is a youth-driven organization serving African-American and Latino gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who are struggling with issues that prevent them from fully engaging in a larger community. Lacking a safety net of supportive family, schools, churches, or community organizations, a nationwide network of house and ball communities was established in the late 1980’s and 90’s. In Los Angeles alone there are 17 “houses” which provide a safe support system for drag queens and transgender youth of color who are exploring their sexuality and identity. A main activity of each house is to compete in local “ball” events, where members are recognized for dance, modeling, and fashion artistry.
In 1992, three women artists founded REACH LA in response to the lack of HIV/AIDS prevention education for youth of color. They worked with teenage youth to develop educational programming that was targeted to combat the rise in HIV infection rates among adolescents and young adults. We have since cultivated our legacy into a multifaceted approach that includes HIV prevention education, HIV testing, linkage to care and support services for HIV positive & high-risk negative youth and young adults. REACH LA has built a safe and supportive environment that strives to educate, motivate and mobilize youth around sexual/reproductive health, culture and self-preservation.