A Year-End Message from Lance Toma
2012 was marked by deep changes in the health care system, though many of them depended on the results of our presidential and Congressional elections. In 2013, we start the year with the inauguration of President Obama to his second term, seven LGBT members of Congress, and a more tangible future for the Affordable Care Act. Lance Toma, executive director of A&PI Wellness Center, discusses the impact of the election on our current strategy and future vision.
Four years ago at President Obama's first inauguration, I was in Washington, DC with my husband and our son. I remember shifting between disbelief and excitement as I participated in this historic moment. I remember being so cold, but not feeling cold. Everyone on the Mall was emanating this wonderful heat and energy that seemed to come from pure joy and happiness. I feel that same radiance now, that same hope for our future.
I watched the inauguration and State of the Union address here in San Francisco with dear friends and scores of colleagues. President Obama spoke of Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, placing LGBT rights on equal footing with the women's movement and African American civil rights marches. He spoke of health care and immigration reform. And, in his State of the Union address, he acknowledged our collective work to realize an AIDS-free generation.
An economic truth is being established. People at lower socio-economic levels are worth investments from our country. Everyone in our country, from the poorest to the wealthiest, is receiving some form of help. Call it tax deductions or credits or loopholes, means-tested benefits or welfare or food stamps, Medicaid or Medicare or social security. We are all recipients of government support, and we all deserve these benefits. Even undocumented immigrants who are faithfully contributing to our society deserve these benefits and a path to citizenship.
At A&PI Wellness Center, we believe that everyone deserves to be healthy and needs access to the highest quality health care. We also know that health and wellness depend on equality; without it, we will face ever-growing socio-economic and health disparities. This is especially true for the communities we serve—including African American, Latino, and A&PI gay and bisexual men; transgender women and men of all races; the homeless in the Tenderloin; people living with HIV; and A&PI families and immigrants in San Francisco. To best serve our communities, we must continue to expand our core medical services as an anchor institution in the Tenderloin and a vital part of San Francisco's health care system. We will become a primary health care provider to communities of color and those most overlooked in our society. We will continue our fight for the advancement of our communities' health, wellness and equality.
As I look to our future, I revel in the simple and powerful words of Inaugural poet Richard Blanco: one sun, one sky, one moon, one ground, and this idea of a new constellation yet to be mapped and named. It is this constellation that circumscribes and connects all of us. It will transform our lives and be well worth the work, the patience, and the struggle.