I’m From Anchorage, AK.

by Alex Barros

Satellite overhead image of Alaska from Google Earth 2022

I was born in a small town in Cuba called Matanzas to a mother and father whose identity is unknown to me.

Sometime between the time I was two weeks to two months old I was acquired by the mother who raised me. My mother (a lesbian) was able to get us both out of Cuba when I was three years of age. She raised me over the next 16 years with three of her partners in New Jersey and Los Angeles. Throughout my life I was a sensitive kid and my mother protected me gave me much love and raised me for which I am eternally grateful. I was beat up and chased out of at least five schools for being the gay kid, eventually I had to drop out of school. I came out to my mom at about age 16 to which she answered, “I know, baby, I have known since you were in the crib.”

She raised me to be a good person; I am a strong creative caring person. For being an unwanted orphan from Cuba I have had a great life having traveled to at least 16 different countries with a college show choir. I credit my show choir and my mom as the forces that kept me from being another teen suicide statistic. It breaks my heart to see what is happening across the country to our youth. I would love to share my story with teens because I believe I made it through some really rough spots and came out great.

My mother never told me I was adopted; she took that to her grave. She took care of me and gave me a great life. I have never been bitter or angry because she did not tell me. I believe our souls made a pact in heaven to take care of each other. I took care of her during her final years while she had strokes, seizures and heart attacks. I have decided to be grateful for all of it, and looked for the silver lining in my story. The motto that I created for myself that got me through so much of my life is, “When you find out who you are — not who you think you are — you get to become who you want to be”.

Over the last twenty years I have dedicated my life to HIV prevention and I have remained HIV negative thanks in large part to a mother that addressed the issue, and a home environment that was supportive.

I have worked in Los Angeles, Miami, and now Anchorage as the Director of HIV Prevention. I am responsible for grants and programs that span the state. I currently run a syringe exchange, and street outreach to Alaska Natives, as well as an Mpowerment project for gay youth. I sit on the board of Directors of the Gay and Lesbian center, and I am an active member of our small Gay community in Anchorage. I left Miami to find a healthy Gay community and in Anchorage I have found a small loving caring tight-knit group of people.

Sharing your story can change someone's life. Interested in learning more?