Los Angeles native Alfred Fraijo, Jr., knew little about the Los Angeles LGBT Center while growing up on the Eastside. That changed when he became a student at Loyola Law School.
“Being a poor student in law school, I couldn’t afford healthcare,” he explained. “When I learned that the Center operated a health clinic, it quickly became an amazing resource for me whenever I needed to see a doctor.”
Fast forward a couple of decades. Fraijo, now a successful partner with global firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton specializing in state and federal land use and environment law, would connect with the Center again—this time to play an integral role in expanding the Center’s programs and services to better serve the same Latino working class neighborhood where he grew up.
Fraijo and his husband, Arturo Becerra, had purchased a commercial building located next to the Pico Gardens housing project in Boyle Heights in 2014. They created City Labs, a locally owned, purpose-driven collaborative space for innovators, entrepreneurs, and creatives who want to serve the Boyle Heights community. The couple then began to look for organizations that needed a place—or lab—to grow.
One of the first people Fraijo approached was Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) Co-Founder and Advisory Board Chair Ari Gutierrez Arambula.
“Ari told me she was searching for an office space to launch Mi Centro, a joint project between LEA and the Center that would provide bilingual social services for LGBT Latinos,” said Fraijo. “I had this dream to one day open an LGBT resource center in Boyle Heights so that LGBT Latinos didn’t feel as isolated as I did while growing up in this neighborhood. After learning more about Mi Centro’s mission, I decided this was the beginning of my new journey with the Center!”
With Fraijo’s help, Mi Centro opened in 2015.
“The opening of this Boyle Heights facility realizes a longtime objective of the Center to expand services beyond our Hollywood sites,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “We have many clients who travel long distances to obtain services at the Center and we also know there is a growing need for LGBT-specific services throughout eastside neighborhoods.”
Now, Fraijo is connecting to the Center again as one of the newest Board members. As the son of Mexican immigrants, Fraijo wants to help further shape the Center’s priorities to continue increasing services for, and outreach to, LGBT Latinos.
“After living in the Bay Area where I began my environmental law practice, I decided to move back to Los Angeles and get involved locally. I realize I could have chosen to live anywhere, but I wanted to return because I feel committed to investing in my neighborhood and the city,” said Fraijo, who still lives in Los Angeles with his husband and their son. “That’s the same feeling I have for the Center: I want to strengthen this organization’s legacy for future generations. Plus, I’m incredibly grateful for what the Center provided for me during law school. It’s my time to give back.”