La'Toya Swan

As Interviewed by Colleen Hoffman, February 28, 2019

La'Toya Swan: In Her Own Words

My name is Latoya Swan. My community involvement is: I've been in the HIV field since 1992, but I've always been working in social justice community engagement from oh, high school, so my main focus is women's health or women's social justice as well as infant health and HIV service. My experiences have been everything from good to uncomfortable.

I think it's very important that I am one of those women that advocate for women of color just because I am a woman of color. Not only that is that a lot of women don't know how to advocate for themselves. They don't know how to access the resources. They don't know how to get a support system built for themselves. Support is a huge advocacy -- plus as long as you have other people out in the world that are willing to advocate for you and help you advocate, the more voices, the stronger that you are. So my experiences have been really, well -- there are some times where you have to fight more than others. Women get paid less than men, sometimes, depending upon the job -- and sometimes the women are expected because they look a certain way that they're only supposed to do certain kinds of jobs, maybe a waitress or be a secretary.

At what age did you decide this is going to be a passion of yours?

I would say very early on, maybe about 10 or 11, my mom and my grandmother, I always saw them help people. We've always been community members where we did outreach or we served food to the homeless or went to a homeless shelter and dedicated our time. So as I grew up I always said I wanted to be like my mom and my grandmother, and so since they gave back to the community, I wanted to do the same thing.

What are some areas that you've seen movement towards equality, areas where you have not?

Some areas where I've seen movement in equality. Well, definitely every day. Just the simple things. Being able to share gender bathrooms, having the ability to go to places where you see all genders, all races. I know some cultures kind of like to stay in their own little places. They only go here. LGBTQ people only go in certain areas of Austin, but now I'm seeing that we can all come together and eat and socialize and share what we go through every day.