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Rising Stars: Meet Juan Acosta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Juan Acosta. 

Hi Juan, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
As an LGBTQ+ immigrant in this country, I faced many barriers in different areas of life, and I wanted to ensure other people didn’t have to go through some of the things I underwent. My lived experience has informed a lot of my professional goals and vision. I started my advocacy journey at age 13, at a time where I was really struggling mentally. Doing advocacy work brought a lot of joy to me as it helped unite with other like-minded individuals, and it quickly became my passion. I have been blessed to be able to share my story and work on numerous stages including speaking at United Nations Side events, national conferences, and more. Now at age 25, I have continued my advocacy and have been able to contribute to many things that I am proud of. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road, I was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and came to this country at age 2. When I began grade school I did not speak English and would have a barrier in communication with my peers. I also began getting bullied at a young age for what people assumed to be my sexual preferences in grade school. Once I got older, navigating things as a first-generation student at a university was difficult, as well as having people in certain spaces take me “seriously”. Regardless of the challenges I faced I am grateful for all I went through because it has helped become the strong, dedicated, and passionate individual I am today. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
The work I do is focused on Mental Health, both de-stigmatizing conversations, and actions that aim to support underserved communities. From working in peer-support managing programs, serving on councils + boards, to drafting a historic LGBTQ+ proclamation for my hometown of Woodland, CA, to co-authoring the New York Times Bestselling “Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community” with musical artist and actress Lady Gaga + other Born This Way Foundation Reporters, to most recently speaking at the first ever Youth Mental Health Action Forum at the White House alongside Dr. Jill Biden, Selena Gomez, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and other incredible advocates and content creators. I am grateful + proud to be where I am at today, for all I have learned along the way, and for all the incredible individuals I have met. 

What was your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory was definitely spending time with my family at the dinner table, and holidays specifically Christmas where we would gather and dance + sing together. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Steinberg Institute
Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth

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