A native Oregonian, Frank grew up the most conservative part of the state, in Eastern Oregon, in the small town of Irrigon. Racial discrimination as a child from the predominantly white community became a normal way of life until he became homeless his junior and senior year in high school. Knowing he was a gay man but not having any contact with other gay people, organizations or contacts to reach out to, Frank hitchhiked to Portland and spent seven years learning what acceptance and multi culturism is.
Frank returned to his rural roots and family in Irrigon as he faced disability at a young age in 2002. As an HIV positive Latino, gay male in poor and rural America, he knew that if he wanted services, he was going to need to set them up. This became the start of Umatilla Morrow Alternatives – a vision-turned-organization fighting racial profiling, advocating for LGBT rights and acceptance, teaching integration not assimilation.
Frank currently resides in Hermiston with his partner Darrell Alston, an African American man from Chicago. Frank Roa is now the Director of the Umatilla Morrow Alternatives, and a core group of volunteers is a leading change agent for equality in an area where equality is still a taboo word. UMA provides free HIV testing, a syringe exchange, and support groups for the LGBT community.
Frank is currently vice-chair for the Rural Organizing Project. In addition he serves with Oregon’s HIV Planning Group, Pride Foundation’s Racial Equity Initiative, and the grant review committee for Mckenzie River Gathering Foundation. He was named 2008 Equality Champion by Basic Rights Oregon; was awarded 2009 Spirit of Pride by Pride NW, and 2010 Mariposa Award, Latino gay pride.
Here's a link to Umatilla Morrow Alternatives.
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