Henry Maticorena’s mother always told him, “When you are a minority, you never turn your back on other minorities.” As a result, he is fluent in four languages, which he uses on the job as a communications/external affairs director at Andromeda Transcultural Health.
Maticorena spearheads HIV/AIDS outreach for the clinic. His arsenal of tools includes bumper stickers, lanyards and squishy balls that have sayings in Spanish, French, Portuguese and English.
“I want to be able to include groups that may not always have access to these services on a regular basis,” he says. “We want to give our clients a holistic treatment, for both their physical health and their mental health.”
Maticorena began his outreach while an undergraduate student at George Washington University, where he traveled to Brazil for a year. He joined the LGBT movement where the advocacy focused mostly on reducing hate crimes. Despite traveling to several other countries, Maticorena regularly returned to D.C. to work.
“I can really connect with policy makers here and watch changes being made here,” he says. “D.C. provides many platforms in which I can make an impact.”
Maticorena is single and lives in D.C. and enjoys attending events at the Phillips Collection and other galleries in his free time. He is also a runner and enjoys watching movies and listening to Bossa Nova with a glass of wine.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 20 years old. I’ve been fortunate to have always encountered people in my life thus far who never found my sexual orientation to be an issue.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I’d say it is anyone that goes out of his/her way to help a stranger in need. In my personal life, I’d have to say a great man who was there for me when I experienced emotional struggles in college. His name is Marc.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Can I answer both? I just have to say Velvet Nation was the place to be when I moved to D.C. to attend GW. I always had a BLAST there. Today, it depends on the mood: Bossa Lounge in Adams Morgan or Cobalt on 17th Street.
Describe your dream wedding.
I‘ve always loved the summer chateaux on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. My favorite one being The Marble House; I would have the ceremony held there in its ballroom and the reception in the Chinese Tea House in the backyard with all my friends and family.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I’m very passionate about getting every resident the opportunity to have access to services in their native language if they need it.
What historical outcome would you change?
Sept. 11, 2001. It was a few days after I had moved to D.C. from Miami and I witnessed the divisiveness that it instilled in our diverse community in the District and in America at large.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I’d have to say when Princess Diana died in 1997 as a result of the car crash in Paris. She had a great impact on my life. All her charitable work inspired me to become very active working for the rights of disadvantaged people as well as becoming involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and ending the stigma associated with it through my volunteering and work today at Andromeda Transcultural Health (check us out on Facebook: facebook.com/ATHDC).
On what do you insist?
I insist on fomenting cohesiveness within our community to overcome the issues that affect us from HIV to immigration to our youth experiencing homelessness.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
My last post on Facebook was the photo of a business card that reads: ‘Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number’ hahaha.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“My Life as a Socialite: Henry, my Private Story”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I was born this way.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I like to believe that once one dies hopefully one’s spirit will have fulfilled its raison d’etre in this lifetime to continue on its path for continuous growth.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Continue the legacy of prior leaders of the movement to encourage members of our community to be the voices and advocates of individuals whose plea would otherwise be unheard — doing so, creating change and building the path so we can ALL move forward as ONE.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I would walk across hot coals to get all my friends in London and South America to make it to an overdue reunion here in D.C. My friends are family to me.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That every gay man wants to pursue every straight man they come in contact with.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“A Home at the End of the World.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Shaking hands (which I find so limiting) when introducing oneself for the first time. Kissing on one or both cheeks should not be frowned upon.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t want to sound cheesy; I recently attended a funeral and in the reception all individuals I came across shared something in common, how this man had enriched and touched their lives in meaningful ways. I can’t take a trophy or prize with me to the grave. I aspire to have touched and enriched as many individuals’ lives in this lifetime that is the prize I most wish for.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
My American idioms so as not to mess up “tough love” with “rough love.”
D.C. has this je ne sais quoi about it and the people I have met here have always embraced me and provided me a platform for growth that I’m always immensely grateful for.