July 25, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

FEATURE: California Families in Focus

Empowering young members of the LGBTQ+ community

California Families in Focus (CFF), founded by CEO Maria Angel Macias and Robert Charles Spieth III, strives to empower young members of the LGBTQ+ community through educational and art driven programs. 

Not only do they engage with the youth, but they also help facilitate a healthier home life by educating parents as well. According to Macias, “We want the youth to heal, but we also want the parents to be able to understand that it’s important the entire family learns at the same time. You can’t help a child and then send them back to a broken home.”

Early on in life, Macias struggled with her own identity as she faced abuse both at home and in school. 

“I was one of those troubled teens. I grew up in a home where domestic violence was very prevalent. At school I was bullied because I was an immigrant, and we were very poor. Kids made fun of me and bullied me. It didn’t feel good to go to school.” Macias continued, “Being bullied at school and having this horrible life at home, I started rebelling. We lived next to the projects, and I became involved with gangs and drugs.” 

By the time Macias turned 12, she knew she liked girls. “I didn’t know what being gay was. All I knew was that I was attracted to this one girl. My mother happened to catch us. She beat the heck out of me and told the girl to leave. She told me that I was going to go to hell. My dad told me that he would rather have a dead child than a gay child.”

After tumultuous and abusive relationships and a marriage in which Macias struggled to fit into societal norms, Macias met the love of her life, Kimberly Maddox, and was finally able to live her life freely and authentically. “We were together for 17 amazing years, and those 17 years were the best years of my life and everything I could ever ask for. She was kind and compassionate. I was all about community, and so was she.” In December 2014, Maddox was diagnosed with stage III C cancer, and in September 2016, she lost her battle with cancer. Macias continued, “She made me promise her that I would return to what really matters, to make a difference in the community, speak up and advocate for the youth. Kim believed that would be the only thing that was going to heal my broken heart and mend my soul.”

Through her own personal struggles, Macias discovered the strength to be a source of hope and inspiration within the community. She founded the all- inclusive California Families in Focus, which officially incorporated in 2002. Macias explained, “We have after school tutoring and mentoring at our office. We just recently did the ribbon cutting for our Kimberly Maddox Youth Dream Center, which we dedicated to my wife. We have high- tech touch screen computers where the youth can work on their homework, projects, and resumes.” 

CFF also enlists the aid of volunteers and mentors to help guide any of the youth who walk through their doors. Macias explained, “Lori Smith is a retired model who teaches them how to apply make- up for glam, a job interview, or just everyday life. She also teaches them photography. She graced the covers of Elle Magazine, Marie Claire. Now she’s giving her time to California Families in Focus.”

Macias continued, “We have sewing machines so the youth can come and design their own clothing. We work with designers and some of the local drag queens. They teach them how to create their own designs, model, and give them skills that are conducive to who they are and what they’re interested in.”

CFF also offers the Padrino Project, which gives custom tailored suits and gowns to trans teens for prom and graduation, parenting groups that meet every Wednesday, and the Music, Arts, and Dance (MAD) Program. Macias continued, “We know that children need to heal. We help them express themselves. We use music, art, and dance as a form of therapy for the youth to heal and to get out whatever’s bothering them in a safe environment.”

Macias continued, “If we don’t empower the youth and give them the skills that they need to be strong community members, we’re going to keep losing them. For over 25 years, after struggling with my own issues, I made it a point that I was going to fight for the youth and to advocate for them.” 

On September 22 at the Museum of Latin American Arts, CFF will host the first ever music festival for the LGBTQ+ in Long Beach. Macias explained, “It’s called the Rainbow Family Festival, and nobody has ever done this in Long Beach.” 

The Rainbow Family Festival will cater to LGBTQ+ Families, children and teens says Macias. 

To learn more about California Families in Focus, visit: https://mycff.org 

Related Posts

Disneyland Drops ‘Boys and Girls’ Reference

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Disneyland will be changing the introduction to its nightly fireworks show from “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,...

Trans Incident At Wi Spa May Have Been Staged

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

On June 24th an Instagram user “cubaangel” posted a video of herself angrily confronting a staff member at the Wi...

Podcast Host Mat George Killed In Hit-And-Run

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Mathew George, gay co-host of the podcast “She Rates Dogs”, has died at the age of 26 after a hit-and-run...

Los Angeles LGBT Center Vaccinates Trans and Non-Binary Community Members

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has made it its mission to vaccinate the  trans and non-binary  community in a safe...

Gaywatch: Back To The Beach

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

On Saturday July 10th Venice Pride hosted Gaywatch: Back To The Beach, a queer dance party at the only gay-owned...

City of West Hollywood Launches ‘Dockless Mobility’ Pilot Program

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

City of West Hollywood Launches ‘Dockless Mobility’ Pilot Program with E-Scooters and E-Bikes from Bird, Lime, and Wheels. Starting July...

WeHo Poet Laureate Reviews LGBTQ Documentray “Senior Prom”

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

West Hollywood poet Laureate, RENT Poet founder and author of “The Poetry of Strangers: What I Learned Traveling America with...

Dogdrop’s List Of LGBTQ+ Pet Accessories

June 20, 2021

June 20, 2021

Dogdrop, a queer owned dog daycare in Los Angeles, is highlighting a list of LGBTQ+ pet accessories for Pride month. ...

Backstreet Boys & *NSYNC Partner Up For “Bingo Under The Stars” Pride Event At The Grove

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

On June 18th The Grove hosted “Bingo Under The Stars” as a charitable Pride event at The Grove’s Level 8....

Drag Filled Cocktail Event At the Beverly Center

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

On June 17th Beverly Center and The Webster hosted a private cocktail event with some of the city’s brightest LGBTQ+ stars. ...

Beverly Center Pride Celebrations For Pride Month

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

Throughout Pride month from June1st – June 30th the Beverly Center will honor the LGBTQ+ community with its long-standing PRIDE...

WeHo One City One Pride Kick-Off

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

On Saturday, May 22, 2021 the City of West Hollywood kicked-off its One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival.  A...

Talkshoplive Announces GLAAD As June Charity

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

As Pride Month kicks off, talkshoplive, the groundbreaking livestream commerce platform, announces GLAAD will be talkshoplive’s charity of the month...

Pride Poets Poetry Hotline This Weekend

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

West Hollywood’s poet laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace and the Pride Poets team will be writing free custom poems this weekend in...

WeHo’s Public Art Exhibition ‘Meringue’ by Artist Kiduck Kim

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

The City of West Hollywood presents the public art sculpture installation “Meringue” by artist Kiduck Kim on display through July...