By Carlos Alvarez
Even after National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day passed, former Elan Steve Sandoval-Templeman continues to educate and provide counsel to all who seek knowledge on HIV/AIDS.
“When I was younger, I knew I wanted to mentor young adults. To provide them with a place they felt safe,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
At a young age he knew he wasn’t like the kids around him.
Sandoval-Templeman said that he would deal with being gay in a Latino community by keeping to himself. He attended Salesian High School, where he wasn’t focused on his studies.
“I acted masculine, but I never really got involved in anything. I didn’t want to be noticed,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
During his sophomore year in high school he decided to tell his parents that he was gay.
“They cried. My mom was very understanding. My dad, I felt that he felt he was a failure. That he had failed me, but that’s not true at all. I was born gay,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
After graduating from Salesian in 1999, he enrolled at East Los Angeles College.
He attended ELAC from 2000-2004, taking numerous classes without knowing exactly what he would major in.
“I wasn’t really serious about school. I was more worried about money. I would take classes with no sense of guidance.” Sandoval-Templeman said, on his first two years at ELAC.
After two years at ELAC, with no clue of what field of study he might want to go into, he sought the help of the counseling office.
“The counselors there provided me guidance. I wasn’t involved as much as I wanted, because I worked full time. I became focused with my studies,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
In 2004 he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a degree in sociology.
After graduating from UCLA in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology/Chicano Studies, he was hired by Shield for Families, a program which aids those in need.
“When I started working for Shields, I began to work with children and other people. I knew I wanted to become a social worker,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
He continued his education at the University of Southern California, where he received his MA in Social Work in 2011.
“USC was an awesome experience. I knew I wanted to become a social worker with a health concentration,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
He currently works for the Pasadena Public Health Department as a social worker/case manager.
He specializes in counseling people who are HIV positive.
“My patients range from a six year old little girl, to a 72-year-old man,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
Sandoval-Templeman had a close relative who died of AIDS when he was starting high school.
“He was like my uncle. I knew he was gay and seeing him one year healthy and then the following year a different person was hard on me. I thought that it could happen to me.
“The hardest part was that nobody from the family talked about his death ’til this day. I knew I had to make a difference,” Sandoval said.
In the next two years he hopes to become a licensed clinical social worker so he can continue to advocate for the Latino community. He hopes to start his own practice as a therapist.
“It is such a big stigma that HIV only happens to gay men. HIV doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
In the future he hopes to have his own children with his partner of nine years.
“I wish to start my own family one day,” Sandoval-Templeman said.
He hopes to continue to help the HIV/AIDS community for many years to come.
“This is what I see myself doing. It wasn’t easy, but I am doing what I love to do. You just have to be open to anything. Once you know you found your passion. Have fun in school. Educate yourself,” Sandoval-Templeman said.