After being a professor for eight years, Dr. Hector Torres said he "felt the need to be closer to the LGBT community and more involved in direct services."
He landed at the Center on Halsted in June, which he tagged as "the ideal location."
"After taking a class on LGBTQ psychology, I volunteered for an LGBT agency in Puerto Rico. At that time my job was to go to gay bars and distribute condoms. This lead to an increased interest in providing education and services to the LGBTQ community," he said.
Torres was raised in a Christian household, so he admitted that he "struggled a lot with accepting my sexual orientation." He received psychotherapy, which helped a lot, he said. So, when it was time to go to college, "I decided I wanted to learn more about myself and about how to help others like me," he said.
When he first started in college, Torres started toward a degree in architecture, but after a paper on 'the psychology behind designing spaces,' he promptly switched majors.
"My work now includes supervision of staff and interns, meeting and counseling patients, creating reports, some administrative tasks, some educational tasks, and figuring out ways to provide the best possible services to our community," Torres said. "My [career] goals are to strengthen our department and help the LGBTQ community identify it as a remarkable resource for their well-being."
Torres has nothing but praise for his co-workers at the Center, tagging the crew as "friendly, smart and helpful."
"I think the reason everyone [at the Center] is in a good mood and is so nice is because all of us are clear that we have a common mission, which is the well-being of our community," he said.
The drawback is, he said, the stress involved.
Torres will be part of the Feel Good Fair, an agency-wide health fair, at the Center on Halsted on Saturday, Aug. 29, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
"Being raised in a very religious family was hard," he said. "As a Latino, my family has always been my center and essential to me. Once I came out I questioned if I was going to lose the love and acceptance of my family. Even though it took many years, I am happy that my family has developed and become a very accepting and supportive family. I love them greatly and I am grateful that their love for me helped them get rid of stigma and prejudices some religions propagate."
Neighborhood: Ukrainian Village
Relationship status: Married in 2014
Background: Originally from Puerto Rico, has lived in Chicago for six years
Job title: Director of Behavioral Health Services, Center on Halsted
Hobbies: Theater, gym
Favorite movies: Undertow, All About My Mother and Shawshank Redemption
Favorite pizza topping: Pepperoni
-Little-known fact: "I am [the] co-author of a book titled Building a Better Man: A Blueprint for Decreasing Violence and Increasing Prosocial Behavior in Men."