Luis Ortega

by Bruce Hyland

Luis did not want to move to Tucson from New York City, but he made a deal with his partner to do so. Sixteen years later, he has come to love it.

Luis was going to be a pilot. While studying for that, he volunteered at an AIDS Service Organization. He found passion and purpose, wanting to work with marginalized communities.. He also discovered dormant talents. He was very shy and quiet as a kid, but when he agreed to go into NY bars and talk about HIV, he found his “voice.” That voice grew louder to where now he actually likes public speaking.

His staff gave Luis an award once which he displays proudly in his office. The certificate honors the gift that they felt Luis brings to them. It reads: Tell it like it is. No BS! His best friend, also named Luis, would argue that Luis O. was always “sassy.” So, it seems that trait has carried through his life.

Luis is a proud single parent of a 13-year-old son. His partner, Chris, and Luis adopted him despite concerns about Arizona’s conservative approach to gay parenting. Sadly, Chris passed away and Luis tells how Chris used to drive him nuts by becoming obsessed with certain tv shows or movies, watching them over and over, and voicing each good line while the show was on. Now, it’s one of the things Luis misses most about him.

Luis is Director of Programs for Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF)