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Orlando-Antonio Carrillo-Jimenez – What Drives Him?

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“What really impacted my wanting to work with those who have no voice was that I had no voice.” Orlando-Antonio Carrillo-Jimenez used this harsh life lesson to propel him into an advocacy role in his tiny home community of La Mesa, New Mexico.

Orlando-Antonio grew up so poor that he begged inwardly for neighbors to help him, his mother, and siblings. He remembers the desperation he felt, wanting just one person to give him a hand up so he could make his own opportunities. As a poor, Hispanic boy, from a poor state, his voice was virtually silent, leading to his disenfranchisement in New Mexico society. It wasn’t until he connected with Southern New Mexico lawmakers that he found his voice and began speaking out for himself and others. Carrillo-Jimenez volunteers so others can enjoy basic human rights.

“My volunteerism started back when I began working with the Democratic Party. I met State Senator Mary Kay Papen and State Representative Mary Helen Garcia. Mary Kay has a philosophy that she follows, even when she has to team up with someone whose beliefs aren’t her own. This philosophy is, “It’s about people.” Mary Kay knows that, to meet the needs of her constituents, she has to align herself with the governor at times. If she supports something that the governor supports, such as reducing hunger in the state, even if one of the objectives doesn’t match her beliefs, she’ll still support the governor in that. Mary Helen believes in the same thing.

“I work with the Colonias Initiative, which obtains state and federal funding to provide basic infrastructure needs to residents living in underdeveloped areas.” These residents may be undocumented residents living illegally in the U.S., or they may be citizens who haven’t been able to get out of poverty. The Colonias Initiative helps to provide basics such as clean, running water and gas service to homes.

Carrillo-Jimenez is a gay man married to his partner of 14 years. He believes wholeheartedly in the rights of gays and lesbians to marry legally. He and Grey Carrillo-Jimenez were one of the first gay couples to obtain legal marriage licenses in Doña Ana County. Given his success in getting married, why does Carrillo-Jimenez continue pushing forward on the same-sex marriage struggle? “It’s when we lose sight of where we come from that we forget the people that may still be there,” Carrillo-Jimenez stated.

(left to right) Dominique Chavez, Orlando, Phyllis, Marcus Royo, & Katalina Hovis

(left to right) Dominique Chavez, Orlando, Phyllis, Marcus Royo, & Katalina Hovis

Carrillo-Jimenez also volunteers for the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, which works to teach young mariachi musicians about their history and culture. The conference is held annually, giving educational music and dance workshops. Students and student groups have the opportunity to showcase their mariachi and folklorico dance talents in the Student Showcase concert.

To understand what the students experience, Carrillo-Jimenez took voice classes during the conference. He has also performed for Student Showcase concerts and for the Spectacular concerts. “I felt the need to better my community and educate it about my culture.”

Carrillo-Jimenez is a very busy man. He suffers from psoriasis and arthritis, which cause him frequent, debilitating attacks of illness. Even so, he works. “I believe in my heart that God has allowed me this disability in order that I can serve in the capacity that I choose.” Carrillo-Jimenez chooses to turn his focus away from his health, even on days when he is ill or hurting. He’ll participate in a Colonias Initiative board meeting, advocating for those who need basic services. This helps him to think less about how he is feeling.

Orlando-Antonio Carillo-Jimenez lives by this Bible verse:

                                                                                                                “The spirit of the Lord is upon me,

Because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,

And recovery of sight to the blind,

To set free those who are oppressed . . .” (Luke 4:18)

Carrillo-Jimenez was addicted to prescription painkillers at one time. “One day, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘Who the f**k do you think you are?’ I was destroying what God gave to me.” That realization has helped him to stay away from painkillers so he can continue working with and for others. It is clear that he has been through a lot – but he feels he has also received much in return.



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3 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Brian - USA said:

    I think that the story in this article most definitely needed to be told. Mr. Carrillo-Jimenez has experienced unique challenges that can provide a special insight into the “goodness of humanity” which we all desire to hear about. That being said, I do not think that the article did a good job of bringing his story to life. To me, it read more like a bullet-point fact sheet, rather than a compelling story of overcoming adversity and how the human spirit, when given the opportunity, can prove to be the most unbreakable substance in the known universe. There were too many un answered questions.

  • Moe - Wisconsin said:

    This story was so good that I wished you’d made it longer and really dug into it. He’s fighting for gay rights, working to better his state with lawmakers, and educating students of his diverse culture. To top it off this guys so great he even battled with an addiction to painkillers and recovered as well as graciously handles his debilitations. He appears to be the sweetest guy anybody could ever know and admire, that’s what I love about it. I want to be his friend, as I think most readers would, so I really enjoyed reading about Mr. Carrillo-Jimenez. I do wish his struggles were emphasized for the enormity they were, and his work to better the world in closer detail, but it was overall fine writing.

  • Justin – New Mexico said:

    I thought this was pretty well written. It gives a (small) glimpse into a man who’s had to struggle, but has the spirit of helping others and creating a positive change in his community. on the other hand, I’d like to know a little more about him. Maybe some more photos, or more in depth personal accounts (stories) about himself as well as others he may have had an impact on throughout his career. Or just other key figures in his life (ex: his husband). I just felt it could have gone much deeper and made more exciting, because its about such a seemingly exciting person.

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