Eduardo Bouche is an El Paso native who has been involved with the LGBTQ+ community since the 1990s. Eduardo began working as the director of the Stop AIDS Project within El Paso in 1992. The aim of the Stop AIDS Project was to provide a healthy approach for gay men to educate themselves on practicing safe sex as well as encouraging them to embrace their sexuality. The Stop AIDS Project was an initiative, offering HIV testing and workshops. The first public recognition of Eduardo’s work within the LGBTQ+ community was in June of 1994 when a column in the El Paso Times newspaper was released highlighting the Third Annual International Candlelight AIDS vigil which took place downtown. People gathered at this vigil and listened to speakers and singers for an hour and a half, before marching with candles and balloons down Mesa St., to San Antonio St., to Stanton, and eventually to the bridge linking El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. There, they met with a group from Juárez called Dos Naciones, Un Corazon (Two Nations, One Heart). Eduardo was in attendance at this event to show support and spread awareness of the AIDS epidemic.
In January of 1995, the Southwest AIDS Committee (SWAC) hosted a fashion show charity event in an effort to raise money to fight AIDS. This event included an exhibit of modern art, a dance performance, and live music from three rock bands as well as a classical music ensemble. Additionally, a table full of literature gave tips to attendees on preventing the spread of AIDS. The event raised about $2,000 in total for the SWAC. Eduardo, who was a member of the SWAC at the time, was also in attendance at the event. He was featured in the El Paso Times newspaper with some insight on the event’s success: “I think we are breaking ground and innovating here with the fashion show… We’re ready for this, even though many people perceive El Paso as being conservative” (Eduardo Bouche, El Paso Times 1995).
In June of the same year, the Fourth Annual International Candlelight AIDS Vigil was held downtown. Eduardo was one of many sponsors in attendance of this vigil and shared his hopes of the event’s outcome: “We want to get people involved, to realize that they can make a difference individually” (Eduardo Bouche, El Paso Times 1995). About 400 El Pasoans and Juarenses turned out to this event, showing a spike from the previous year’s outcome. “Last year, we had a little more than 300 people attend… This was the biggest turnout so far. The vigil’s message went beyond remembering people who have died of AIDS. The message was for people to get involved and be proactive,” Eduardo said. In April of 1998, an El Paso Times column announced Planned Parenthood’s receiving of a grant of over $8,000 from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The foundation delivers care and services to AIDS patients and organizations that provide education about HIV and AIDS prevention. The grant was used to buy supplies for hygiene and safe-sex kits that were handed out to sex workers and homeless youth on the streets. Eduardo, who was the director of prevention and education with SWAC at the time, showed interest in applying for a grant from the Taylor foundation seeing as they also had a street outreach program: “[The free gift bags] are a good ice breaker and very efficient way of doing street outreach” (Eduardo Bouche, El Paso Times 1998). He added that he and a staff of six people went out four nights a week to give out informational packets and safe-sex kits.
In addition to his involvement with the Stop AIDS Project and the SWAC, Eduardo worked as an editor for “Backstreet”, an LGBTQ publication that provided information on HIV/AIDS as well as sexual health outreach. Eduardo was also the editor for “El Callejón”, a bilingual publication that focused on HIV/AIDS and sexual health outreach, distributed in El Paso and Juárez. He is also an intravenous Drug Abuse Intervention Specialist and visual artist. Eduardo remained working with the Stop AIDS Project until 1999. The project has focused on providing sensitivity and awareness, specifically to the Borderland region, rather than from an outside entity. “Lesbians, transgenders, and gays working together are instrumental to initiate a response from within. We were the biggest agency within El Paso, had housing, food pantry, testing, hospice, and nursed people back to health,” Eduardo stated in his nomination for the Borderland Heroes Project.
Eduardo’s community involvement led to positions as a board member for local agencies and he has now worked up to positions at the statewide level. Eduardo is currently employed with the University of Texas at Austin. As someone who saw firsthand the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Eduardo and other community members acted quickly to organize and address the severity of the viruses through spreading awareness, educating, and providing testing services. The work done by Eduardo made a positive impact on the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community and has left a lasting impression here in the Borderland.