“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences”.
LGBTQ+: WHAT’S BEHIND THIS ACRONYM?
To start with: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.
But this acronym is not just a bunch of words. It means a world of diversity!
Especially if you are also LatinX.
Imagine a group of LGBTQ+ individuals, half of them Latinx:
Liz and Lupe are both lesbians, Gordon and Gustavo are both gay,
Billy and Brayan are bisexual, Tommy and Tito are transgender, Quinn and Quique are queer.
According to the Human Rights Campaign that promotes the Equality Act, it is probable that all the members of the group mentioned above often face challenges like health disparities, societal stigma, discrimination, and the denial of their civil and human rights.
But because Lupe, Gustavo, Brayan, Tito and Quique are Latinx, they also suffer from an additional vast array of discrimination experiences in their everyday lives: racist and anti-immigration behavior directed at them, plus the heightened scrutiny of their cultural roots and difficulty finding personal, family, and social acceptance of their non-average sexual orientation and gender identity. This intersectionality reinforces inequality.
The many acts of violence and victimization against these communitites, added to the destabilizing issues brought about by immigration, lead to higher rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.
For example: According to The Trevor Project, compared to their LGBTQ+ peers, Latinx LGBTQ+ youth were 30% more likely to say they attempted suicide in the past year, and that was directly related to fear they or their family might be detained or deported.
In our home countries too, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people continue to face discrimination and violence in their day-to-day lives.
IT’S TIME TO SAY “¡BASTA!”
In the first four months of 2022 alone, state legislatures across the United States have introduced a record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
Some of these bills intend to prohibit transgender youth from being able to access gender-affirming medical care, keep them from participating in sports or deny them access to restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Some bills would have them lose housing rights and everyday healthcare, and others would allow people to assert religious beliefs as justification for refusing to provide services to LGBTQ. Sadly, some of these bills have become a reality, like Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, which forbids teachers giving any classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Equality Act is a bill that intends to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. But it does not have Senate approval yet, and until it does, the White House cannot implement an outright federal ban on that kind of discrimination in public spaces and federal programs.
Therefore, PresidentBiden recently signed an executive order to advance equality for LGBTQ+ individuals. But he also warned of the “rising hate and violence” targeting LGBTQ+ people, denouncing the recent threats against Pride Events.
Yes, being LGBTQ+ can be rough in a historical climate of homophobia and even more so if you are also a person of color.
We must reflect on our commitment to helping the LGBTQ+ community in any way we can, from marching to donating to voting, starting with simple grassroots actions.
UNA GOLONDRINA NO HACE VERANO
One swallow does not make a summer.
It’s a fact that from Hollywood to Congress, from activists to influencers, there are several individuals that celebrate their LGBTQ+ peers, and their advocacy work has heightened awareness of the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
For example, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, pop star Ricky Martin, and award-winning actress/singer Michaela Jae Rodriguez joined the Hispanic Federation to launch an advocacy initiative to serve Latinx LGBTQ+ communities: the Advance Change Together (ACT) initiative.
Or the work and initiatives of Congressman Ritchie Torres, an openly gay Afro-Latino from the Bronx who has been advancing issues through LGBTQ+ advocacy. Moreover, out of 752 LGBTQ+ elected officials currently serving in the United States, 76 of them identify as Latinx. You can view them all at OutforAmerica.org.
And they need you and all of us because there are still so many issues that we must help advance.
As we honor giants of activism like Jose Sarria or Sylvia Rivera, we continue to see state legislatures advancing bills that target transgender people, limit local protections, and allow the use of religion to discriminate. Those giants of activism would tell you that your voice has never been more needed than it is now.
Pride month should be more than just words and rainbows.
It should be an inspiration for all of us to learn and be moved to action throughout the year.
We must fight for this together!