Nuestras Historías, Nuestro Arcoíris (Our Stories, Our Rainbow) Celebrating LGBTQ Latina/o History Month

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Nuestras Historías, Nuestro Arcoíris (Our Stories, Our Rainbow) Celebrating LGBTQ Latina/o History Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) Latina/o people have been major contributors to the United States in everything from the arts, politics, and social justice movements. From the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo to the famous Latino activist José Julio Sarria who was the first openly LGBTQ person to run for public office– LGBTQ Latina/o figures have made long-lasting contributions and have had a significant influence on U.S. culture. When GSAs celebrate the contributions of Latina/o LGBTQ people and advocate for the visibility of these important historical figures, we are showing the beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ movement and are making sure that no one’s history is forgotten. By celebrating the history of Latina/o LGBTQ people, GSAs can also show how the LGBTQ justice movement is connected to other social justice movements fighting to make a better society.

One way GSA clubs do this is by celebrating Latina/o History Month from September 15th to October 15th. Latina/o History Month was started to focus on and celebrate the unique history and contributions of Latina/o people in the United States. During the month, many schools and student clubs will organize class presentations, assemblies, educational posters and fun events as a way to bring alive the rich history of Latina/o people.

 

If your school doesn't have a Latina/o History Month celebration, organize with your GSA to start official events at your school. Work with administration, teachers, staff, student groups, and others to ensure the lives of LGBTQ Latina/o historical figures are included in your school’s activities. 

Here are some helpful ideas of activities you can do at your school during Latina/o History Month:

Teach Your School!

  • Create a PowerPoint presentation highlighting important Latina/o LGBTQ leaders, organizations & events to present to your classes.  You can do your presentations in ALL of your classes because LGBTQ Latino folks have made contributions in EVERY subject including music, literature, art, science, health and more. For example, you can do a presentation on the writings of Cherrie Moraga in your English class.
  • Train your social studies and English teachers on Latina/o LGBTQ authors and historical figures and suggest ways they could incorporate them and their writing into their lessons.
  • Work with your school librarian or administration to make sure there is a Latina/o History display board that includes LGBTQ people, as well as books by important authors like Gloria Anzaldua and Charles Rice Gonzalez.
  • Organize with other student clubs, such as MEChA or the Latino Awareness Club, to make sure the month’s activities include LGBTQ leaders.  To learn more about building successful coalitions, see our resource Coalition Building.
  • Invite speakers to your school who can talk about LGBTQ Latina/o history or the experiences of Latina/o LGBTQ people.
  • Organize discussions on the current events related to LGBTQ Latina/o folks that demonstrate how homophobia, transphobia, and racism affect their lives today.
  • Highlight local LGBTQ Latino people who have given back to your community.
  • Screen a film like Pedro, which documents the life of AIDS educator and activist Pedro Zamora, or Tres Gotas de Agua, a short documentary of three Latina mothers talking about their journey with their LGBTQ children.

Be Creative!

  • Organize a poster art campaign or contest featuring LGBTQ Latina/o historical figures, such as activist Laura M. Esquivel.
  • Create a display of pictures and biographies. You can find a list of some of these leaders at our LGBTQ Latino History page on GSA Network’s website.
  • Use your school’s public announcements to share stories! Play sound clips from singers Chavela Vargas and Christian Chavez. Read poetry from Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua, or read selections of important speeches by Jose Julio Sarria, the first openly LGBTQ person in the United States to run for a public office in 1961.

Use Social Media!

  • Highlight important figures via your GSA’s social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. Make videos, post photos, tweet, and even make a Facebook or Wiki page for your favorite icon.
  • Promote all of your Latina/o History Month events on social networking sites and be sure to promote events organized by other clubs.

Make Everyday Latina/o LGBTQ History Month!

Gloria AnzaldúaRemember that having one month of commemoration of the lives of LGBTQ Latina/o people is just the beginning! You can work with your school’s history, literature, Spanish and social studies teachers to make sure that they are including the stories, activism and lives of Latina/o LGBTQ people in your classes throughout the school year. Contact GSA Network for ideas and help on how to do this in your school!

Have ongoing conversations with your GSA about why it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ people of color to society and to social justice movements. Talking in your GSA about whose history is remembered and whose isn’t is a great way to start building an anti-racist GSA. To get started, see our resource on Creating Inclusive GSAs.

Most of all, have fun learning, teaching and celebrating some of our most important LGBTQ leaders and community members in history!

 

LGBTQ Latina/o Historical Figures

Name

Date-of-Birth
Date-of-Death

Profession
About
Gloria Anzaldúa Sep. 26, 1942
May. 15, 2004
 
Author, Poet, Activist

Gloria Anzaldúa was a Chicana lesbian writer and activist. Anzaldúa wrote Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza in 1987, a book that combined her personal experiences growing up along the Mexico/U.S. border with her vision for a new world free of injustice and oppression for all people.

Camilo Arenivar  Jun. 2, 1967 Hip-Hop Producer & Writer

Camilo Arenivar is the founder of the LGBTQ website OutHipHop.com that focuses on LGBTQ hip hop artists. Arenivar was the organizer and manager of the HomoRevolution Tour in 2007 that was the first hip hop tour to feature LGBTQ artists and performers.

Erick Arguello  1959  Activist

Erick Arguello is a Nicaraguan activist who works with the health organization Asociacion Gay Unida Impactando Latinos/Latinas A Superarse (AGUILAS - Association of United Gays Impacting Latinos/Latinas toward Self-Empowerment) fighting to improve the lives of Latina/o LGBTQ people, especially those living with HIV/AIDS.

Arthur Aviles  1963  Dancer

 Arthur Aviles is an award winning Puerto Rican dancer and choreographer that has created a number of performances that look at the lives of Latina/o LGBTQ people living in the United States as they face racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and transphobia. In 1998, Aviles opened BAAD! – The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance for presenting challenging works of established and emerging choreographers, dancers, playwrights, musicians, visual artists, poets, writers and directors.

Jarrett T. Barrios  Oct. 16, 1969 Politician, Activist, Businessperson

Jarret T. Barrios is a Cuban American activist who became the first Latino and first openly LGBTQ member of the Massachusetts Senate. Barrios has also worked as the president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) where he fought homophobia and transphobia in the media.

Adolfo Caminha May. 29, 1867
Jan. 1, 1897
 Novelist

Adolfo Ferreira Caminha was a Brazilian novelist, famous for his novel Bom-Crioulo, which was the first novels in Brazil to deal with LGBT issues and to have a Black person as it’s hero.

Christian Chavez Aug. 7, 1983  Actor, Singer

Christian Chávez is a Mexican singer and actor best known for his role in the telenovela Rebelde and it’s pop group RBD. In 2007, he was outed as being gay and since then has become an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights in Mexico and Latin America.

Wilson Cruz Dec. 17, 1973 Actor

 Wilson Cruz is an Afro-Puerto Rican actor best known for playing Rickie Vasquez on MTV’s My So-Called Life in the mid 1990’s. In both his acting and his community work, Cruz has served as a model and mentor to LGBTQ youth, especially LGBTQ youth of color.

Terri De la Peña Feb. 20, 1947  Author

 Terri de la Peña is a novelist, short-story writer, and fifth-generation Californian that writes about the issues Chicana lesbians face, such as a search for identity, cultural assimilation, class consciousness, historical awareness, internal and external racism, and homophobia.

 Deadlee  unknown Rapper & Songwriter

Deadlee is the stage name of Joseph Lee, a Mexican American and African American rapper and songwriter. Deadlee’s music focuses heavily on the oppression faced by queer people, people of color, working class people, and women in the United States. Deadlee is considered the most visible LGBTQ hip hop artist today.

Juanita Diaz-Cotto  unknown Professor, Activist

Dr. Juanita Diaz-Cotto is Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies Program (LACAS) and Professor of Sociology, Women's Studies, and LACAS at Binghamton University. Diaz-Cotto has written about the lives of Latina lesbians in the anthology Companeras: Latina Lesbians/Lesbianas latinoamericanas.

Louis Escobar Jan. 27, 1950 Politician

Louis Escobar was the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the City Council in Toledo, Ohio. In his first year on the Council, the members voted unanimously to include sexual orientation in the city’s non-discrimination policy.

Laura M. Esquivel  unknown Activist  & Educator

Laura M. Esquivel is an activist that has worked in the LGBTQ, labor and Latina/o movements for the rights of oppressed people. Esquivel has helped start a number of Latina/o LGBTQ organizations, such as Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU) and the Latino Lesbian and Gay Organization (LLEGÓ).

 Jade Esteban Estrada Sep. 17, 1975  Singer, Comedian, Activist, Choreographer, Political Commentator

Jade Esteban Estrada is a successful Latin pop singer, comedian, choreographer, actor, political commentator, and human rights activist.

Letitia Gomez unknown Activist

Letitia Gomez is a Latina activist who helped to start the national Latina/o Lesbian & Gay Organization (LLEGO) and ENLACE, the Latina/o LGBTQ organization in Washington, D.C. With ENLACE, Gomez helped to launch the nation’s first Spanish language AIDS information hotline.

Charles Rice Gonzalez 1947 Author

Charles Rice-González, born in Puerto Rico and reared in the Bronx, is a writer, community and LGBT activist and Executive Director of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance.

Daniel Hernandez 1990 Hero, Activist Daniel Hernandez was an intern for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords at the time of the January 2011 Tucson Shooting. Daniel performed first aid on Representative Giffords, saving her life. Daniel is openly gay.

William Hernandez

Nov. 20, 1979 Actor

William Hernandez is a Puerto Rican American actor who was a child actor on the PBS show Ghostwriter. Hernandez was also a member of The Real World: Philadelphia.

 Frida Kahlo Jul. 6, 1907  
Jul. 13, 1954
Painter

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter, best known for her surreal self-portraits. Kahlo's work is remembered for its "pain and passion", and its intense, vibrant colors. Kahlo’s art is respected for its feminist messages and revival of Indigenous traditions.

Ricardo Lara Nov. 5, 1974 Politician

Ricardo Lara is a California State Assmeblymember who represents Southeast Los Angeles County. Lara has long worked in labor unions, community organizations and public service. Lara is also the second openly Latino LGBTQ person to serve in the California State Legislature.

Evelyn Mantilla Feb. 16, 1963 Politician

Evelyn Mantilla was a Puerto Rican American State Representative for Connecticut. Mantilla was one of the first openly Bisexual elected officials in the United States.

Ricky Martin Dec. 24, 1971 Singer

Ricky Martin is a Puerto Rican pop singer who helped to popularize Latina/o pop music and came out in 2010 as a gay man.

Cherríe Moraga 1952 Poet, Playwright, Essayist, Editor, Teacher, Activist

Cherríe Moraga was born in Los Angeles in 1952. She is of Chicana/Anglo descent which has influenced her experiences as a lesbian poet, playwright, essayist, editor, teacher, and activist.

John Pérez Sep. 28, 1969 Politician & Union Organizer

John A. Pérez was a union organizer and is now a politician from Los Angeles. Pérez became the first openly LGBTQ speaker of the California State Assembly and the first Latino LGBTQ member of the California State Legislature in 2010.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez unknown Activist

Nicole Murray-Ramirez is currently the international president of the International Court System, one of the oldest and largest predominantly LGBT organizations in the world. Murray-Ramirez has long been an activist in San Diego, where he has been an organizer of Pride Parades and other local LGBTQ civil rights efforts.

John Rechy Mar. 10, 1934 Author

John Rechy is an American author, the child of Scottish father and a Mexican-American mother. In his novels, he has written extensively about LGBT culture in Los Angeles and wider America, and is among the pioneers of modern LGBTQ literature.

Yosimar Reyes unknown Poet, Performer, Activist

Yosimar Reyes is a queer Mexican poet, performer and activist who uses his art to fight for justice for immigrants, queer people, people of color, youth and others. Reyes is well known for his powerful poem “For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly,” which shares the experiences of LGBTQ youth of color in the United States and the world.

Sylvia Rivera Jul. 2, 1951
Feb. 19, 2002
Activist

Sylvia Rivera was a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan transgender activist that was a leader of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Rivera, along with Marsha P. Johnson, founded the transgender activist organization Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) to fight for the rights of Transgender people.

Amelio Robles Nov. 3, 1889
Dec. 9, 1984
Soldier

Amelio Robles was a trans masculine officer in the Mexican Revolution. He joined the Emiliano Zapata’s army in 1912 and served as an officer. In 1970 he was awarded the medal as a veteran of the Mexican Revolution and Honorary Legionnaire of the Mexican Army. In 1973 he received the Merit award revolutionary. He has had several songs written about him and there is a museum with pictures and information about him in Guerrero, Casa Museo Amelia La Güera Robles.

Jai Rodriguez Jun. 22, 1979 Actor, Musician

Jai Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican American actor and musician that appeared on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Rodriguez has also appeared on a number of Broadway shows.

Diego Sanchez unknown Congressional Staffer & Activist

Diego Sanchez is a Panamanian American activist who was the first openly transgender person to work for a member of Congress. Sanchez has worked with Representative Barney Frank (the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress) on issues from LGBTQ rights to improving healthcare to workers’ rights.

  José Julio Sarria Dec. 12, 1922 Politician, Activist, & Philanthropist

José Julio Sarria is a Colombian American activist and drag queen who was the first openly LGBTQ person to run for political office, when he ran to be a San Francisco Supervisor in 1961. Sarria also founded the Imperial Court System in 1965, as an organization to raise money for LGBTQ organizations throughout the United States.

Ana Maria Simo 1943 Playwright, Writer & Activist

Ana Maria Simo is a Cuban playwright, writer and activist. Simo has helped to start a number of lesbian organizations such as the Lesbian Avengers, Dyke TV, and Medusa’s Revenge.

Carla Trujillo unknown Author 

Carla Trujillo is a Chicana writer who edited the book Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About. Trujillo also works with Lambda Literary Foundation supporting LGBTQ writers.

Lupe Valdez Oct. 11, 1947 Sherrif

Lupe Valdez is a Mexican American law enforcement official and the Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas. Valdez is Texas's only elected female sheriff, as well as being the only openly lesbian holder of that office.

Chavela Vargas Apr. 17, 1919 Singer, Songwriter, Actress

Chavela Vargas is a legendary Mexican singer that is famous for her powerful versions of traditional Mexican songs, often challenging stereotypical gender roles. Vargas came out in 2000 at the age of 81.

Carmen Vásquez unknown Activist, Writer

Carmen Vásquez is the Coordinator of the LGBT Health & Human Services Unit for the NYS AIDS Institute. Vásquez has worked with many LGBTQ rights organizations in New York and nationwide. Vásquez was also a founder of the Women's Building in San Francisco and of Causes in Common, a national coalition of LGBT Liberation and Reproductive Justice Activists.

Emanuel Xavier May. 3, 1971 Author, Activist

Emanuel Xavier is a Puerto Rican/Ecuadorian poet, spoken word artist, and author from New York City. Xavier has written about the challenges LGBTQ youth of color face growing up in the United States. Xavier has worked to educate youth through spoken word workshops so that they can express themselves. 

Pedro Zamora Feb. 29, 1972
Nov. 11, 1994
AIDS Educator & Activist

Pedro Zamora was a Cuban-American AIDS educator and activist who was the first person with AIDS to be on television in the United States when he was part of The Real World: San Francisco. Zamora shared his life on screen and educated viewers on the reality of living with AIDS.

 


More Resources!

  • Listen to the spanish language radionovelas 
    "Bienvenidos a Casa (Welcome Home)" is a story that helps Latino families begin the dialogue of accepting their LGBT family members. "Bienvenidos a Casa (Welcome Home)" was produced by Radio Bilingüe, in collaboration with the Family Acceptance Project and California Rural Legal Assistance, with funding from The Horizons Foundation and supported by The National Center for Lesbian Rights.
  • De Colores, a bilingual documentary about Latina/o families and their LGBTQ children
  • Tres Gotas de Agua, a Spanish language documentary about three Latina mothers and their LGBTQ children

 

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