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22 LGBTQ+ Latinos Who Are Changing The World

It’s no secret that our culture is hella infused with homophobia and machismo, and that simply existing as Latinx and openly gay can be a political statement all on its own. Many of us just want to exist peacefully, and that wouldn’t be possible without the Latinx activists who fight to make it easier for the rest of us.

Here are 22 Latinx LGBTQ people who are unapologetically out, proud and fighting for our rights:

1. Sara Ramirez

CREDIT: @therealsararamirez / Instagram

Remember when Sara Ramirez played a bisexual character on “Grey’s Anatomy”? In addition to giving representation to the bisexual community through television, Ramirez publicly came out as queer and bisexual on October 2016 and has been advocating for bisexual visibility ever since.

2. Manuel “Manny MUA” Gutierrez

CREDIT: @mannymua733 / Instagram

If you don’t follow this boo, get on it. He’s a fierce af beauty blogger with millions of followers. He was the first-ever male ambassador for Maybelline makeup line, and rightfully so. Look at that artistry! I could never.

3. Lauren Jauregui

CREDIT: @laurenjauregui / Instagram

Jauregui is part of the band Fifth Harmony and used her star power in the most epic possible way. When she publicly came out as bisexual, it was in an open letter to then-president elect Donald Trump. The letter called out Trump supporters for using their power to vote to take away the rights of millions of Americans that finally found inclusion and acceptance in society thanks to progress. She has since used her social media platform and reach to stand up for LGBTQ fans who have been bullied.

4. Patricia Yurena Rodríguez

CREDIT: @patriciayurena / Instagram

Patricia Yurena Rodríguez won Miss Spain in both 2008 and 2013 and was the first openly gay Miss Universe Spain. Op ed: A big struggle for all women, not just lesbians, is the sense that to be productive and successful in our society, we have to be available for male consumption. Not Patricia, my boo. ?

5. Shane Ortega

CREDIT: @shaneortega_ / Instagram

Shane Ortega served three tours in the U.S. military until his physical outed him as trans and he was reassigned a desk job in Hawaii. He then came out publicly in the Washington Post as the first openly trans service member and advocates hard for the 15k+ trans service members who are, you know, fighting for the right to fight for our country.

6. Salice Rose

CREDIT: @salicerose / Instagram

Salice is mothafuggin funny. She’s a major influencer and a major representation of the religious LGBTQ community. It shouldn’t be such a statement to prove you can be out of the closet and a Christian, y’know because God loves everyone.

I’m voting to send Salice Rose as the gay missionary to all our old churches who could really learn that lesson of Christian love. Whose with me?

7. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

CREDIT: @roslehtinen / Instagram

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Latina elected to the Florida State House of Representatives back in 1982 and then again to the House of Representatives in 1989. Since then, she’s also been the first Republican in Congress to support marriage equality, and one of the only GOP members to be vocal in her opposition to Donald Trump. She is not a lesbian but is a strong ally for the LGBTQ community in her home state of Florida. Her transgender son, Rodrigo, helped her get involved in LGBTQ rights.

8. Ricky Martin

CREDIT: @ricky_martin / Instagram

Ricky Martin was a household name for over a decade while he was still in the closet. It wasn’t until he had his twins, whom he credits for teaching him the importance of honesty and the catalyst in him coming out and living his truth.

9. Maricón Collective

CREDIT: @mariconcollective1 / Instagram

The four queer artists, DJs and party planners that make up the Maricón Collective in Los Angeles make a statement with their mere existence. They hope to reclaim the word that they grew up dreading to hear (maricón is the Spanish word for “faggot”). They still face hate and one of their queer, Cholo-style murals in San Francisco’s Mission District was defaced three times.

10. Bamby Salcedo

CREDIT: @labamby1 / Instagram

Bamby Salcedo is a well-known pioneer Latina activist in the community. She’s especially focused on trans youth and has launched Angels of change, the TransLatina Coalition and the #TransLivesMatter National Day of Action. She’s also spent the last eight years as the Health Education and HIV Prevention Services Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Thank you for your service and stellar sign making, Bamby.

11. Julio Salgado

CREDIT: @juliosalgado831 / Twitter

Salgado is a political artist who has been drawing political cartoons for queer, undocumented immigrants like himself since the mid-2000s. Salgado’s family was visiting Los Angeles from Mexico when his sister developed a deadly kidney infection and had to stay in the U.S. for life-saving treatment. If you’ve heard of “I am Undocu-Queer!”–that was all Salagado’s doing. Look up his art; it’s worth it.

12. Natalie Morales

CREDIT: @nataliemoralesloves / Instagram

Last summer, “Parks and Rec” star, Natalie Morales penned an essay for Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls” site coming out as queer. She writes, “I think it’s important that I tell you that this familiar face you see on your TV is the Q part of LGBTQ, so that if you didn’t know someone who was queer before, you do now.”

And for “any scared kids out there”: “You’re not weird. You’re not bad. You’re not unholy. … You are an essential part of the world just as you were created, and I want to see you. The real you.”

13. Laith Ashley De La Cruz

CREDIT: @laith_ashley / Instagram

Laith is a trans model that is truly giving back to the public. With that face, that smile, and his commitment to keep his name and transition story at the forefront to break down the stigma of being trans in the LGBTQ community. Because, there are somehow gay folks that have a problem with trans folks. I know. ?

14. Stephanie Beatriz

CREDIT: @iamstephbeatz / Instagram

Woop, there she is. Another bisexual Latina who is playing a character in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, who also recently came out as bisexual. She’s using that opportunity to help influence the writers to tell the true story of her own life, and that of so many other bi women of color.

15. Christian Chavez

CREDIT: @christianchavezreal / Instagram

Christian Chavez was a member of Mexican pop group RBD and when he came out in 2007, it was truly revolutionary. Chavez was still living in Mexico and was photographed marrying his partner in Canada. After Mexican newspapers published their marriage, it sparked another debate leaving the country divided.

16. Carmen Carrera

CREDIT: @carmen_carrera / Instagram

We know her from “RuPaul’s Drag Race “and going up against RuPaul himself for using derogatory slurs like “tranny” and “shemale,” which she believes are transphobic. She’s since gone on to become a major name and face in the modeling industry and that’s pretty awesome.

17. AB Soto

CREDIT: @absoto1 / Instagram

AB Soto is as unapologetic as it gets, showing who he is through music (check out his album Visibility to see what we mean). He refuses to back down from showing the Latino community what it means to be gay and the LGBTQ community what it means to be Latino.

18. Carlos Padilla

CREDIT: “Carlos Padilla.” Digital Image. The Advocate. 10 April 2018.

In 2015, Carlos Padilla received the Leadership on Immigration Reform award from the National Conference on LGBTQ Equality. He’s spearheaded the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project with United We Dream and is, himself, a queer Dreamer. He writes about the “double closet” burden for queer undocumented kids.

19. Yosimar Reyes

CREDIT: @yosoyyosi / Twitter

Originally from Guerrero, Mexico, two-spirt slam poet Yosimar Reyes currently lives in San Jose and has been featured in documentaries, anthologies.

Twitter caption: ”

Q: Who was your first crush?

A: OK, this might sound weird, but I have always known I was into dudes. Disney’s Pocahontas came out in ’95, and I fell in love with Kocoum (you thought I was going to say John Smith, but I’m decolonial). – @YoSoyYosi ???”

20. Patricia Velasquez

CREDIT: @patricia_carola_velasquez / Instagram

Patricia Velasquez is a Venezuelan actress and supermodel. She’s the first indigenous supermodel and first openly lesbian supermodel. You’ve seen her in “The L Word” and “Arrested Development.” She founded the Wayúu Tayá Foundation, which aims to assist her indigenous roots. Her memoir “Straight Walk” describes her life in poverty in Venezuela and how her first girlfriend, Sandra Bernhard, helped her realize she’s a lesbian.

21. Jennicet Gutierrez

CREDIT: @jenctegtz1 / Instagram

Jennicet Gutierrez is an undocumented Latina transgender activist for the Not1More campaign. She caused some controversy in June 2015 when she interrupted President Obama’s speech commemorating LGBT Pride Month. Her defense was recently republished in “Latinas: An Anthology of Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA.” 

She wrote, “Last night I spoke out to demand respect and acknowledgement of our gender expression and the release of the estimated seventy-five transgender immigrants in detention right now.” Trans immigrants are 100x more likely to be victims of sexual abuse while in ICE custody.

22. Emily Rios

CREDIT: @emily1loverios1 / Instagram

Emily Rios is an out and proud lesbian Latina actress. She’s best known as Andrea Cantillo on “Breaking Bad” but also played a lesbian reporter on “The Bridge.” Not only do high-profile out and proud queer folk cause a ripple of positivity for the rest of us, but Emily worked with the writers to rewrite scenes that just didn’t accurately represent lesbians. ?

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This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Things That Matter

This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

With homosexuality still illegal in more than 60 countries around the world and attitudes towards transgendered people often even less welcoming, it’s obvious why so many people risk their lives to migrate to the United States.

However, that journey to a better life is often one of many dangerous hurdles and often times, once swept up in immigration proceedings, things don’t get much better.

LGBTQ detainees across the country have shared harrowing experiences of being mocked or tortured for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Many others have been sexually assaulted while in ICE custody or while waiting for their asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. And transgendered and HIV-positive detainees have both been denied medically necessary healthcare that has posed a risk to their lives.

LGBTQ migrants have the same issues and problems to worry about that all other migrants face, however, the LGBTQ experience comes with several extra hurdles.

LGBTQ migrants coming to the U.S. face unique challenges that often put them at increased risk of violence.

Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Like so many others, LGBTQ migrants are often fleeing violence and persecution in their native countries. But despite often fleeing sexual violence and trans- and homophobia, so many migrants are sexually assaulted while in U.S. custody.

While just 0.14 percent of ICE detainees self-identified as LGBTQ in 2017, they reportedly accounted for 12 percent of sexual abuse and assault victims.

Based on a new report from the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, LGBTQ migrants in federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees.

Studies show LGBTQ migrants are among the most vulnerable, more likely to be assaulted and killed, especially trans migrants. Of Central American LGBTQ migrants interviewed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2017, 88 percent were victims of sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin; two-thirds suffered similar attacks in Mexico.

Human rights group allege that ICE fails to provide proper medical care to LGBTQ migrants – particularly trans and HIV-positive detainees.

Migrant advocacy groups and several lawmakers have demanded that ICE release all LGBTQ detainees and anyone with HIV in the agency’s custody, because the government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care to them.

“We know that lack of medical and mental-health care, including lack of HIV care, is the norm,” Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “By the Department of Homeland Security’s own count, 300 individuals identifying as transgender have been in custody and at the mercy of ICE since October of 2018.

For detainees with HIV, antiretroviral treatment is necessary to help kill and suppress the virus which ensures a healthy life but also reduces the risk of transmission to basically zero. Yet ICE is failing to provide this life-saving care.

Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman who was detained at Otero and had tested positive for HIV, fell seriously ill and died at a hospital in nearby El Paso. Leon, 25, was the second trans woman to die in ICE custody in New Mexico in the past year. Roxsana Hernandez, 33, died in November 2018 after falling ill at the Cibola County Correctional Facility.

Meanwhile, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is presenting additional challenges to the LGBTQ community.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

While the Trump administration has severely limited asylum qualifications for Central Americans fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse, migrants can still request asylum based on persecution because of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation. But their path is far from easy.

The administration continues to return LGBTQ migrants to Mexican border cities where they face assaults, kidnappings and death while they await U.S. court hearings.

“Here, the same as at home, the police discriminate against us,” Alejandro Perez told NBC News in early October. “We’re very vulnerable. I don’t feel safe here in Mexico.”

Border Patrol officials initially said “vulnerable” asylum seekers would be exempted from the Remain in Mexico program, including those who are LGBTQ, pregnant or disabled. But that hasn’t been the case.

Thankfully, the LGBTQ Center Orange County is working hard to protect and help the most vulnerable.

Southern California is home to the nation’s largest undocumented community, which means organizations like the LGBTQ Center Orange County have their work cut out for them. However, the center has proudly stood up to help in powerful and life-changing ways.

The LGBTQ Center OC is one of the leading migrant outreach centers in the region, attending numerous events throughout the year and providing outreach at the Mexican consulate in Santa Ana – each year reaching more than 5,000 people. The center also played a pivotal role in ending the partnership of Santa Ana Police and the Orange County Sheriff with ICE, bringing an end to ICE detention within the county.

As those migrants were detained at facilities outside the county – sometimes more than two hours away – the center mobilized volunteers to help stay in touch with detainees. This team helps provide much needed companionship through letters and notes, as well as providing legal representation and even cash payments that help detainees get everything from a filling meal to in-person visits.

And the work the center does is so important because it shouldn’t just be on detainees to speak out. All of us as part of the LGBTQ and migrant communities should support those in detention and speak out about the injustices they’re suffering in detention.

The Center is hosting a digital posada and you’re invited!

We all know the tradition of a posada. So many of us grew up with a holiday season full of them and although this year will look very different (thanks to Covid-19), the LGBTQ Center OC wants to keep the tradition and celebration alive.

Posadas commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of a safe refuge, a sentiment that so many migrants and refugees in our communities can relate to. It’s with this spirit that the center is hosting it’s annual posada – but virtually.

The important event is free for all to attend but is a critical fundraising event that enables the center to do all that it does for the LGBTQ migrant community across Southern California. You can learn more and RSVP here but just know that it’s an event you do not want to miss.

Not only will you be able to virtually hang out with members of the community and leaders from the LGBTQ Center OC but there will also be a screening of the short documentary, Before & After Detention, a spirited round of lotería, raffle, and a live performance by the LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoíris de Los Angeles.

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Selena Gomez Will Play Trailblazing Gay Mountaineer Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Will Play Trailblazing Gay Mountaineer Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Raymond Hall / Getty

Selena Gomez is ready to make mountains into movies

The Texas-born singer, actress, and producer has set her sights on a big-screen biopic about Peruvian mountaineer Silvia Vásquez-Lavado who became the first Peruvian woman to summit Mount Everest. Vásquez-Lavado is also the first openly gay woman to scale the Seven Summits in their entirety.

In the Shadow of the Mountain is an upcoming biopic based on Vásquez-Lavado’s memoir of the same name.

The Seven Summits challenge encourages climbers to climb the highest mountain on each continent.

Vásquez-Lavado’s story of pursuit and inspiration will be produced by Scott Budnick’s impact-focused co-finance company One Community. The company is a film, television, and digital content co-financing company that “harnesses the power of storytelling to inspire and encourage positive change in the world.” The film aligns with One Community’s efforts given the fact that Vásquez-Lavado’s story follows her childhood experience of assault and neglect. According to Vásquez-Lavado mountaineering proved to be a source of healing.

Vásquez-Lavado’s memoir In the Shadow of the Mountain is scheduled to be published in winter 2022.

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I am so humbled and grateful to share this thrilling news, which has been in the works for the last 10months, that an all-star team has optioned my upcoming memoir In The Shadow of the Mountain (to be published 02-2022 by @madelinecjones Holt/Macmillan) for a movie adaptation. I am so honored and touched for the bold, talented, and brilliant @selenagomez in taking the starring role and as producer; To her incredible team @zackmorgenroth and @aleenkeshishian; Grateful to have the groundbreaking visionary #DonnaGigliotti and her Tempesta films involved; For the talented @elginnjames on the helm for screenplay and direction; And the support of @onecommunity films led by the trailblazer @scottbudnick1 and @lauren_denormandie None of this would have happened without the faith of my amazing family at @ideaarchitects, my incredible agent and dearest friend @laralovehardin, #dougabrams and my sweet family at WME led by #sylvierabineau and #carolinabeltran And to all of my family and friends, thank you for all your words of encouragement and support along this road. I can’t wait to share more! Link on my bio!

A post shared by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (@silviavasla) on

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Vásquez-Lavado’s work in survivor circles has been heralded, particularly her efforts to organize treks to Mt. Everest’s base camp for other women who have endured abuse.”

Oscar-winner Donna Gigliotti who is set to produce the film, called Vásquez-Lavado “a force of nature.” Scott and I are so excited to work with Elgin and Selena to tell this story of resilience, courage, adventure, and humanity.”

Gigliotti has worked on acclaimed films such as best picture Oscar-winner Shakespeare in Love, she also produced films such as The Reader, Silver Linings Playbook, and Hidden Figures.

“We are thrilled to get to work bringing Silvia’s incredible and inspiring story to life onscreen,” Budnick said of the film.

Gomez will produce the film through her July Moon Productions. Vásquez-Lavado will executive produce.

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