Culture

Here Are 9 LGBTQ+ Poets Who Will Speak To Your Soul

It’s Pride month and we all celebrate in different ways. Some of us feel our best when we pick up a protest sign and march against the homophobes in office. Others of us take four tequila shots before dropping the drab clothes that burden us and take to the streets in a rainbow flag cape. Others still, pour the hearts out in prose and poetry. 
However you plan to express yourself, you can take part in queer Latinx expressions in the quiet moments before the parades. Here’s the best of the best out there today.

1. Rafael Campo

CREDIT: “Rafael Campo” Digital Image. Poets.org. 15 June 2018.

Cubano Rafael Campo isn’t just a poet. He’s also a doctor at Harvard Medical School, which leads him to describe himself as a “a mutt, a mongrel, a kind of happy monster.” His work aims to take ownership over the sanitized medical jargon that affects people in the deepest, most personal ways.

from The Changing Face of AIDS:  V. Elegy for the AIDS Virus

by Rafael Campo

CREDIT: Rafael Campo

Campo’s primary care practice serves mostly Latinos, LGBTQ+ people and people with HIV. This man, this myth, this legend, actually “prescribes” poetry and leads poetry workshops for patients.

2. Sonia Guiñansaca

CREDIT: @soniag / Instagram

Sonia Guiñansaca is an Ecuadorian, now New York City transplant, poet and activist. They have performed their work at The Met, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (which we all should be at right now), and more. That means migration, climate justice, queer/femme identity and the role of art in social movements has reached the mainstream.

America Runs on Immigrants

by Sonia Guiñansaca

CREDIT: “IMG_3595.JPG” Digital Image. Sonia Guinasaca. 15 June 2018.

Sonia was born in Ecuador and migrated to NYC to be reunited with their parents when they were 5 years old. Their experience as an undocumented immigrant seeps through their writing in rich, gut-wrenching and powerful punches.

3. Ruben Quesada

CREDIT: “RQ April 2018.jpg” Digital Image. Ruben Quesada. 15 June 2018.

Quesada grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is now the co-founder of Stories & Queer among many other publications. Reading love poems written from the perspective of your gender.

Last Photograph of My Parents

by Ruben Quesada

CREDIT: Ruben Quesada

If we could all paint a picture como esa, how much more complete could we feel? By we, I mean me.

4. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: @sadqueer4life / Twitter

Espinoza is a trans woman living in California. Follow her on Twitter @sadqueer4life for some of the sassiest, homo tweets on the interwebz.

This Is What Makes Us Worlds

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Our love eats the deadly sounds men make when they see how much magic we have away from them.

Just had to say it again for the people in the back.

It Is Important To Be Something

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

You don’t know Espinoza’s work if you don’t know this one. Being a trans person of color puts you at more risk than almost anyone in America and we need to

5. Denice Frohman

CREDIT: @denicefrohman / Instagram
Denice is a born and raised, queer af, New Yorican who has been bringing her work to the world since she can remember. She’s passionate about working with young writers and was even Program Director at The Philly Youth Poetry Movement. 

“Dear Straight People”

by Denice Frohman

CREDIT: Button Poetry / YouTube

Sorry, fam, you really need to hear her work in slam mode. Listen to “Accents,” and try to watch it with your mom if you can.

6. Natalie Diaz

CREDIT: “Natalie Diaz” Digital Image. Poets.org. 15 June 2018.

Born in Fort Mojave Indian Village in California, Natalie Diaz is Mojave, queer, and talented af. Like a true queer badass, Diaz went to college on a full athletic scholarship for basketball and traveled through Europe and Asia before returning for her MFA.

Grief Work

by Natalie Diaz

CREDIT: Natalie Diaz

The last breaks my heart like a clay jar of wine. It’s so easy to relate to this feeling of finally coming to terms with the full picture of your sexuality. It’s silk and silt, and it’s so, so good.

7. Nancy Lorenza Green

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. La Bloga. 16 June 2018.

Nancy Lorenza Green is an Afro-Chicana writer, musician and speaker. Her music is dedicated to her ancestors and the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

Queer

by Nancy Lorenza Green

CREDIT: Nancy Lorenza Green

Don’t you love when religious people, friends, your parents tell you they love you, but don’t “get in my face about it.” It being the queer. Hey, hi, hola todo el mundo, I am who I am, and I love who I am.

8. Liliana Valenzuela

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Liliana Valenzuela. 16 June 2018.

Liliana was born and raised in Mexico City and has spent much of her life conducting award winning translations of the works of Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and others.

Fairy Dust

by Liliana Valenzuela

CREDIT: Liliana Valenzuela

If you don’t own Latinas: An Anthology of Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA, released on the one year anniversary of the Women’s March in 2018. Her work was featured in the LGBTQ Struggles for Human Rights chapter.

9. Christopher Soto “Loma”

CREDIT: Loma. Digital Image. Remezcla. 16 June 2018.

Queer punk and prison abolitionist, Loma’s been busy cofounding the Undocupoets Campaign. They recently graduated with an MFA from NYU and has a forthcoming book called Sad Girl Poems.

Rework

by Christopher Soto

CREDIT: Christopher Soto

Oof. I’m sobbing. I’m not worthy of putting words on this page. Reread that again and let it marinate.

Want More? Get the first ever anthology of Queer Poets of Color.

CREDIT: @denicefrohman / Instagram

You can find it on Amazon, and I’d tell you all about it, but I’m still waiting on that 2-Day free shipping. 😉 Happy Pride!

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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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