Fierce

Here’s Why An Undocumented Trans Latina Helped Create The LGBTQ Pride March Of Our Lifetime

June 11 will be the day that the LGBTQ community makes their voices heard during the Equality March for Unity and Pride scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. The march has been organized by a team of national co-chairs who believe strongly in the idea of advancing the progress for all people in the LGBTQ community, including trans women of color who are disproportionately impacted by violent hate crimes and murder across the country. One of the co-chairs of the national Equality March for Unity and Pride, Catalina Velasquez, a trans undocumented Latina from Colombia, spoke to mitú about the importance of the upcoming march and why she decided to take part as a national co-chair.

Catalina Velasquez (third from the left) is one of the national co-chairs of the upcoming Equality March for Unity and Pride that is bringing attention to the issues impacting the trans and queer community.

Catalina Velasquez / Facebook

“Our platform is very intersectional recognizing that a lot of the transgender and queer community have often times been left behind, both politically and socially, with what current national organizations have done,” Velasquez told mitú. “We have a platform that brings reproductive health rights and justice as a trans queer issue: talking about abortion as a trans queer issue, access to contraception as a trans queer issue, bodily autonomy and agency over one’s reproductive decisions as a trans queer issue.”

Velasquez wants to provide a platform for the LGBTQ community to speak out against anti-blackness, health care needs, and immigration, which is most personal to her.

Catalina Velasquez / Facebook

“As an undocumented trans-Latina, of course making immigration a trans queer issue since over 80 countries criminalize people based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Velasquez expressed to mitú. “Deportation of a transgender immigrant is deportation to a death sentence so we really want to show what it really means to look at the larger trans and queer community of color.”

Velasquez is an immigrant from Colombia who came here when she was only 14 years old.

Catalina Velasquez / Facebook

According to an interview she did with The 41 List, Velasquez talked about how she and her family fled Colombia because of the political environment. Velasquez told The 41 List that her family was very politically active when she was younger and when the political tides changed in that country, she and her family were the direct targets of several threats including attempted kidnappings. One night, her father told her that they were fleeing to the U.S. and not to tell anyone. Velasquez is a beneficiary of deferred action as signed by Janet Napolitano in 2012.

Velasquez told mitú that it is imperative that immigration becomes a part of the LGBTQ debate and fight because of the number of LGBTQ people fleeing deadly persecution in their countries for safety in the U.S.

Catalina Velasquez / Facebook

“We can’t forget that immigration is a symptom of dehumanizing militaristic US foreign policy that kills,” Velasquez told mitú. “I say that very intentionally because the United States’ presence abroad exacerbates and becomes a push factor often that leads to folks making the life changing decision or seeking a life with dignity, seeking a life period, over death. We have seen, that in terms of foreign policy, the United States has not always been one that has centered LGBTQIA+ rights and needs and oftentimes, especially under this current administration, has worked against it and so a conversation about immigration needs to be a conversation about foreign policy.”

“I think what motivated me personally to join this march is the fact that the ‘T’ [in LGBTQ] is no longer silent,” Velasquez told mitú.

Catalina Velasquez / Facebook

Velasquez believes that it is important for the march that is going to be a visible representation of the LGBTQ community show the “vibrant and diverse LGBTQIA+ communities plural.” Velasquez told mitú that she wants to see more trans people being included in these kinds of organizing missions and conversations to add more depth to the work being done by these national LGBTQ organizations.

The Equality March for Unity and Peace is scheduled for June 11 in Washington D.C. and Velasquez is determined to inject some color into the LGBTQ celebration.

The Equality March for Unity and Pride / Facebook

Velasquez says that she understands that as a trans or queer person of color, it is often the case that you function in an Anglo-white, cis-gender, gay male space. This mentality and environment leaves LGBTQ people of color out of the equation and impacts those people’s ability to fight for things that are specific to their experience.

As for what she wants attendees of the march to get from their experience, she wants them to embrace the diversity of the LGBTQ community.

Catalina Velasquez / Facebook

“Ultimately, [I want them to] find strength and unity from diversity without taking away the particularities and distinctions that each of us have as we walk this earth and all come together to fight for the right to breathe and walk unapologetically in our truths,” Velasquez told mitú.


READ: Here’s How Three Women, Including A Mexican-American, Came Together To Organize One Of The Biggest Marches Of Our Time

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Entertainment

The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Photo via Getty

On Thursday, the cast of “Glee” paid tribute to Naya Rivera at the GLAAD Media Awards. Rivera was a once-in-a-lifetime talent the touched so many lives personally and through the screen while she was alive. But perhaps none of Naya’s roles were as impactful as Santana Lopez was.

This year, GLAAD decided to take time to honor the impact Naya Rivera had on LGBTQ representation onscreen.

During a time when LGBTQ represenation onscreen was rare, Santana Lopez was groundbreaking for being both queer and Latina. Santana went from a shut-off closeted cheerleader to an out-and-proud lesbian woman. This was a story arc many queer kids had never seen before.

Demi Lovato introduced the cast of “Glee” with a touching speech. She described how honored she was (and still is) to have played Santana’s girlfriend, Dani, on the show.

“I don’t have to tell you that this year was a tough, tough year,” Lovato said. “A particular moment of heartbreak stands out for me: losing my friend Naya Rivera. I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on ‘Glee.’”

“The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls — like I was at the time,” she went on. “And her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world.”

Then, dozens of former “Glee” cast members gathered via Zoom to pay tribute to Naya Rivera.

The tribute featured former “Glee” actors like Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr., Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, and Kevin McHale. There were also many others.

“Naya would be honored to receive this recognition,” read the statement. “When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said ‘I feel great about it!'”

“This year marks the tenth anniversary that Naya’s character, Santana Lopez, came out on ‘Glee’,” said Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beast on the Fox series.

“Santana basically got disowned by her family. And as alot of us know, that’s a feeling too many LGBTQ kids know too well,” continued Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel.

The loving tribute then ended with a written statement from Naya Rivera’s mother Yolanda Previtire, who couldn’t make it to the call.

“Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community. Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice.

“She continued: “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

“Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice,” the message read, in part. “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

After the Equality Act was recently passed in the House, Selena Gomez is now telling the Senate to pass the bill that would give added federal protections to the LGBTQ+ community. The Mexican-American pop star also talked about her history with the gay community and how they helped support her music career.

The Equality Act would extend protections from the Civil Rights Act to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity when it came to employment, housing, education, and other public and federal accommodations. In 2019, the Senate under President Donald Trump refused to vote on the bill.

The Equality Act recently passed through the House and now Gomez wants the Senate to pass it as well.

In February, the Equality Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. The bill passed through the House for a second time on Feb. 25. In a recent interview with the Recording Academy, the institution that hosts the Grammy Awards, Gomez is telling the Senate to vote on the bill this time and pass it through.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but we have so much further to go,” Gomez said about the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. “The Senate must pass the Equality Act. It’s absurd that this is even being debated in 2021.”

Gomez says the gay community helped support her 2009 breakthrough hit “Naturally.”

While Gomez was promoting her Latin music EP Revelación, she also revisited a few of her past hits. In 2009, she launched her music career with her band The Scene. Later that year, Gomez got her first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her breakthrough smash “Naturally.” While talking about her relationship with the gay community, she says they were the first ones to show that song love.

“Earlier you mentioned my song ‘Naturally’ and I remember when it was released, it truly started getting played in the gay bars before anywhere else,” she said. “I would hear from older friends that they heard when they went out. I was so jealous that I was too young to be out and dancing to it with everyone. The LGBTQ+ community has been there for me and I don’t take them for granted.”

The Equality Act is waiting to be debated by the Senate. This is Gomez’s first time speaking in support of the bill. Last year, she launched the Black Equality Fund to support groups like the Movement for Black Lives.  In March, she also asked for the Senate to pass the People Act.

Click here for Latido Music, 24/7 Latin music videos & more

Read: Selena Gomez and Myke Towers’ “Dámelo To’” is Everything: Listen to the ‘Revelación’ Standout

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com