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

@ConsultCatalina / Twitter / The Equality March for Unity and Pride / Facebook

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.

CREDIT: 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.

CREDIT: 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.

CREDIT: 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.

CREDIT: 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.

CREDIT: 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.

CREDIT: 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.

CREDIT: 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

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You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

Entertainment

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

johnleguizamo / Instagram

Among the Latino celebrities that have made their political ideals crystal clear, we can certainly count actor John Leguizamo, who for more than two decades has been a force to be reckoned with both in Hollywood and independent cinema. John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964. He is also a US citizen. Leguizamo has acted in small indie films such as Summer of Sam, but also in high profile franchises including John Wick and Ice Age. Leguizamo is as mainstream as it gets while retaining a humble personality. He has said: “I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow.” He is proud of his language and his people. 

Leguizamo has worked with the likes of legendary filmmakers Spike Lee and George Romero while being unapologetic about his clear disdain for those in politics that incite division and perpetuate injustice. Here are some key moments of Leguizamo’s political activism and the never-ending fight for Latino rights. 

When he wrote an incendiary op-ed for The New York Times in 2016, right before the election.

Credit: Screenshot. The New York Times.

It was fantastic, and it was titled “Too Bad You’re Latin.” It was a real call to action. “We need a Latino Spring in this country,” he wrote. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity”. Of course, he aimed his guns at POTUS: “Donald J. Trump has done one good thing. He has galvanized a conflicted and diverse community. For years, activists and politicians have struggled to get Latinos to vote and show their power.”

When he narrated the HBO documentary The Latin Explosion: A New America.

Credit: The Latin Explosion: A New America / HBO

Latino culture in the United States has gone mainstream, and popular culture outside of Spanish-speaking circles is dictated by what celebrities such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Ricky Martin do. Leguizamo celebrates the many accomplishments of Latinos in the entertainment industry by narrating this documentary feature. 

When he boycotted Saturday Night Live over a Donald Trump hosting gig.

Credit: john-leguizamo-donald-trump-yahoo. Digital image. Screener TV

In 2015, after Trump initially enraged the Latino community describing Mexican migrants as “rapists”, Leguizamo collected signatures opposing the then candidate’s appearance in the show. He said: “What he says doesn’t even fall into the category of (politically correct). It is hate mongering. I hope what I do in my work is not denigrating or belittling. I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. This is different. If he had said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.” Preach, Johnny!

When he played Raymond Santana Sr., a proud father in When They See Us.

Credit: When They See Us / Netflix 

Leguizamo portrays the father of one of the Exonerated 5 with aplomb, and with Latino sass and pride. Leguizamo embodies any Latino father who believes in his kid while also acknowledging that racial politics are not always in favor of minorities. We love the rage, vulnerability, and love that Leguizamo is able to infuse his character with. 

When he decided to do his awesome Netflix special Latin History for Morons.

Credit: Latin History for Morons / Netflix

Leguizamo released an amazing Netflix special in which he basically unpacks the history of Latin America and Latinos in the United States in a brutal, yet humorous way. He talks about the savage Spanish rule in the continent, migration and the importance of preserving Spanish. The special is based, of course, on Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show. Wanna see him? Visit  https://latinhistorybroadway.com/ for dates and tickets! Billboard raves about his show: “Latin History for Morons couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It feels like the perfect complement to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. And it provides a security blanket for people of color in knowing their place and value in a world that’s constantly telling them they don’t matter.” You had us at “morons”. 

He supports Latino politicians to bring our community to power.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

The 2020 election will be defined by the variety of voices among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, regardless of whether Donald Trump gets reelected or not. Leguizamo stands by his ideas and supports candidates like Julian Castro, a proud Latino!

He puts his money where his mouth is, supporting Latino talent.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo owns NGL Collective, a media company that produces content for the Latino market. Their philosophy: is based on being a “company forged from a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that today is a leading digital media and entertainment company super-serving the US Latinx marketplace”. Not many seasoned Hollywood actors would actually put manos a la obra, but Leguizamo is not just any celebrity. He says: “I like helping people achieve their dreams just like people helped me.”

He always speaks out against hate.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

On his Instagram account, where he is very active by the way, he often shares heartbreaking stories of racial abuse against Latinos. For example, this terrible act of violence against a mother who was physically abused while picking up her son from school. 

Leguizamo has said basta to the way that authorities are treating kids at the border.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo has been one of the most fierce critics of the zero tolerance position of the Trump administration. As a true connoisseur of US history, Leguizamo often points to the fact that this country was built on the shoulders of immigrants who arrived from all over the world seeking to build a better life. Leguizamo is also often attending marches and raising funds for just causes. He once said: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, they were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition but they got through it. Then you feel, I can do it too”. We wonder how many young Latinos look up to him; we are guessing un chingo

He spreads his gospel of truth.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Amen to this great message on his Insta, where he encapsulates his believes. LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, women’s rights, Black lives mater, we should save the planet and treat each other kindly. If we all lived by these principles otro gallo nos cantaria and the world would be a much better place. Se vale soñar

We’ve all wished that some of his jokes were actually facts.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

If 20 years ago someone had said that the host of a reality show in which the premise was to fire people and basically humiliate them for the sake of ratings would be sitting in the Oval Office, we would have laughed that suggestion off as pure silliness, right? And yet… So this suggestion by Leguizamo that he could run in 2020 is not totally nuts, is it?  By the way: did you see the awesome Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo liked this post? What about she runs for vice president?

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

‘Fuller House’ Actor And Certified Daddy Juan Pablo Di Pace Comes Out And Yasss

Culture

‘Fuller House’ Actor And Certified Daddy Juan Pablo Di Pace Comes Out And Yasss

juanpablodipace / Instagram

Argentinian actor Juan Pablo Di Pace recently came out in a TEDx video recorded in March. The video was released in late June giving Di Pace’s coming out story a special place in the 2019 Pride Month calendar. Social media erupted in applause and praise for the actor living his truth after so much time hiding in the closet.

Juan Pablo Di Pace came out of the closet as a gay man and is already living it up.

That’s right. Di Pace was living it up in Madrid during pride not long after the video of his talk coming out of the closet was publish. Honestly, it is something everyone should be celebrating. Someone being able to live their life fully is something that some people will never be able to understand. There is an attitude of in the Latino community that tries to shun and silence the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing a prominent member of the Latino community sharing his coming out story is such a positive example for younger people struggling to come out.

Di Pace’s coming out via a TEDx is one of the greatest moments of Pride Month 2019.

Not only did Di Pace come out of the closet, but his story about coming out and learning who he is is also very relatable to most members of the LGBTQ+ community. It wasn’t like he figured out that he was different. It had to be told to him.

“My mother says that I came out of her womb with a paper and pencil in my hand and that I used to draw until I fell asleep, which is why I had very few friends. But, actually, the truth is that, unlike most of the boys in my class, I preferred to play with girls. I was more comfortable. They were more fun,” Di Pace told the audience at his TEDx talk. “So, I didn’t think anything of it, right? Until I heard a word that I had never heard before. It started like a thunder that got closer and louder to me as it exploded like egg in my face: marícon, faggot. Well, I didn’t really understand that word at first but the word was here to stay for years. A little know book, as you might know as the Bible, starts with, ‘In the beginning, was the word and the word was made flesh and it dwelt among us.’ So, after failed attempts to fight against this word and try to make friends, my only option was to make friends with white sheets of paper. Paper would not shout or kick me. Paper was kind and on paper everything and anything was possible, just like in the movies.”

The moment of being made to feel and know that you are different from everyone else is something most people deal with at the beginning of coming out. It is a harsh, and some times dangerous, moment that starts the process of coming out and learning who you are as a person.

Fans of the actor showered him with praise and love for coming out.

Credit: judygeitz / Instagram

Coming out, no matter how old you are or how successful you are, is a terrifying experience. You have to be prepared for people to shun you. You need to be ready for people to speak down to you. It is not an easy or fun process for a lot of people.

The emotional reception to Di Pace’s coming is filled with love and appreciation.

Credit: iamlibrado / Instagram

This is something the Di Pace should be so proud of. It is so important for people to come out of the closet. By coming out of the closet, you force others around you to confront their own ideas of the LGBTQ+ community. When people know someone personally who is LGBTQ+, they tend to become more accepting of the community allowing for more people to come out in a safer environment.

You are with your chosen family now, Juan.

Credit: stillwater1979 / Instagram

All people in the LGBTQ+ community understand the importance of a chosen family. Even if your family accepts you, it is important to have a chosen family. It is a way to learn what it means to be gay and how to live life open in a world that can sometimes be really cruel. Your family will want to help but it is hard for your mom and dad to teach about LGBTQ+ culture.

Congratulations on coming out Juan. Sending lots of love.

READ: Grab The Tissues! These Latinas Told Us Their Coming Out Stories And We Have Been Sobbing In Pride

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