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Transgender Afro-Latina Layleen Polanco Was Found Dead In Prison And Her Family Is Demanding Answers

The family of Layleen Polanco, a transgender Afro-Latina who was found dead in her prison cell at Rikers Island last week, is demanding answers.

On June 7, Polanco, 27, was declared dead after her body was found unresponsive in her cell at the Rose M. Singer Center, a dedicated unit for women, the Washington Post reports. It is still unclear how the woman, of House Xtravaganza, died.

According to the news outlet, a medical staff member attempted to revive Polanco using CPR and a defibrillator around 2:50 p.m. By 3:45 p.m., she was pronounced dead. The Correction Department, which has yet to release a cause of death, said that she did not die as “the result of violence or foul play.”

“This is a tragic loss and we extend our deepest condolences to her family,” Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann told the Post in a statement.

The New York City medical examiner’s office is currently investigating Polanco’s death, but the late woman’s family said the state has not been helpful in providing them with much answers.

“We are heartbroken over the death of our beloved Layleen, whose bright light was an inspiration to all who knew her,” Polanco’s family said in a statement. “As we gather to mourn this tremendous loss, we are left shocked and outraged by the stony silence from the Department of Correction, Mayor’s Office, NYPD, and City government. The family demands answers, and we are entitled to them.”

Polanco’s death comes during LGBTQ Pride month, a time to commemorate the Stonewall riots that sparked the rise of the gay liberation movement and today’s fight for LGBTQ rights, and just nine days after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a monument honoring pioneering transgender women of color activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who led the Stonewall uprising.

“Just days ago, Mayor de Blasio dedicated a monument to two pioneering transgender activists, telling the trans community that ‘we are sending a clear message: We see you…and we will protect you.’ The City failed to protect Layleen, and now it is trying to sweep her death under the rug. We will not allow it,” Polanco’s family said.

Her death also underlines activists’ calls to decriminalize sex work. According to the Rolling Stone, Polanco, who was scheduled to be released on June 13, was being held in Rikers on failure to pay $500 bail resulting from bench warrants — warrants that are issued when an individual does not appear in court — related to her arrest in August 2017. She was apprehended for misdemeanor prostitution and a low-level drug possession offense after allegedly agreeing to perform oral sex on an undercover officer in exchange for money during an NYPD sting investigation.

The details, or lack thereof, surrounding Polanco’s death has caused outcry on social media, with politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who decried her loss of life and said her family “deserves to know what happened to her,” and Decrim NY, an organization lobbying for a bill introduced this week that would decriminalize sex work in New York state, to speak out.

“We urgently need to decriminalize sex work now — actually decriminalize sex work, not just more reforms that widen the net and tie people up in the legal system — to protect our TGNC communities of color who rely on the sex trade to survive,” said Jessica Peñaranda, Decrim NY Steering Committee member and director of Movement Building at the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. “We cannot have another death. Not one more.”

Polanco is the 10th Black transgender woman found dead in the country since January 2019.

Read: Bamby Salcedo Turned Her Experience As A Trans Latina Immigrant Into A National Organization

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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

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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Star Denali Serves Disco in Kali Uchis “Telepatía” Video

Latidomusic

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Star Denali Serves Disco in Kali Uchis “Telepatía” Video

Even though she was recently eliminated from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Denali is creating waves online with her lip sync videos. In her latest visual, the Mexican-American drag queen tackles Kali Uchis’ viral hit “Telepatía.”

The “Latina que Patina” made her mark on Drag Race.

Denali, the self-proclaimed “Latina que Patina,” was competing on season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. During her run on the show, she served plenty of moments that paid homage to her Mexican heritage, including a standout lip-sync dressed as Quetzalcoatl.

Denali, who is also of Jewish descent, finished in eighth place. We sadly missed out on a Denali and Valentina crossover moment because of that elimination. While we’re sure there will be an All-Stars placement in her future, she’s keeping her digital presence alive. On Denali’s YouTube channel, she’s done lip sync videos for Britney Spears’ “If U Seek Amy” and the Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up.”

Denali’s “Telepatía” video is everything.

Recently Denali released a video lip sync of Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis’ “Telepatía.” This is the perfect synergy of queer Latina power as Denali noted in her post. “Super thankful to Kali Uchis and her team at EMI Records for this opportunity!” she wrote. “Having had this song on repeat since it came out and it’s such an honor to promote for more queer Latinx queens.” Uchis is openly bisexual.

In the VHS-like visual, Denali is living her disco fantasy. There are moments that are reminiscent of Studio 54 and other stunning shots of the drag queen at the beach. Shanté, you stay!

Denali is not the only queer artist taking on Kali Uchis’ “Telepatía.” She retweeted the account @imirregulargirl who gives the sensual smash justice as well.

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

Read: Denali Foxx is Serving Mexicana Representation on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

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