identities

Hispanic Heritage Month Is Over But These Latino Trailblazers Should Be Celebrated All Year Long

littlelizziev / gloriaestefan / Instagram

Hispanic Heritage Month ended on Oct. 15, but our appreciation for the activists and pioneers that came before us will last many lifetimes. Honoring these people, and celebrating them, especially with any young people you have in your life, makes the whole community feel valued, reflected, and rooted in our history, which is often missing from history books. Here are trailblazers that everyone in the Latino community should know about.

Cesar Chavez

CREDIT: @rhs_library11575 / Instagram

Thankfully, we learned about Cesar Chavez in our history books in like one paragraph. Chavez was a major change-maker for migrant farm workers in the U.S. in the 1960s. Chavez dropped out of school early on to help his family in the fields.

He organized a boycott so large, that it gave him leverage, as the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association (today known as the United Farm Workers of America) to unionize.

Dolores Huerta

CREDIT: @txstbcat08 / Instagram

Here’s what that middle school paragraph left out. Dolores Huerta was Cesar Chavez’s equal partner and co-founder of UFW. She helped organize the 1965 grape strike and led all the negotiations that resulted in a more fair contract for the workers involved.

Huerta was the first Latina inducted into the National Woman’s Fall of Fame and is responsible for our widespread use of the phrase “si se puede.” Both Chavez and Huerta were early gay rights activists and feminists as well.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

CREDIT: @wes_sherman1 / Instagram

Sonia Sotomayor sits as the Supreme Court of the United States’ first and only woman of color to achieve the highest court in the land. Appointed by President Obama in 2009, the bar was set incredibly higher than the recent Senate hearings.

Republican moderate Ana Navarro recently tweeted, “I am so old, I remember when a Supreme Court nominee calling herself a “wise Latina”, was considered a scandal.”

Berta Cáceres

CREDIT: @feminist_role_models / Instagram

Berta Cáceres was a Honduran award-winning Indigenous environmental activist who campaigned successfully to block the Gualcarque River from a dam construction. Her tribe, the Lencas, consider the river a sacred source of water, food and medicine.

Anti-Indigenous rights activists sent her death threats for years. On March 3, 2016, at least two attackers broke into her home and shot her to death. Her death sparked an outcry for the high rates of environmentalist deaths around the world.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

CREDIT: @gabriel_garcia_marquez_ / Instagram

Colombian author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of the most lauded writers of our time. He won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, best known for the magic realism he invoked in all his fiction, especially “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Sophie Cruz

CREDIT: @sharabkaufman / Instagram

That is an 8-year-old you’re looking at and she is already trailblazing. When she was just 5 years old, she gave Pope Francis a letter during his 2015 visit to the White House.

It read, “I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents. I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy.”

Today, she’s still fighting hard for her parents, who are undocumented immigrants. She was one of the keynotes at this year’s Women’s March.

Sylvia Mendez

CREDIT: @sylviamendez92 / Instagram

The daughter of a Puerto Rican and a Mexican immigrant, Mendez became a trailblazer while barely realizing it. Her parents sued the all-white Westminster School District after they forced her to go to a segregated school.

In the 1947 Mendez v. Westminster case, it was decided: California would integrate public schools. Today, Mendez is a major civil rights activist for Latino student rights in the U.S.

Lizzie Velásquez

CREDIT: @littlelizziev / Instagram

Lizzie Velásquez is a Latina motivational speaker and disabled advocate. She was born with a rare congenital condition, which makes it impossible for her to gain any weight. Years ago, you may have seen her face when her cyber-bulling reached despicable heights as a YouTube video started circulating called, “World’s Ugliest Woman.”

Today, she tours the globe to speak out against bullying and to advocate for disabled people. You can watch a film about her life, called “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velásquez Story” on Amazon Prime.

Frida Kahlo

CREDIT: @neongreece / Instagram

There’s no question that bisexual Mexican artist is the icon for queer Latinas everywhere. Kahlo channeled her gender expression (girl wore suits), sexuality, politics and mental and physical disabilities into her art, and we’re better because of it.

Sylvia Rivera

CREDIT: @glsen / Instagram

Gays, listen up. Sylvia Rivera was the trans woman of color who started the Stonewall uprising. She struggled within her own community to have her voice heard, but she demanded a seat at the table of the activists who first marched for gay rights in America.

Shane Ortega

CREDIT: @glsen / Instagram

Caption: “Shane Ortega is a #Latinx two-Spirit, disabled, retired American combat soldier who served three duty tours and became the first openly #trans man in the U.S. military. He fought for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and is still fighting for transgender rights in the military today. He co-founded the nonprofit SPARt*A for members of the #LGBTQ military community. He continues to advocate for people of color, athletes, LGBTQ health competency, veterans, woman, and disabled people.”

Orlando Cruz

CREDIT: @glsen / Instagram

Orlando Cruz is the first and only openly gay man to win a world title in boxing. GLSEN reports that Cruz said, “I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

Side note: Puerto Rico ranks higher than the United States on Spartacus’ LGBTQ Travel Index.

Gloria Estefan

CREDIT: @gloriaestefan / Instagram

Gloria Estefan was born in Havana, but her family fled to Miami after the Cuban Revolution. She is the official Queen of Latin Pop, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama for her contributions to American music.

Last year, she became the first Cuban-American to be named as one of the Kennedy Center Honors.

Selena Quintanilla

CREDIT: @athena_vintage / Instagram

Behold, the Queen of Queens. Selena Quintanilla is probably the most celebrated Mexican-American artists of our time. She broke through a male-dominated Tejano genre and made it so much better.

Sammy Sosa

CREDIT: @live_it_up_973 / Instagram

Born in the Dominican Republic, Sammy Sosa is a major icon in Major League Baseball and in the Latino community. He is one of only nine players in MLB history to hit 600 career home runs.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa

CREDIT: @txstbcat08 / Instagram

In 1993, Dr. Ochoa became the first Latina woman in the world to go to space. She spent nine days aboard the shuttle Discovery. She then went on to become the first Latina director at Johnson Space Center.

Edward James Olmos

CREDIT: @v1rul1 / Instagram

Olmos is Mexican-American, raised in Los Angeles. He was made famous for portraying Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver.” He was the first Mexican to win an Oscar nomination.

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua

CREDIT: @glsen / Instagram

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua is famous for co-editing the anthology “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.” Her work focuses on the language border used to mistreat women in Chicano and Latinx culture, lesbians in the straight world, and Chicanx in white American society.

Carlos Santana

CREDIT: @txstbcat08 / Instagram

Carlos Santana is the Mexican American who pioneered a whole new genre of music that we can only call Santana. He fused rock with Latin American jazz, integrates Latin and African rhythms in with his bluesy guitar sets. He is an icon, no question.

Rita Moreno

CREDIT: @theritamoreno / Instagram

The woman, the myth, the legend: Rita Moreno is the only Latinx person to ever become an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award winner). She was only the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award and rose to fame playing Anita in West Side Story.


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The Trump Administration Is Threatening To Erase Trans People But Here's How People Are Fighting Back

identities

The Trump Administration Is Threatening To Erase Trans People But Here’s How People Are Fighting Back

@victor_97_lopez / Twitter

According to a memo leaked to The New York Times, the Trump administration plans to narrowly define gender by a person’s genitalia at birth. This decision will directly remove rights put in place by the Obama administration for the 1.4 million people who identify as trans.

The Trump administration has already scrubbed the federal government’s websites of the word ‘trans.’ While Trump attempts to erase trans people from our history books, government census information and the military, the trans community rallied with the hashtag #WontBeErased.

Here are some of the ways LGBTQ+ people and their allies raised their voices against the decision.

Americans took to the streets and social media to push back against Trump’s move to erase the identity of trans people.

CREDIT: @JanetsGoodNews / Twitter

Tens of thousands of people marched in New York, Washington, Boston and Los Angeles for trans rights within days of the announcement. Trans people have been under attack for years with bathroom bills, under investigated and reported crimes and forced misgendering in prisons and detention centers.

This is the man behind the memo that has sparked such outrage across the country.

CREDIT: @iskandrah / Twitter

Meet Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. He was one of the conservatives that was outraged with Obama’s decision to expand the definition of gender to individuals, rather than state-regulated definitions.

Meanwhile, The National Center for Transgender Equality took to the Lincoln Memorial steps.

CREDIT: @TransEquality / Twitter

Caption: “We #WontBeErased, and we won’t be forgotten, and we won’t be ignored. Today, we worked with local advocates and community members to unfurl a 150-foot trans flag on some of our nation’s most visible real estate: the Lincoln Memorial.”

Remember this name: Matthew Emanuel Alejandro Cox.

CREDIT: @pedrojulio / Twitter

Caption: “Bravo! Matthew Emanuel Alejandro Cox faces U.S. Secretary of Justice Jeff sessions, in the face of the Trump administration’s attempt to remove rights and protections from transgender people. #WontBeErased #TransRightsAreHumanRights”

Activists dropped a massive trans flag at the Dodger Stadium.

CREDIT: @juanagallardo / Twitter

While Fox News did not cover the flag in their broadcast of the World Series Game 5, pretty much every other news outlets reported this. The flag was unfurled by TransLatin@, a trans advocacy group led by trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo.

Los Angeles is leading the fight for trans inclusion and protection of rights.

CREDIT: @allantweeting / Twitter

This was seen hanging over an overpass in Downtown Los Angeles during rush hour traffic. Hint: your town has public canvasses begging for this kind of adornment.

Boston’s Paramount Theatre Shouted Their Support

CREDIT: @upandoutcomic / Twitter

Massachusetts recently passed the first statewide measure protecting trans people from discrimination. The measure prohibits gender-based discrimination in public places.

There was a “No on 3” campaign that failed in further trans discrimination.

CREDIT: @itsashlyperez / Twitter

It shows an older guy hiding in a locker room and waiting to pounce on a teenage girl. Countless studies and reports prove that trans people are not using the law to commit sexual assault in bathrooms.

Other folks made supporting trans folks their job.

CREDIT: @meakoopa / Twitter

There are a million ways to show solidarity with trans people, whether that’s wearing a pin, a shirt, or setting up an ofrenda in your local library or bookstore.

Celebrities like Sara Ramirez are posting mad support online.

CREDIT: @SaraRamirez / Twitter

Ramirez banded together with other queer icons to create a video of support for trans people. Since the memo leaked, calls to the trans suicide hotline have quadrupled. These are quite literally very dangerous times.

Trans model Laith Ashley De La Cruz hasn’t let the memo slow him down.

CREDIT: @laith_ashley / Instagram

He posted a few tweets claiming the hashtag #WontBeErased, followed by some very poderoso underwear shots. I’m here for this.

Some emblems standing for trans pride have been vandalized by anti-trans people.

CREDIT: @AmandaTaylor199 / Twitter

The students at the Daytona Beach college campus repainted a rainbow flag over it and it was once again vandalized. Activists refuse to be silenced and continue to beat the drum

The fear isn’t isolated to the U.S.

CREDIT: @team_mariconas / Twitter

It has been a scary time for the queer community across the Americas. The newly elected president of Brazil has openly said that his son would be dead to him if he were gay.

A lot of people are nervous and worried.

CREDIT: @Belifving_ / Twitter

The current political climate has left the country divided over what to do. There are two strong camps pushing in opposite directions and neither seems to be giving any ground. That’s democracy and it all comes down to votes and ideology being boosted that you agree with.

As always, we will continue to push pa’lante.

CREDIT: @fagsigns / Instagram

It’s the only thing we can do: keep moving forward. I am not a trans person, but as a human being, we all need to rally. They’re coming for all of us, and trans people are the absolute most vulnerable segment of our community.

Call your senators.

CREDIT: @Into / Twitter

Demand that they take up the fight for equal rights for all. Demand that they don’t allow our federal government to legally box our gender identity into an immutable, biological trait.

Educate yourself.

CREDIT: @LGTBNews / Twitter

Read books from trans people of color. Read their memoirs. The New York Times recommends works of fiction by trans writers like “Freshwater” by Akwaeke Emezi and “An Unkindness of Ghosts” by Rivers Solomon.

Stay positive and own your power.

CREDIT: @Alex_lograno / Twitter

The Trump administration has the support of white supremacists, which essentially fears any group that threatens the white community.

So give the trans people in your life some extra love today and always.

CREDIT: @TobilTop / Twitter

If you’re an ally, you have more power to exact change safely than your trans friends and family. Be strong and support them however they need.

Remember that you have to stay engaged in the political process if you want longterm change.

CREDIT: @victor_97_lopez / Twitter

Twitter user Victor Lopez couldn’t have put it better: “We all bleed red. We all breathe the same air. We all walk the same land. We all crave the same dream. We are el equal!! #transrights #translivesmatter”


READ: These 19 Straight Allies Are Using Their Fame And Influence To Stand Up For Their LGBTQ+ Brothers And Sisters

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