Things That Matter

These Artists And Activists Are Empowering Trans Lives Through Art

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is observed on Nov. 20 each year to mourn those lost to acts of anti-transgender violence. Trans women of color are the most likely to face these kinds of violent attacks. Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the very first TDoR in 1999 and the event has grown every year since with tributes and celebrations of trans lives. Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13-17, is a week-long celebration of trans lives birthed from TDoR. Forward Together, a non-profit social justice organization, is collaborating with trans and non-binary artists of color and trans justice organizations across the country, to create original artwork for Trans Day of Resilience.

The Trans Day of Resilience art project is an extension and reimagining of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Resilience celebrated its fourth year highlighting trans artists and their community. It is an extension of the overall Trans Day of Remembrance by elevating trans and non-binary artists. Together the artists of color and trans-led organizations create artwork that both honors trans community members who have been killed and celebrates those who are still here. Jennicet Gutierrez, an activist for transgender rights and immigrant rights, says Transgender Day of Remembrance was a collaborative idea between Forward Together and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. She says it was suggested by organizers who want a way for people to visually understand the everyday lives of trans people in America.

“People are connecting with the messages these images and it has opened up many conversions.” Gutierrez said. “Art plays a key role in social justice and by doing this we feel we can uplift our trans communities.”

The artists are part of a nationwide network wanting to tell their stories and stories of their communities.

Artists from across the country created specific work that highlight the various people who make up the trans-community. Various non-profits sponsored each art piece and describe the story behind them. Gutierrez says that for many in the trans-community art is an escape and is a way to express their personal story through collective art.

“You can share these works and each people will interpret them in different ways, that’s the power of these pieces,” Gutierrez says. “Art has always been a key part of any social movement and this project we hope encourages those to take action.”

Violence against the trans community has risen steadily in recent years.

According to a report released by the Human Right Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, more than 20 people have been killed so far this year due to anti-transgender violence. The organization has tracked 128 anti-transgender homicides in the U.S. since 2013.

Prerna Sampat, a spokesperson with Forward Together, says that too often we only highlight trans during times of grief and by having art events we can bring awareness to trans lives.

“At a time when depictions of trans folks often center around suffering and death, we want to celebrate the lives of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people in the most unifying way through art,” Sampat said. “Art is fundamental to all social movements because it reconnects us to our deepest values, to what we hold sacred, and to each other.”


READ: Check Out These 9 Trans Activists On Instagram As They Fight For Justice And Equality

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Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

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The Pope Tells Parents of LGBT Children That ‘God Loves Your Children As They Are.’

Things That Matter

The Pope Tells Parents of LGBT Children That ‘God Loves Your Children As They Are.’

Pope Francis is, once again, making headlines for his progressive views on contemporary issues. Since his election to papal office in 2013, Pope Francis has largely been considered open-minded due to his comparatively laid-back stances on controversial topics like divorce, climate change, and LGBT issues.

On Thursday, the Jesuit publication American Magazine reported that Pope Francis recently told the parents of LGBT children that “God loves your children as they are.”

via Getty Images

According to the publication, the Pope was having a dialogue with the parent of a lapsed-Catholic gay child who had left the church because “he did not feel accepted in his diversity”. The woman, whose name is Mara Grassi, is the Vice President of an association called “Jonathan’s Tent,” which “welcomes and provides information and formation to L.G.B.T. Christians, their families and pastoral workers.”

Before describing her interaction with the Pope, Grassi explained her journey as a Catholic parent of a gay child to American Magazine. “For many years I was like a blind person,” she said.

“After I came to know that my son was homosexual, I suffered a lot because the rules of the church made me think that he was excluded from the love of God. Nobody helped me,” Grassi added.

via Getty Images

It was only when Grassi attended a Catholic vigil against homophobia and connected with other parents of gay children that she realized that “faith and homosexuality are not in opposition” and that “God loves my son as he is.” And according to this most recent report, the Pope’s opinion seems to be in accordance with Grassi’s beliefs.

Grassi told American Magazine that she told the Pope she wanted to “create a bridge to the church so that the church too can change its way of looking at our children, no longer excluding them but fully welcoming them.” It was in response to this statement that the Pope told her: “The church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”

According to the same report, before he left, Jonathan’s Tent gifted the Pope a rainbow-colored T-shirt with the words “In love there is no fear” written across the front.

Considering the Catholic Church’s traditionally conservative stances on gay issues, the Pope’s statement was surprising to many. In the past, the Catholic Church’s stance has been that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law.”

The Pope himself also has a complicated track record on gay rights, implying that gay marriage “threatens” the “very institution of marriage”. However, he has also previously expressed sympathy and modest support for people in the queer community as well as their loved ones, saying “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?”.

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