Things That Matter

Bad Bunny And Ricky Martin Killed A ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill In Puerto Rico Furthering LGBTQ+ Rights In The Caribbean

badbunnypr / ricardorossello / ricky_martin / Instagram

Governors in the U.S. have tried and failed multiple times to enshrine discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community by passing “religious freedom” bills. At the heart of these bills is the idea that someone’s religion is enough to discriminate against those of different faiths, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Puerto Rico tried to follow the same failed path as Indiana and the backlash was swift and victorious after Ricky Martin and Bad Bunny (Benito Martinez) spoke out against the bill forcing Governor Ricardo Rosselló to backtrack on his bill to discriminate.

In April, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló presented the Puerto Rican House of Representatives a “religious freedom” bill.

Credit: @lgbtpr / Twitter

The bill was months in the making and Gov. Rosselló showed his full support for the bill, House Bill 2069. The bill would have allowed for government employees to openly discriminate against people who went against their religious beliefs.

Ricky Martin spoke up against the measure and called out the Puerto Rican government and their willingness to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

“While the world calls for equality, respect for diversity and the defense of human rights, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the Governor of Puerto Rico are pushing for a measure that goes against all of the above and it encourages division, prejudice, hatred and the lack of respect for individuality,” Martin wrote on his fan website. “It does so under a premise that undermines the constitutional protections against discrimination on the basis of race, sex or belief, and in its place, justifies an irrational protection of the religious convictions of government employees.”

“As a member of the LGBTT community, I join the constituency that affirms that there has never been a willingness among our LGBTT people to allow for the validation or legalization of discrimination against us.”

“House Bill 2069, filed at the request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló and promoted by Representative Charbonier, achieve nothing more than opening the doors to hatred towards anyone who doesn’t share the same ideology, who simply belong to the LGBTT community, or who don’t  have the same color skin, amidst many other discriminatory measures.”

“Authentic religious freedom calls for respecting everyone equally.”

Bad Bunny also used his platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico.

Credit: badbunnypr / Instagram

“While we ‘bad guys’ do out to unite people and try to send a message of respect and tolerance, the leaders of my country work to do the opposite,” he wrote on Instagram. “We cannot take steps backwards, NEVER! @ricardorossello you make excellent coffee, I know that you can also make an excellent decision.”

Calle 13’s Residente joined his Puerto Rican peers to call out the Puerto Rican government’s wishes to strip LGBTQ+ people of their humanity with the law.

These calls against the action came during Pride month when the U.S. is supposed to be celebrating and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, which still faces discrimination and violence.

After the outcry, Gov. Rosselló reversed his support for the bill and ordered the Puerto Rican House of Representatives to shelf the bill.

Credit: @ricky_martin / Twitter

“WE WON! The recent years, Western countries have made significant advances in guaranteeing equal right for the LGBTT community,” Martin tweeted.

Martin celebrated the decision by educating his followers about what the measure would mean for the LGBTQ+ community.

Credit: @ricky_martin / Twitter

“These advances were threatened recently in Puerto Rico, where the House fo Representatives passed legislation that endangered the progress won in the last decade and risked feeding the division, prejudice, and tensions between the communities.”

He did not sugar coat the true meaning behind the legislation.

Credit: @ricky_martin / Twitter

“By granting government employees the power to act in accordance with their religious convictions, personal values, and principles, this regressive legislation would have sanctioned the practice of institutional discrimination on the part of those who committed themselves to a life in public service.”

Congratulations, Ricky!

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

It just goes to show that enough public outcry can make politicians listen to the majority instead of the vocal minority.

READ: After Delay Caused By Border Wall And Trump’s Feud with Puerto Rico, Congress Finally Passes $19.1 Billion Disaster Aid Package

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

mirror_cooperative_ / Instagram

Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

Menudo, The World’s Original Boy Band, Is Getting The Series Treatment Thanks To Amazon Prime

Entertainment

Menudo, The World’s Original Boy Band, Is Getting The Series Treatment Thanks To Amazon Prime

The 1970s’ Latino boy band of your dreams Menudo is getting a scripted television series on Amazon Prime. Produced by Endemol Shine Latino with Somos Prods, Boomdog TV, and Piñolywood Studios, Súbete a Mi Moto will tell the story of the band’s four-decade spanning history. The first season of the show will tell the origin story of the band. Best of all it will be available in over 200 countries and territories so fans around the world can rejoice. 

The band has a special history not just because it launched the careers of Latino giants like Ricky Martin, Draco Rosa, and Edgardo Diaz, but because of Menudo’s unusual practice of replacing members once they reached the age of 16. It’s easy to see why a band with such a sprawling group of members would make a great foundation for storytelling — there’s so much to be said and lots of opportunities to cast amazing, young Latinx actors.

This is the third series by Endemol Shine Latino and Boomdog to focus on iconic Latinx artists. The collaborators also released the biopic series “El Vato” about the Mexican singer El Dasa on NBC Universo and “El Ganador” which focuses on Puerto Rican reggaeton artist Nicky Jam which will air on Telemundo soon. 

Súbete A Mi Moto

The new Menudo series borrows its name from the band’s hit song “Súbete a mi Moto.” Founded in Puerto Rico by Edgardo Diaz in the 1970s, Menudo was an unprecedented success never before seen with a band featuring Latinx teenage boys. With 39 members over four decades, the band finally disbanded in 2009. However, it helped launch the careers of many popular Latin icons like Ricky Martin and Draco Rosa who were members during the height of the group’s fame in the ’80s. The band has sold over 20 million albums worldwide. 

“There are musical phenomena that become well-known landmarks because of their impact both with their songs and stage presence, as well as for the richness of their personal experiences” Luis Villanueva, president and CEO of Somos Prods. told Variety. 

“Menudo is one of such phenomena and its history, as told by the creator and manager of the band, guarantees the excitement and appeal of each of this series’ episodes.”

So who will star in the series? 

Castmembers have been hired but they have not been announced yet. Fortunately, the creators consulted with former members for accuracy. 

“We are thrilled that Prime Video will be sharing this special series with their global audience. We’ve just started production and have assembled a tremendous cast and production team.  And we congratulate and thank our partners at Somos and Piñolywood,” said Alejandro Rincon, CEO Endemol Shine Boomdog. 

While I can’t speak for the morality of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, one thing that is great about it streaming on Prime is that it is made with Spanish-speaking and Latin American audiences in mind as well as Latinxs living in America. Moreover, can you think of the last time you saw a show with a predominantly Puerto Rican cast? 

 “The Series will present an amazing Puerto Rican story of one of the first boy bands assembled and how its manager made it a global sensation. The group became a trailblazer in the music industry. Excited that Prime Video will provide a global distribution platform for this Series that we are sure global audiences will enjoy watching.”

Menudo’s Impact

Menudo released their first album in 1977, however it wasn’t until the 1980s that the effort became a household name. By 1983, they had a 4-minute series called “Menudo on ABC” during Saturday morning cartoons, solidifying their success in Latin America and the United States. Known for their hits  “Quiero Ser”, “Rock En La TV”, “Claridad”, and “Mi Banda Toca Rock,” Menudo has left a lasting impact on multiple generations. 

Despite being one of Menudo’s biggest stars Ricky Martin told Rolling Stone in 1999, he was rejected three times because he was too short. However, Martin was persistent. 

“I’d see Menudo and get this sparkle, like I couldn’t live without being in the band. For them, the detaching process was very hard. But, me, I was ready for it,” Martin said. 

While earning a spot on Menudo was a coveted gig it wouldn’t last for long. The band rotated members after each boy turned 16 in order to keep teens interested over the decades.

The original lineup consisted of two sets of brothers, Fernando and Nefty Sallaberry from Ponce, Puerto Rico and Carlos Meléndez, Oscar Meléndez, and Ricky Meléndez. The first season will feature fifteen, 60-minute episodes and is expected to follow the boys and Edgardo Diaz’s musical journey and rise to fame