Things That Matter

Victoria Cruz Sees Hope For The Future Of LGBTQ+ Rights 50 Years After She Witnessed The Stonewall Riots

The history of Gay Rights in the country date back to the late ’60s and the epicenter was Manhattan. The core fighters of the LGBTQ community include Marsha P. Johnson, Scott G. Brown, Sylvia Rivera, and a slew of other pioneers. The sad thing is this generation has passed or will very soon, which is why we have to honor their legacy while they’re still alive. One of those people is an inspiring person in our Latinx community.

Victoria Cruz, who is in her 70s, is a survivor of the Stonewall Riots and is still very much a part of the fight for LGBTQ rights.

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Cruz, who was born in Puerto Rico, is one of 11 children that grew up in New York. While Cruz was born a male, she knew since she was in high school that she was a woman. Back in the ’60s, that was no easy thing to admit, yet her Puerto Rican family supported her transition.

While her family and close community were supportive, Cruz faced immense hardships including harassment from the police, and later in the ’90s, she was assaulted.

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Four of her coworkers physically assaulted her, which left her in ruins.

“I was very angry. Very angry,” Cruz said in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2017. “The worst part of it is that I couldn’t feel the ground beneath me, and added that she was “was contemplating suicide,” at the time.

But she overcame that tough time and is recognized as a leader in the movement for Gay Rights.

Yet, despite the hate and violence she faced, Cruz pushed on standing up for her LGBTQ+ family.

“I used to go to St. Vincent’s on my lunch hour…and I would see her,” Cruz told The Advocate. “She called to me, ‘Victoria, come here.’ And she always called me Dickie, you know, so when she said, ‘Victoria come here,’ I knew that she meant business. I sat down, and she looked at me. She said, ‘Try to keep the community together because we are our own worst enemy. And there’s power in numbers.’ And then she said, ‘The world will come up to try to divide us, and when you divide a community, you conquer it. So try to keep the community together.’”

As a trans woman and pioneer of the LGBTQ movement, Cruz said positive change is happening right now.

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“I’m optimistic, and I’m hopeful that it will change for the better,” she told The Advocate. “There’s power in numbers. If we unite and keep united, we can make the future different, and what we want it to be. By galvanizing one another, we galvanize each other. And with the same frame of mind, the same frame of thought, we can change what’s happening.”

Trans rights are the new frontier in the LGBTQ+ movement. Despite the contributions made to the movement by trans women of color, cis members of the LGBTQ+ community ignore their plight or add to the harassment.

“There is so much hatred directed toward queer people, particularly transgender women of color. For what? Why? I think it may be about people’s own insecurities about their own identities and sexualities. And further, people don’t know their history,” Cruz told BC/Stories. “The transgender experience isn’t new. It’s as old as the human experience, and anyone who does their research would know this. I think society needs to be educated, and maybe after being educated, empathy will follow.”

READ: Zuri Moreno Made Sure The Trans Community In Montana Remained Safe

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More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

Things That Matter

More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

Trans rights are under siege in over half of the United States this year, as 28 states have proposed one or more anti-trans bills. The bills range from banning trans children from playing on sports teams to prohibiting doctors from giving trans youth life-saving care. 

Despite winning the White House and both houses of Congress, we cannot grow complacent. Now is the time for others from the LGBTQ community and allies to stand up and protect our trans brothers and sisters.

At least 28 states have proposed anti-trans legislation that could severely harm the community.

Less than three months into the new year, Republican lawmakers have already introduced a record number of anti-trans bills across the country.

According to a report published Monday by Axios, at least 73 pieces of legislation have already been put forward in state legislatures targeting members of the transgender community. Of those proposals, 65 specifically single out trans youth, such as bills prohibiting the kinds of medical care doctors can offer trans minors and others seeking to limit the participation of trans student athletes in school sports. 

Notable examples include legislative efforts by South Dakota and Mississippi, both of which passed bills in the past week blocking trans girls from competing in school athletics in accordance with their gender identity. After being approved by their respective Houses and Senates, their governors have vowed to sign them.

These would be the first bills of their kind to become law in the U.S. after numerous attempts to pass anti-trans sports bills in previous years. In 2019, a bill targeting trans student athletes failed in the South Dakota House by just one vote.

LGBTQ+ advocates are warning that the influx of this type of legislation will harm trans and nonbinary youth.

Trans advocates and experts argue that bills like this do not protect young trans people, and recent studies support this. In February, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report which argued that banning the trans community from certain sports programs would deprive an entire group of people of the benefits of athletics, including lower risks of depression, anxiety, and drug use. Despite so many states introducing legislation targeting trans youth in sports, the report also found that the argument of an “unfair advantage” does not actually hold up to data-driven scrutiny.

“This has been a significant part of my work at the ACLU for the past six years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, told CNN. “There have never been this many bills targeting trans youth voted out of committee and then making it to the floor.”

There is widespread opposition to anti-trans bills, and not just from LGBTQ+ civil rights groups. More than 55 major corporations have endorsed a statement against these bills and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in general; they include Facebook, Pfizer, Microsoft, AT&T, Apple, Dell, American Airlines, and many more. Nearly 550 college athletes have signed a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association demanding that championship games be pulled from states that have anti-trans sports laws or are close to enacting them. More than 1,000 child welfare groups have taken a stand against legislation that would keep trans youth out of school sports or deny them health care.

States that enact anti-LGBTQ+ legislation often experience boycotts, as was the case with North Carolina and its anti-trans “bathroom bill” in 2016 and Indiana with its discriminatory religious freedom law in 2015. The former has now been repealed, the latter amended.

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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.

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Read: Selena Gomez and Myke Towers’ “Dámelo To’” is Everything: Listen to the ‘Revelación’ Standout

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