This is how Latinos have contributed to the LGBT+ movement in the United States

By Roger Vela

At the end of June 1969, New York City was rocked by demonstrations never seen before on its streets. For several days dozens of people from the LGBT + community clashed with the police because they were tired of the raids in the few spaces designated for them.

At that time, being gay in the United States meant discrimination, same-sex relationships were illegal, meeting between gays was considered immoral and seen as a call to disorder, and homosexuality was perceived as a disease. Therefore, there were few places in the LGBT community, including the Stonewall Inn bar located in Manhattan. That’s where the gay rights protests began, which then spread across the United States and then around the world to create Gay Pride Month.

In Stonewall protests there was a large participation of the Latino community that was doubly discriminated against, first because of its origin and then because of its sexual preferences. Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican origin, was one of the most active Latina leaders during the Stonewall protests. She is considered the Latin pioneer in the fight for the rights of the LBGT+ community in the United States.

Months after the Stonewall protests, Diego Viñales, a young Argentine student, was arrested at the Snake Pit gay bar in New York just for being inside the bar. At the police station, he tried to escape and jumped from a window located on the second floor but fell over a spiked fence and was arrested again. However, this fact provoked outrage among the citizens who called for protests for him to be released.

“I think the same problems that we face as Latinos in general are no different than the problems of the Latino LGBT community: things like immigration, education and racism. All of this is related to issues such as same-sex marriage. It is necessary to have an organization like Unid@s working specifically at the intersection that exists between the LGBT community and the Latino community,” said Noris Chavarría, a member of the organization, in an interview in 2009.

It is difficult to imagine the gay movement in the United States without the participation of the Latino community. Although over the years there is more openness and we see Latin celebrities such as singer Ricky Martin, model Carmen Carrera, actress Michelle Rodríguez and influencer Perez Hilton, celebrating the pride of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, this It would not have been possible without the thousands of Latino people and organizations who have tirelessly defended these rights over the past 50 years. Although there is still much to do.

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