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This Trans Puerto Rican Voguing Master Is So Iconic That Even Beyonce Imitated Her Dance Moves

Leiomy Maldonado has been on the Voguing/Ballroom scene for a while and she is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in that world. Her moves have inspired the choreography of some of music’s biggest stars, including Beyoncé. Yet, she didn’t join the scene to make it big. This trans puertorriqueña from the Bronx found an escape and stress reliever in dance. It was later in her career that she realized that it was what she was called to do. Maldonado spoke to mitú about dance, life, and inspiring major music stars.

Leiomy Maldonado is a dance icon but it wasn’t always that way.


Maldonado was first introduced to voguing when she was only about 14 or 15 years old. She was at the Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx when a chance encounter with a stranger introduced her, via VHS, to the world of voguing.

Maldonado admits that she was immediately fascinated by voguing and wanted to know more. Before she knew it, it became her stress reliever.


“From the beginning, I really didn’t think that I’d be making a career or that I would have grown this passionate about dance,” Maldonado told mitú. “For me, in the beginning, I just fell in love with that style and me going through the transition in my life, I didn’t know how to express that and I used voguing to do that. With using voguing as a stress reliever, I fell in love with the style and fell in love with just the dance overall and from there, people started seeing me and people started telling me that I was going to be something and that I had something special.”

Maldonado said that she always felt supported by her family in her dance career.

My Dad ^__^

A post shared by Leiomy Maldonado (@wond3rwoman1) on


“They [my family] always did [support my ambitions]. For me, I’ve always been the person to go for what I like and what I believe in and things like that,” Maldonado told mitú. “I didn’t really rely on support from my family even though they were supportive. It was just something that I was like, “This is what I’m going to do and I really don’t care who has anything to say about it or who thinks anything about whatever. I’m just doing it because I want to.’”

But it wasn’t until “America’s Best Dance Crew” that Maldonado’s family truly understood what their daughter meant by transitioning and pursuing a serious career in dance.

“It wasn’t until I was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they kind of started to understand more because I was able to express myself through TV and explain a little bit of my story and they were able to see that themselves and see why I wasn’t around,” Maldonado told mitú about a moment she realized dance was what she was supposed to be doing. “After that, they understood my career; they understood the woman that I’ve always been and that I’ve grown into. You know, just being confident.”

Maldonado also said it helped her family learn about her transition. “When I began my transition, my family didn’t quite understand what it was because, back then, people weren’t really educated on what being trans was. You either were gay or a lesbian. Like, if you were born a male and showed signs for femininity they would just automatically label you as being gay.” She continued saying, “It wasn’t until I was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they kind of started to understand more because I was able to express myself through TV and explain a little bit of my story and they were able to see that themselves and see why I wasn’t around. After that, they understood my career; they understood the woman that I’ve always been and that I’ve grown into. You know, just being confident.”

As her dance career grew, so did the number of people imitating her style until it reached peak mainstream culture a la Beyoncé.

Have a beautiful and blessed day everyone ???

A post shared by Leiomy Maldonado (@wond3rwoman1) on


At first, Maldonado says that she was excited and a little flattered that big stars were using her dance moves but after a while, she realized that people weren’t giving her any credit and only people who knew her knew that she created the moves.

So, she did what any dance icon does (not really). She started her own ballroom house, The House Of Amazon.

The House of Amazon is not about walking balls and being “fab”. I created my house to help my kids grown individually in…

Posted by Leiomy Maldonado on Tuesday, February 23, 2016


“I’ve been a part of a few houses. Actually last year, I introduced my house, which was the house that I opened, the House of Amazon, I introduced to the ballroom scene. We’ve been open for about two years now,” Maldonado told mitú. “Houses are like families so that all depends on what kind of people you want to be around. Every family has their own style their own kind of surroundings or people who they deal with or things that they do and it all depends.”

If there is anything Maldonado would tell other LGBTQ Latinx about thriving it’s to build confidence in who you are.

Feeling myself after class tonight ^__^

A post shared by Leiomy Maldonado (@wond3rwoman1) on


“I would like to share that I was an underdog in the beginning. I feel like it took a lot of struggles and things for me to go through that I went through within the ballroom for me to become as strong and confident as I am now,” Maldonado tells LGBTQ youths. “I feel like a lot of people look for confidence and they look for acceptance in other people but they don’t accept themselves yet and I feel like that’s very important. You have to love yourself and accept yourself before you can grow and be part of other people.”


READ: After Trump’s Anti-Trans Order, Carmen Carrera Has Some Words For Him

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A Transgender Latina Who Was Deported From The US Was Murdered In El Salvador

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A Transgender Latina Who Was Deported From The US Was Murdered In El Salvador

A transgender woman who was deported from the US after seeking refuge from anti-LGBTQ violence in her homeland was murdered following her return to El Salvador, the Washington Blade reports.

When the woman, who was known as Camila, went missing, the Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans, a trans advocacy group in the Central American country, started a search and discovered that she had been admitted to a hospital in San Salvador, the nation’s capital, on Jan. 31. She passed away on Feb. 3.

Authorities are still unsure what happened during the attack, but she was found outside the capital and transported to Rosales National Hospital with “multiple injuries.”

Camila entered the US on one of the migrant caravans last year after receiving threats because of her gender identity. According to Salvadoran activists, US officials did not believe her life was in danger and deported her back to her home country four-to-five months before her death.

“She migrated to the US because of threats that she had received, but she was deported because they didn’t believe her,” Aislinn Odaly, an independent LGBTI rights advocate, told the publication.

Camila is the second trans woman who was murdered in El Salvador this month. On Feb. 8, a woman named Lolita was killed with a machete in Sonsonate, but there are little more details surrounding her death.

According to the Washington Blade, neither El Salvador’s National Civil Police nor the country’s attorney general has classified the murders as hate crimes, particularly because Lolita and Camila died in public hospitals where reports didn’t identify them as victims of violence.

“We want justice and that these cases are investigated and the reformed penal code procedures to be applied when those who are responsible are found,” Alfaro told the Blade, alluding to a 2015 amendment to El Salvador’s legal code that enhances penalties for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Although we have begun the year badly, we hope these crimes establish precedents for there to also be a positive legal framework that regulates the situation of trans people, especially the situation of violence and insecurity,” she continued.

Read: In Chile, This School For Transgender Students Allows Kids To Learn In A Safe And Affirming Environment

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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

Lilliam Rivera has written two novels featuring strong Latinx female characters including her latest Dealing in Dreams. The Puerto Rican YA author released The Education of Margot Sanchez in 2017, a romantic coming of age story set in South Bronx that explored family dysfunction and the importance of being true to yourself. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, Rivera penned the ode to her hometown after relocating to Los Angeles. The book was nominated for the 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association and Rivera has also been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

In Dealing in Dreams, Rivera takes readers on the kind of fantasy adventure she imagines her teenage self would’ve wanted to read. The feminist dystopic novel is clearly influenced by Latinx culture following the adventures of sixteen-year-old Nalah and her all-girl crew Las Mal Criadas and her dreams of escaping Mega City to the exclusive Mega Towers. Read on to learn about the strong Latinx women in the book, why she chose to portray toxic femininity, and how immigration came into play. The book will be out March 5 and she’ll be talking at bookstores throughout the U.S.

The story focuses on an all-girl crew, can you tell me more about Las Mal Criadas and how you developed these characters?

Nalah is the sixteen-year-old leader of Las Mal Criadas, an all-girl crew who patrol the streets of Mega City. They are notoriously fierce but Nalah is wary of the violent life. She believes the way off the streets is securing a home in the exclusive Mega Towers where her leader Déesse lives. She’ll do anything to reach that goal. I wrote a draft of Dealing In Dreams six years ago and Nalah came to me first. I had just given birth to my second daughter and there were people, mostly women, who remarked how my dream of being a published author would have to be placed on hold. Rage can be a great incentive for generating art. I refuse to be pigeonholed. I wrote this draft while taking care of a newborn and I put it away for six years, workshopping a chapter here and there, until a year ago when I returned to the manuscript and still felt its relevance.

Can you describe Mega City and the Mega Towers and their significance in the story?

@lilliamr / Instagram

I based the concept of the Mega Towers on the housing projects I grew up in the South Bronx. The Twin Park West Housing Projects is a U-shaped structure connected by three buildings. With the Bronx slowly being gentrified I could just imagine how these buildings will soon be so desirable for those in power. In Dealing In Dreams, the towers are the only structure that survived the Big Shake, a man-made disaster caused by drilling. The Mega Towers is where the elite live and it’s where Nalah believes she can secure a home for her crew if she plays by this society’s rules. There are a couple of hints that Mega City is the Bronx but only a person from there would discover those Easter eggs.

The book is being described as a feminist Latinx dystopia and The Outsiders meets Mad Max so suffice it to say it’s a fierce book, how would you describe it to someone who is unfamiliar with the genre? 

I would describe Dealing In Dreams as a young adult book about a girl who grew up in a violent world and must decide if that path is truly her only salvation to a better life.

There is a very clear Latinx influence in the city and characters, why was that important to you?

@lilliamr / Instagram

I grew up reading so many science fiction and fantasy novels (Ray Bradbury, George Orwell…) and didn’t see any of my people in them. Where were the Puerto Rican girls from the Bronx crushing monsters? The same holds true of current films. I love Star Wars and have watched it hundreds of times but how amazing is it that my kids get to see Oscar Isaac being a part of the Star Wars canon? The future I envision in my novels is very brown and very black, just like my upbringing. I want to write Latinx characters that are flawed and heroic, who fall in love and discover their voice.

This is your second time writing a teenage Latinx protagonist, why is it important to you to tell these stories through the lens of a Latina?

These are the type of stories I craved for when I was young, desperately trying to connect with protagonists in novels. I think there’s more than enough room in bookstores and libraries for different Latina stories.

You take toxic masculinity and flip it to women instead, what was your intent in doing this?

There’s this great image of activist Angela Peoples taken during the Women’s March. Angela holds up a sign that reads “Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump.” I thought of that image when I was rewriting the novel. I also kept thinking of how our own people will gladly throw us under the bus in order to secure a place beside someone in power. Sometimes our own family are quick to lead us to destruction. I wanted to explore those two realities in Dealing In Dreams.

What are some of the main concepts you wanted to tackle when you wrote this book and why?

I was thinking of books I’ve read that inspired me as a young person such as Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I was drawn to their violence and also to the idea of formed families. I wanted to explore this idea of blood family versus the family you create but I wanted to come from the point of view of a Latina.

The idea of finding a better home is a concept that’s all too real for many Latinx in the US, was it a conscious decision to have Nalah’s journey mirror the immigrant experience in a sense?

@lilliamr / Instagram

The quest for home is so rooted in my family’s history. My parents left Puerto Rico to find a better home in New York. Each decision they made, however hard, was made with the intention of providing us with the tools to succeed. Almost everyone who wants to enter the United States come with that hope. There’s an amazing painting by the artist Judithe Hernández titled “La Muerte De Los Inocentes” and it is of a child who clutches a ribbon that states: “We come but to dream.” I feel that painting really captures Nalah’s journey and the journey of so many who come to the U.S. searching for a better life.

There’s a lot of action in this book, what was it like writing those scenes featuring all women?

I had the best time writing those scenes! I think it’s so rare to see young women owning their strength on the page and not being afraid to use it. I love that my characters are unapologetic about it. I also didn’t want to give the reader a chance to rest, to think of putting the book down, so I tried to inject as much action as I could.

What do you want readers to take away from Dealing in Dreams?

I want readers to be transported to a place that looks at times familiar and completely new. I want Nalah, Truck, Nena and the rest of Las Mal Criadas to leave an imprint on the readers long after they read the last page.

Read: YA Writer Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Debut Fantasy Book is a Feminist Story of Forbidden Love and Oppression

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