Jennifer Lopez Writes A Letter To Her Late Gay Aunt For Pride Month And It’s Incredibly Touching

As part of Pride month, Billboard kicked off their “30 days of Pride celebration” campaign where they asked inspirational figures to write a love letter dedicated to the LGBTQ community.

Check out the loving and empowering words these talented Latinos wrote…

In celebration of Pride month, Billboard asked influential figures to write love letters dedicated to the LGBTQ community, and here is what a few of them had to say:

While touching on her own personal life, J.Lo talks about the pride she takes in being able to witness the growth of LGBTQ representation in TV and film. Here is her love letter:

When I was growing up in the Bronx, I always thought my aunt Myrza was the coolest. She lived in NYC and wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be just like her. What I didn’t realize was that she was struggling with being gay. At that time, families didn’t sit around a dinner table and talk about tolerance and acceptance. Life was different and it is heartbreaking for me to think about it now. The people she watched on TV didn’t represent her. Movies didn’t represent her. She thought she was alone.

That is why I’m proud of “The Fosters,” a show celebrating its 100th episode. A show that holds a mirror to society and shines a light on what love looks like. It doesn’t matter your race or sexual orientation. Love is love.

Myzra isn’t with us anymore, but I like to think she is proudly looking down on me from above — the way I always looked up to her.

The inspiration for Selena Gomez’s letter came from her own childhood.

Selena Gomez says she’s happy about the progress that has been made, but she also knows that there’s a long way to go before the LGBTQ community reaches full acceptance and equality.

I remember as a young child going to brunch on Sundays with my mom and her group of friends. I had no idea they were all gay as I didn’t even comprehend what that meant at the time. All I knew is that I loved being surrounded by these kind, fun and loving friends my mother had around her. I definitely give credit to her for raising me in an environment that was incredibly open-minded and non-judgmental. She also surprised me at my 16th birthday party with a performance by the most beautiful drag queen singing my favorite song. I don’t think most 16 year olds can say that!

My co-writer Justin Tranter couldn’t believe I had never seen the Madonna documentary “Truth or Dare” and so while we were in Mexico he sat me down to watch it with him. I loved it and was especially struck by how groundbreaking it was for the gay rights movement and how far LGBTQ rights have come in my lifetime. There is still a significant amount of work to do and I look forward to the day when a person is never judged, discriminated or feared for their sexuality.

Gloria Trevi reminds people that the LGBTQ community, while often discriminated against, play just as an important role in our society as anyone else.

Gloria Trevi points that those who get caught up in hate and discrimination, forget how beautiful the LGBTQ community is. Here is her love letter in defense of anyone who has ever been discriminated:

I’ve fought so hard to try to be different, only to prove that deep down we’re all the same. Since I was a little girl, it always affected me to see that discrimination existed. This is perhaps one of the worst human qualities and most of the times, an excuse for war.

I identify myself with the LGBTQ community because we suffer preconceptions, calumnies and rejections from a group of people that are more than “full of virtues,” scared, inexperienced and hypocrites trying to point fingers while avoiding that fingers be pointed at them.

Just like Jewish people, people of color, women, indigenous people, Christians, etc., have in one point of their life been persecuted and assassinated by the “normal” or “superior” ones, the LGBTQ community is also full of artists, incredible intellectuals, scientists, doctors, but, most importantly, they are children, brothers and friends who belong to a solid family and make this a better and more beautiful world.

I also identify with their unique struggle because they say I rose from my ashes … and yes, today, EVERYONE LOOKS AT ME, and I say that the LGBTQ community helped me rise and at the end, EVERYONE WILL LOVE US.

Lauren Jauregui admits that she has experienced a lot of fear and pain, but the tone of her love letter focuses on hope and healing. 

Despite the sad truth that Lauren Jauregui touches upon, here is her message about what she hopes for the future:

I think one of the most defining moments of learning to find true self-acceptance was when I put it into a piece I wrote for Billboard those months ago. The Trump Campaign was really my breaking point as a bisexual Cuban female artist. I incorporated those four particular adjectives because they were all parts of me that I felt were being stripped away, questioned, threatened, and even invalidated by the continuous slew of ignorant conversation that his administration has been allowed to push.

The way in which his campaign was run scared me. His obvious misogyny, his homophobia, his dismissal of the arts, and his incessant ideology pushing of minority communities as terrorists, rapists, and criminals truly made me feel terrified for my future and the future of the children growing up in this world right now. It made me wonder if people really felt this way; and when he won, it truly broke my heart. It made me come to terms with the fact that the part of me that loved women was invalidated and that she was an important part of my story and who I was. Accepting her in one sentence within the context of a whole political commentary being what caught the world’s attention made me realize how scandalous it still is as a concept for humans to connect with their souls.

The fascination humanity has with sex and who’s engaging in it and what other people do when they engage in it amazes me. We spend so much time chastising what other people do in the darkness of their bedrooms that we forget that love is a part of our souls and it can be felt on a grand spectrum of truth. Anyone can love anyone and we should all be loving each other, not looking for reasons to segregate and invalidate one another.

When I set out on my goal to help fix this mess whatever way I could five years ago through art, I couldn’t have ever imagined my journey would pan out the way it has, but I’m grateful for every moment and am proud to be who I am. I am even more grateful to live in a generation where there seems to truly be an awakening to the understanding of love and how much it can heal us all, especially in the youth. I know I’ve helped my fans in my own way to come to terms with themselves, love themselves and each other and that’s truly where this whole healing process starts for me.

Christina Aguilera dedicates her letter to her fans as well, but shares one particularly beautiful story…

Even though Christina Aguilera knows that there are so many fans who look up to her, she feels the opposite. She’s the one who looks up to her fans and this is why:

As we embark on pride month I wanted to reach out and put into words just how much the LGBTQ community means to me both as an artist and also as a human being. What I envisioned being a simple letter to write is actually much harder than I expected mainly because I keep asking myself, “how can I put into words the immense gratitude that fills my heart?” I just can’t. And this community, this family of exceptional human beings mean so much to me I feel so much pressure to articulate my love for you all, yet here goes.

Starting out in my career there was a lot of uncertainty for me as to who I was and where I fit in. So many labels and so many of societies rules telling me how I should be and what I should be. Yet even in my earliest years when I wanted to scream and jump out of my own skin for not fitting the perfect pop star mold there was a small group of friends that stood by me and still do today. My own little gay inner circle filled with dancers, choreographers and glam folks that to this day remain my best friends in the world.

As my career moved forward and I began making music that spoke to my pain and struggles there were fans that came out to me with stories that literally lifted me up. Those were all my LGBTQ fans that through thick and thin stand with me daily. My fighters, my heroes, the reason I love what I do.

The LGBTQ community has never had it easy, the struggles each one of you faces daily on an individual level and on a broader political and cultural level are unimaginable, yet you keep fighting, you keep moving forward trailblazing and beating all odds with love always in your hearts.

I remember meeting a fan who had just gotten a tattoo of my face near a scar he had. When I asked him why he got the tattoo he told me a story about how he got stabbed because he was sticking up for himself when someone was bulling him about being gay. That because of me, and my music, he was able to be a fighter and to take a stand – he did get stabbed but he survived and the tattoo was a daily reminder that while people can try to break us we will not fall, we will not stand down and we will not be afraid to stand up for what we deserve.

In this month of June and every other day of the year please know that to me you all represent the daily driving voice that tells me to keep going, to triumph against all odds and to celebrate being unique. Because being unique doesn’t make us different from anyone else – it just makes us more special.

With love, with respect, with passion, with commitment, with gratitude and admiration I say to all you fighters – I love you.

As someone who has played the lead role of a Latina lesbian in a mainstream TV series, Naya Rivera is grateful for that opportunity.

There is no better feeling than representing the LGBTQ community in the world of entertainment, and this is why it means so much to Naya:

I have been so incredibly fortunate to portray a character on television that has meant so much to so many within the LGBTQ community. Off screen, I am a woman who stands in support of equality, and equal rights for all. It has been one of the great blessings in my life to receive such love and touching stories as a result of my portrayal of Santana Lopez on “Glee.”

We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life.

More than just a love letter, Stephanie Beatriz writes a thank you letter for the LGBTQ community because they taught her how to love herself.

So many times it’s the fans who are writing letters to their celebrity idols, but this time Stephanie Beatriz wants to do the opposite. Here is her love letter:

To the LGBTQ Community,

I love you.

I love you for being so open, so funny, so honest, courageous, and accepting. I love you for how damn strong you are.

It was all of you who paved the way for me to reach for the truth inside myself and listen to voice in my heart that wanted me to live a full and open life. It was through your sacrifices and stories that I found my own bravery. You are so much of why I am finding my truest, most authentic self.

I love you for the deep joy and beauty that runs in your blood, in your bones, in your souls. It is that joy and beauty and HUMANNESS that makes me so deeply more and more in love with you every single day. My favorite quote about love belongs here, because I just don’t have the words to tell you how much love i have for you as well as Shakespeare can.

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.

To read the complete series of love letters head over to Billboard.

READ: This Mexican-American’s Tweet Went Viral For Repping Their Culture And Non-Binary Gender Expression

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

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

Bullying and discrimination can make school feel impossible for transgender students. In Chile, many queer youth stop attending class to avoid intimidation, often falling behind or even dropping out. Amaranta Gomez School, an institution for transgender students in Santiago, Chile, is trying to change that.

Founded by the Selenna Foundation, an organization in the South American country protecting trans rights, in 2017, the school offers youth between the ages of six and 17 courses on math, science, history and English as well as workshops on art and photography. About 22 students attend the school, with an additional six expected to join soon. They are assigned to one of two classrooms based on their age.

“I’m happy here because there are many other kids just like me,” Alexis, a 6-year-old student who was bullied at his previous school, told the Associated Press.

A 2016 report by UNESCO said that in Latin America, school violence against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity harms “the development of the affected people, school coexistence, academic performance and, consequently, their permanence in school.”

Teachers at Amaranta Gomez, which was named after muxe activist and anthropologist Amanranta Gónez Regalado, work pro bono. In its first year, all school expenses were paid the Selenna Foundation’s president Evelyn Silva’s and the institution’s coordinator Ximena Maturana’s personal savings.

Starting in March, families will have to pay about $7 a month for their child to attend.

“We try to reduce the costs to the minimum (for families) so that they don’t say that (kids) are not attending because they don’t have pencils, and it becomes a reason to leave school,” Silva said.

Even with limited funds, the foundation has created a summer school program that offers dance and additional workshops to about 20 children, including some who do not attend Amaranta Gomez.

The school, the first of its kind in Latin America, is creating a safe space where children can learn, feel affirmed and have community.

“I feel free and happy here,” said Felipe, 15. “The environment is very good. Everyone who arrives is simply accepted.”

Read: Latinx Kindergarten Teacher Pens Bilingual Children’s Book To Teach Youth About Gender-Neutral Pronouns

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Autopsy Report Shows Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez Was Physically Abused During ICE Detention Before She Died

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Autopsy Report Shows Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez Was Physically Abused During ICE Detention Before She Died

The news is currently filled with images and stories of the current migrant refugee caravan that is Tijuana, but another migration took place earlier this year, which gives an important look at the consequences of not providing humanitarian aid to those seeking asylum.  Earlier this year we reported on the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a 33-year-old Honduran trans woman, who was seeking asylum with a caravan traveling to the U.S.

The caravan had been traveling since April, by foot, from Central America to the U.S. border. In May, Rodriguez — also known as Roxana Hernandez — was captured by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and died about two weeks after being detained. At the time ICE released a statement saying that Rodriguez died from symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration, and complications associated with HIV. But now we know Rodriguez experienced much more than just symptoms from an illness.

A newly released autopsy report revealed  Rodriguez had been beaten inside a detention unit for transgender women.

Rodriguez died on May 25 at the Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque but had been detained on May 13 and held at the the transgender unit at Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico. According to the Daily Beast, it’s unclear when the abuse took place because Rodriguez was transferred to a local hospital just one day after being detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center. She remained in intensive care until she died.

Forensic pathologist Kris Sperry released a report that said Rodriguez had visible marks on her body that showed she had been abused including “deep bruising on her rib cage and deep contusions on her back, which were ‘indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with a blunt object,'” the Washington Post reports. Sperry’s findings comes from the second autopsy conducted on Rodriguez.

“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernández Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill,” Sperry wrote. Sperry also concluded that Hernandez had “thin bruises” on her back and sides, and “extensive hemorrhaging” on both her wrists. He said these markings are “typical of handcuff injuries.”

The Transgender Law Center has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her family.

When Rodriguez first began walking with the caravan earlier this year, she said that she was fleeing because of violence she faced in her home country along with discrimination as a transgender woman.

Her reasoning is much like the LGBT group that is also seeking asylum but remain in Tijuana.

READ: LGBTQ Refugee Group Separates From Caravan And Are First To Arrive At the U.S./Mexico Border

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