identities

For Pride, Latinxs Share Their Most Meaningful Coming Out Experiences

Religion, “traditional” mindsets, and language barriers have always complicated the ways in which younger generations of the Latinx community relate to the older ones that raised them. For Latinx who identify as queer, these factors typically heighten the obscurity of their own experiences particularly when it comes to opening up about their sexual identity. Still, unlike what TV would have you believe, not all coming out experiences for Latinxs are the same. Yes, many are emotional, some are even devastating and torrid, but plenty are just as equally empowering, heartening, even playful.

Over the weekend, we talked to seven Latinx at LA Pride who revealed that when it comes to coming out, Latinxs have stories as assorted as our cultura.

Naomi

Credit: Alex Portée. Naomi is to the far left.

“The funny thing is that even though my mom grew up in Peru in a really conservative environment [my mother] is super progressive and open-minded. I remember I called her and it wasn’t even a coming out thing I was literally just like ‘Mom, I’m getting a little panicked here. I just started hooking up with this girl from work.’ Literally just like that and she didn’t react any type of way except just to say “Mijita, you don’t get involved with people at work.’ To this day its never been a weird conversation [between us]. I haven’t come out to any of my other family members on my mom’s side of the family because I feel like they’re Catholic and I think that they might be a bit funny about it. I think they sort of know about it but I’ve never talked with them about it.” — Naomi

Liz Gomez & Veronica

Credit: Alex Portée. Liz Gomez to the left and her partner Veronica to the right.

“The first person I came out to was my father. Actually, it was for my daughter’s birthday party. I was 29, even though I knew since I was in high school. He actually said to me ‘Do you actually like women?’ and I was like ‘yes, I do.’ It was a very liberating moment. He was very accepting of it. (Haha, even though it was at my daughter’s birthday party.) It was an amazing experience and it pretty much set me free. It was a lot more easy to talk to my dad than to my mom. When you come from a Mexican family, old school, it’s a lot more difficult because your moms grow up in the mentality that you’re going to marry a man.” — Liz

“So I was like 15 when I came out. I was in high school. I didn’t really tell my mom or anyone in my family and one day, finally, I was like ‘okay I gotta come out and I gotta tell my family.’  I was like ‘um I’m gay,’ and they were like ‘we know.’ I was like ‘how the hell do you know?’ They were like ‘we’ve known since you were little.’ I was kind of mad, I said ‘why didn’t you tell me?’ I could have avoided all of those weird awkward moments with those guys. But I needed to experience that on my own.” — Veronica

Dominique

Credit: Alex Portée

“My best coming out experience was probably to my grandma because she was the last person I thought who would accept it and she did. I thought she was actually going to hate me a hundred percent but she was like ‘No, I love it just be you.’ She raised me and so I was very nervous because she’s someone who is very old school and very traditional, which is in part because of her Hispanic culture. It was terrifying but great.” — Dominique

Cylvia

Credit: Alex Portée. Cylvia Rodriguez

“When I came out to my mom. I was a little scared about the idea. I wasn’t sure how she would take it. We’re Salvadorian so [the culture] tends to be old school in some ways but when I came out to her she just held my hand and said, ‘We still love you. Your dad and I will always love you it doesn’t matter, you’re still our daughter, you’re still you.’ Feeling accepted, that was the most meaningful. I love my parents, I love my family. — Cylvia Rodriguez

Lena

Credit: Alex Portée. Lena Kinney

“My best experience was actually helping my friend come out to his parents. They’re from Trinidad so you know it’s a little bit more intense over there as far as judgment. I really just made sure that we explained in a very calm and honest way and it went really well. It was just so nice to be that support for him when he needed it. — Lena Kinney

Ava Nicole

Credit: Alex Portée. AvaNicole Marie

“For me, my coming out experience [started with] having family members tell my parents for me but I think one of the best parts was actually telling them. I did tell both of them myself eventually. The best part was that they both told me the same thing, they told me they loved me and that I was their child and it didn’t matter who I was that they were going to love me regardless because I am their child. I think that was really freeing and it helped me to really become who I am as a person on my own.” — Ava Nicole


Read: 6 Amazing LGBTQ+ Latinas Battling Stereotypes and Barriers

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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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