When 42-year-old Ruby Corado was 16, her parents had her immigrate to the United States from El Salvador to escape the civil war. She says that when she arrived in Washington D.C. in 1986, she noticed that there were very few resources for Latinos in the area, and none for LGBT Latinos.
When Corado was 20 years old, her commitment to social justice began to develop. While she was working in real estate management, she decided she needed to give back and began volunteering at a hospice– an experience that deeply changed her. “I saw that the nuns that were there didn’t have any shoes and they were looking to help these people. They would hug them and they would kiss them and would give them so much love,” Corado says. “And this was a point in my life when I’m trying to make it in society, I’m trying to pretty much achieve the American dream, and here I am very young, 20 years old, and I see that these women were really giving.”
When Corado began living in DuPont Circle, the gay neighborhood in Washington D.C., she began meeting many LGBT Latinos that also needed support. Corado would welcome LGBT Latinos in need into her home. Many of them were immigrants. It was through these experiences that she and other members of her community began to build a sense of family. “I kept seeing some of these kids– they were rejected by their family, they were having a hard time in school. I was like a big sister to them,” Corado says. “I just didn’t understand why people would be so mean. I didn’t understand why they would reject their kids. I realized that I could be there for them,” she says.