February 8, 2013

Growing up in a working-class community around East L.A. after arriving from Mexico, I was always surrounded by Latinas and Latinos. Yet I always felt a little different. I wasn’t sure what caused that difference—perhaps it was my lisp or the fact that I would rather be reading than playing flag football. It wasn’t until I began to explore my sexuality that I realized that these feelings of difference stemmed from my queerness.

As an undergraduate at UCLA, I focused my energies on discovering myself—a queer Chicano immigrant. And although I later began to meet more Latinas and Latinos like myself, I always felt that there was an absence of LGBT Latino leadership.

This deficit thinking, however, began to vanish as I started unpacking the missing history of LGBT Latino activism. I soon realized that it wasn’t so much a lack of leadership, but rather that the narrative of LGBT activism was constructed in a way that purposely ignored people who looked like me.

Luis Román, Uniting America Fellow at Lambda Legal, speaks about the importance of Creating Change's first-ever Latino Institute. GLAAD is a proud community partner of the Unión=Fuerza Latino Institute, you can read more about it here.