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“i never thought i’d make it here.” when felix stated that one sentence during his interview, i was floored. not because it was sad but rather because it is a truth about me that i didn’t know put into words or maybe was too afraid to say out loud. he held up a mirror to me and i was left transformed. thank you felix for being so damn wonderful and courageous. thank you for supporting this project. thank you for existing.

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on saturday, june 11th, we screened this short compilation of gran varones stories at the philadelphia latino film festival. our goal was to highlight the specific stories of varones living in philadelphia.

we then had planned on posting this edit the following day but all of our lives changed on june 12th. since then, we have worked hard to ensure that our stories are told and heard. our goal is to continue to create and post gran varones stories from all over the country. until then, check out our humble mini-doc.

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When you tell your story, you heal yourself and you heal others. As a story telling and legacy project, we not only believe this but this is the foundation of which we work from. Since the Pulse tragedy in Orlando, Florida, we have watched as the larger LGBTQ community and mainstream media erase the lives and stories of the Latinx and black queer people lost, many of whom were Latino gay men.

We were invited by the community to come to Orlando but need to raise $2,500 by July 18th to do what Gran Varones does best - document the lives and stories of Latino gay and queer men.

We know that erasure creates distance. We know that storytelling builds community and keeps memories alive. This is why we were invited to be in Orlando. Our model has always been to meet varones where they are. We will continue to honor that model and we will continue to provide a platform for Latino gay and queer men to be the narrators of our stories; our own legacy.

My best friend Anthony and I, both queer Latinos, in an effort to build the community that we had been longing for, created the Gran Varones Project in 2014. Through grassroots organizing we have been able to interview, photograph and share the stories of over 100 Latino gay and queer men. These stories have built bridges and created visibility. These stories that document our existence and challenge the notion that we are living in the shadows of shame.

We cannot do this without your support. We need $2,500 for travel and lodging, equipment, time off work and for the production of this project dedicated to Orlando and beyond.

A contribution of any amount ($5, $10, 20, 45, 100 or more) to help raise $2,500 will help us make sure the lives and stories of those no longer with us don’t vanish or are not told in their fullest.

We will keep all supporters updated on our journey to Orlando and back so you know what your contribution is helping make happen.

Gran Varones, while not a funded project, continues to be a project driven by the support of varones and allies who believe in our vision and community memebers who have so generously shared their stories and hearts with us.

Your support is greatly appriciated.


Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca

Creator of The Gran Varones

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julio mangual aka lady labelle is one of philadelphia’s most beloved afro-boricua drag queens. he has one of the first queens to organize drag shows in the heart of north philly - a world away from philly’s gayborhood - in the early 1990s. lady...

julio mangual aka lady labelle is one of philadelphia’s most beloved afro-boricua drag queens. he has one of the first queens to organize drag shows in the heart of north philly - a world away from philly’s gayborhood - in the early 1990s. lady labelle continues to break down barriers by performing in bars and clubs that my uncle, my bother and aunts go to. 

watch our latest gran varones profile video as julio aka lady label shares their story. 

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when we started to the gran varones project, we never imagined that the outcome would be a documentary film. in the winter of 2013, with a no money, a few iphones, a flip cam and a shoddy microphone, we began interviewing gay latino men from north philadelphia for a portrait photography project. our goal was to raise the voices of gay latino men in philadelphia telling our stories, the stories that often times get left out of the lgbtq narrative.

in just a few months, we quickly amassed about 20 hours of film. we knew we had to do something with the footage so we decided to download an editing program, and learned how to use it as we edited the footage. The final product is a 55 minute documentary of latino gay men courageously sharing their stories and experiences.

the “our legacy is alive” documentary is a reminder that we must tell our stories. the stonewall movie is a sobering truth that if we do not tell and share our stories, no one will. we hope that you are inspired by the film to share yours . we hope that this film serves as proof that our stories can heal and brief life in our communities right here, right now. our legacy is alive.

project coordinators:

louie a. ortiz-fonseca

anthony leon

sean laughlin

this film and project are dedicated to the courageous varones who have so generously shared their stories in effort to raise our voices.

special thanks: gloria casarez, brent morales, charlotte sahadeo, erika amiròn niz, nikki lopez, elicia gonzales, jaymie campbell, kira manser, samantha dato, raices culturales latinoamericanas, concilio taller puertorriqueño and everyone who has supported the making of this film and project.

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we first interviewed carlos last july. while i had known him for years, we seldom if ever really chatted. it wasn’t until he shared his story our friendship started. watching this reminds me just how amazing he is and the video doesn’t even cover all of his community work, his raising a child or his being an entrepreneur. this j.lo fan needs his own full documentary!

i am lucky to call him a friend. want to know why? watch this video!

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on this world AIDS day, we lift up and pay homage to the gran varones who have passed and we stand in loving solidarity with all the gran varones who continue to live & thrive.

check out a clip of ricardo’s story. he is one of the gran varones featured in the full length documentary. here he reminds us and the community that the truth can sting at first but then it heals.

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“I will not be made to feel less because I’m celebrating the victory of tonight’s Presidential announcement on immigration. While it’s true that millions of people are excluded from the announcement and don’t qualify, there are still millions that do. Millions of people who won’t have to live in fear every day of their lives. Celebrating doesn’t mean you’re giving a free pass, it means you are raising up those individuals who made this possible, the people who fought long and hard for this victory. If all you are able to say tonight is that this wasn’t enough and not everybody qualifies you are sending a slap in the face to all the amazing hard working communities who organized their assess off because guess what, they are celebrating tonight (as they should) and getting back to work and fighting for their brothers and sisters tomorrow morning. That’s what real organizing is all about .” Miguel

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