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a reminder for cis-varones


happy pride! go out and fag the hell out! be queer as fuck! disrupt the narrative that we must hide and be ashamed of our of existence! be loud and be proud! 

bbbbuuuuttttttttt, here are a few reminders for today:

the stonewall riots were the single most important event that inspired the LGBTQ community to rise up against police violence and homophobia. if there were no stonewall riots, which were led by queer and trans people of color including most notably marsha p. johnson and sylvia rivera, THERE WOULD NO PRIDE PARADES. 

stonewall was a riot! remember this whenever you witness protests by black and brown trans and queers folks. remember this before you curb your mouth to say “this is pride, this is not the place for protests!” 

pride is a celebration that exists because of protesting and rioting. here are three things that “protesting” has provided us cis-queer and gay men.

1. because of the stonewall protest, WHICH WAS A POLICE RIOT and led by black and brown trans women, we can dance and drink in a club without worrying about a police raid.

2. because queers yelled, screamed and protested the closing of bathhouses, we can suck dick at the baths.

3. many of us are ALIVE because queers challenged THE MUTHA FUCKIN’ GOVERNMENT AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES for basic HIV treatment!


so the next time we are twerking our asses off in the club, remember that protests provided us this privilege.

the next time any of us are sucking dick at the bathhouse, remember that protests provided us that privilege.

the next time we and/or our friends, family, or partner are taking LIFE-SAVING HIV MEDS, remember that protests provided ALL OF US this privilege.

so before any of us go damning, judging and condemning those who protest against systematic oppression, we need to come out of our ivory towers and into the streets in honor of; trans women, fags, queers, dykes, gays, drag queens, freaks and everyone who protested so that so you could shake our asses at pride. MANY OF THEM WHO PUT THEIR BODIES ON THE LINE DIDN’T EVEN LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO ENJOY THE PRIVILEGES WE TAKE FOR GRANTED.

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an elder once told me, “whenever your heart gets broken - feel the pain, feel the ache and then get the art out of it.” i was just 18 years old when he was sharing this gift with me. i remember loving the dramatic overtone of the comment more than i thought i understood it. it wasn’t until 20 years later while i was standing in my mother’s hospital room, on father’s day, that i fully understood the gravity of what was told me.

in early june of 2015, i was agonizing over a job offer that required me to move to washington, dc from philadelphia. i was petrified because 1: i had never lived in any city other than philadelphia; 2: i would have had to leave everything i worked so hard for in philly; and 3: i was afraid that i would fail. i must have called everyone under the sun to pick their brain. i had built a strong case as to why i should go and an even stronger case as to why i should stay. i still could not make a decision.

i called an old friend who knows all of the wonderful and not so wonderful things about me. he is also one of the most honest people in my life. i presented him with both of my cases. he didn’t reply as first but after a minute or so, he responded with “you gotta go. you gotta take it. you will be fantastic in dc and even if you fail, all the things you will learn inside of that failure, will be good too.” now it was me that was silent. he must have sensed my fear because he then said, “we won’t turn out like our mothers. that time has passed. the cycles we have been trying to break are broken. know that. you will be ok.” he then added, “and gurl, we already the most successful heauxs in our family so we good.” i laughed, he laughed but i promise you, we were serious.

it was in that conversation that i knew that i would be moving to dc. it was in that conversation that i found a way to let myself off of the hook. i have broken the cycle that has plagued my family. i had just been too busy running from my past, my pain and trauma to really enjoy it. i was ready to embark on this adventure.

a few weeks later,  my younger brother called to tell me that our my mother did not have much time and i needed to come immediately. “she wants to see you,” he said. i booked my flight to polk county, florida and by coincidence, it was father’s day weekend. admittedly, i did not want to make this trip. what gave me the most anxiety was knowing that i would have to be in a room with family that i had yet to completely forgive. my mind, body and heart still remember the abuse and neglect. while i have written poems and stories that have helped to move in a different spot of that pain, it is still there. in fact, i was so anxious that i made my younger brother promise not to “leak” the information that i was coming to florida. i also made him promise that he would not let people make me feel unsafe or try to take photos with me. god bless his heart because that boy did just that.

family did try to take photos with me. i politely declined. i was questioned as to why i was able to take photos of people but no one could take photos of me. i replied “because this request was in my rider. talk to my management about negotiating changes for my next trip here.” they laughed. i laughed but i promise you, i was serious.
sitting in the hospital room watching my mother go in and out of consciousness, i watched her grandchildren play. i watched her children laugh. i watched their wives and girlfriends make small talk about parenting and doing hair. i endured my sister begging me to take a pic. i compromised and gave her my phone number and said that i would text a pic of me that has been already been filtered for posting. she laughed. i laughed but i promise you, i was serious.

back to the hospital room and it’s being full of people. i was harkened back to my childhood. our house was always full of people. it was always full of people the world did not want. in the 80’s, our house was always full drag queens, transgender women and a few of the gay teens from the neighborhood. in the 90’s, our house was full of her friends who did not always have consistent housing. i hated it! there never seemed to be space or silence. while my mother did make sure that i had my own room, in a house with just two rooms, i felt like 6 brothers was enough. i thought “why did we have to have other people stay with us?” i resented it. so much so, that even now my closest friends have only been in my house a handful of times. this is because i have grown so guarded when it comes to my space. but here i was, in a hospital room, full of people that even “woke” spaces do not welcome. this time i didn’t resent it. i was instead filled a humble pride, immense joy and gratitude that my mother, even in her last days, was surrounded by people who were returning the love that she had provided them. “y’all muthafuggas ain’t going home?” they laughed, i laughed but i promise you, i was not serious.

on monday, june 22, 2015, after surviving poverty, crack addiction and the loss of a son, my mother, rosa m. ortiz-fonseca, took her last breath. with no fuckin’ resources, she raised 7 boys on her own. she housed people who had no place to go. she fed the entire block when she cooked and if you fucked with any of her kids, she would beat every ass on the block. my mother was a warrior. she was a giant. this is the spirit that lives in me.

i accepted the job  and moved to dc a few weeks after my mother’s death. i am still learning to get used to my new life  in dc. i am still learning to live in a world without my mother. even two years after my mom’s death, i am still learning to be – period.

an elder once told me, “whenever your heart gets broken - feel the pain, feel the ache and then get the art out of it.” it was the art that kept me present and provided me a foundation to stand on whenever i felt my legs would give way at any moment. the art saved me and i got to share it with my mother – until the end. here, i share these pictures with you.

- louie a. ortiz-fonseca


my mother being provide pain management medication


my two brothers and their two friends


family and friends in my mother’s hospital room


my brother tony. he is the brother mentioned in the story.


my brother alfredo with his son


nurse prepping to medicate my mother


i fed my mother her last meal. it was chicken noodle soup.


note written for my mother by her grand children.

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Louie: Where did you grow?
Armando: Whenever people ask me where I grew up, I always say this verbatim: “I grew up in Naples, Florida, a white retirement heaven. There’s literally a golf course on every corner.” Naples, like much of southwest...

Louie: Where did you grow?

Armando: Whenever people ask me where I grew up, I always say this verbatim: “I grew up in Naples, Florida, a white retirement heaven. There’s literally a golf course on every corner.” Naples, like much of southwest Florida, was a pretty affluent town where brown and black peoples provided cheap labor for benevolent rich white folk.  Yes, there were also poor whites who lived next to poor people of color. They were next to us, but rarely with us.

I grew up in the U.S. and in Mexico, moving back and forth between both countries until I was seven years old. As a kid I lived in Houston, Texas, in a rancho near Yuriria, Guanajuato, and in Naples, FL, where my family settled in 1993. Yes, there are Mexicans in Florida, it’s not just Cubans and Puerto Ricans – I have to say this because it confuses people that I am Mexican but not from Cali or Texas.

Now, as an old (maybe wiser?) 31-year-old, I cannot think of Naples without thinking about how racist and segregated the city is, about how difficult it was for my family and others like us to make a living. About the camouflage trucks with the confederate flags, about the time a white guy at the flea market said “These damn wetbacks” when he saw my dad and I walk past his store, and all my dad could do was hold my hand and shake his head “no” when I turned to look at the guy. That is how I grew up in Naples.

Louie: What is your first memory you have of knowing you were gay/queer?

Armando: I remember watching telenovelas and being enamored with both the female leads and the hot muscular male actors. I started watching more gay porn than straight porn, but I never told anyone that I watched porn at all, let alone that I liked to see dick on screen. I never told anyone those things. It wasn’t because I thought there was anything wrong with finding both men and women attractive, or that it was wrong to masturbate to men having sex with both men and women. I didn’t tell anyone because the world around me said that sex was wrong (thank you Catholicism!), and that men identifying in any way with women were despicable. Ironically, I never identified with the women or the men in porn, or the tops or bottoms for that matter. I identified with the act of sex, period, but since I was told that sex was wrong, it also meant that sexual pleasure itself was also wrong. My family taught me that lesson.

If you were to ask me when I first verbalized to myself that I was attracted to other men, I would say that happened in college. The summer after my junior year I spent a lot of time with a boy friend of mine that I felt particularly and affectionately attached to. I wasn’t at all sexually aroused by him, but I would feel “at home” with him whenever we hung out, geeked out over our research, or talked about what we wanted to do in graduate school. It was a nerdy kind of love that had less to do with sexual organs and more to do with heart and emotional intimacy. I was also in love with a woman at the time, and although I loved her like I did him, my attachment to him was different. I didn’t think of myself as “gay” or “queer” then, either, but I knew that what I felt for him was different than what I had felt before.

“Gay” and “queer” were words that others had always used to describe me in order to hurt me. In college, gay and queer men of color were no different, they too aimed these words toward me to violently force me out of a closet I never knew I was in. To them, like to my family, I was in the closet. To me, I simply existed in a world that attempts to regularize sexuality as either/or, straight or gay, abominable or pleasurable, when all I wanted was to simply exist.

Louie: It’s been a year since Pulse, what do you think the impact has been on Latinx queer communities?

Armando: This is perhaps the hardest question to answer, Louie. I am and I am not part of a Latinx queer community. The truth is that I live in Pittsburgh, where I am not part of a community like that. I know there are queer Latinxs in the city. I know of them. There are a few of us, but my everyday life is not anchored in a queer of color space or community here. I am part a network of queer Latinx academics, and I can speak to how vocal we have all been about Pulse and queer Latinx lives in the aftermath of the massacre. I think that a queer Latinx presence has grown significantly on social media and it is vocally active in affecting change in light of Pulse. The same goes for queer Latinx academics. Our work, our lives are very much desiring to change the invisibility and social reality of communities of color, especially queer and trans Latinx lives.

I recently went back on Grindr. As a platform, I think this app can sometimes bring out the worst in us, myself included, and we can become complicit in the very systems that oppress us. A few months ago I chatted with this guy on the app. A brown-skinned Mexicano from Orlando. He had a gorgeous face and body – I’m talking six pack, bubble butt, nice dick, beautiful tattoos. But, as my girlfriend put it, “it was prettier when it didn’t talk.” As we start planning to meet, he tells me that people in Pittsburgh were not attractive, that Pittsburgh people are obese. About guys on Grindr he says, “que feos, hay muchos negros y gordos.” To him, black men and men without six-packs are naturally ugly, fat, and inferior. I said nothing. He must’ve sensed he messed up because he followed up with “hehe eso suena racista.” All I could muster up in response was “Yes, very.” Not to mention fat-phobic. Not to mention that here is a person, an immigrant (he was originally from the Mexican state of Michoacán), a queer of color living in Orlando – the site of one of the largest massacres of queer people in this country’s history – living his life as if Pulse and the lives lost there meant nothing. That “we” have learned nothing. Like many others, his imaginary of the world is still shaped by a brand of whiteness dictating that only light-skinned bodies with six-pack abs and bubble butts are worthy of desire, that only those bodies are worthy of being desirable. Even he, as physically beautiful as he thinks he is, cannot fit on that scale of beauty. He isn’t white. Neither am I. But he thinks his physical perfection outweighs the color of his skin, and that his beauty puts him far away from the queers of color whose bodies were destroyed at Pulse. I wish I could say that things for Latinx queer communities had gotten better after the massacre, but for some of us, things are far from getting better. Some lives are still worth more than others.

Armando García, Pittsburgh, PA

Interviewed and Photographed by: Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca

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Can we talk about how the killer cop, Jeronimo Yanez, is Mexican-American? While not white, this terrible example of pathological anti-blackness demonstrates to us that white supremacy can use non-black people of color to uphold its systems of...

Can we talk about how the killer cop, Jeronimo Yanez, is Mexican-American? While not white, this terrible example of pathological anti-blackness demonstrates to us that white supremacy can use non-black people of color to uphold its systems of oppression. I know for certain that my fellow Mexicans can personally attest to the abundance of anti-blackness that exists in our communities. Jeronimo murdered Philando and I’ve not heard any of my woke Latinx or Mexican friends say a peep. He’s a monster, right? He’s also your brother, uncle and cousin. Y'all, this is where the ally work matters.

Jeronimo, a brown man, was acquitted not because of his innocence, but because the 10 white jurors were able to identify with his light-skinned Latinx version of anti-blackness–and established an intersectional kinship built on hatred for black people.

While not always wielding a gun, members of our community routinely express and enact anti-blackness. This happens through words and actual violence. Philando’s case may be extreme but it is not unusual. As Latinx folks who often benefit from a hierarchy of racism, we must be vigilant and dutiful in confronting anti-blackness in others and ourselves. As allies for black liberation, the onus is on us to do coalition work and be willing to sacrifice privilege and relationships in pursuit of the struggle. As a queer Chicano, I don’t take responsibility for the existence of white supremacy but I certainly admit that I can do more to confront anti-blackness around me and within myself.

As Philando’s girlfriend Diamond stated: “He was pulled over because, per officer Yanez, he had a wide nose and looked like a suspect.” “God help America,” she continued. Yes, God help America but also let us Latinx folks help each other confront and act on the problem. This time, the problem is ours.

- Miguel Garcia

Miguel Garcia is a native Detroiter and Chicano queer mental and sexual health advocate. He currently works for a community health agency based in Detroit and is completing his degree in Boston.

spansh translation: 

¿Podemos hablar de cómo el policia asesino, Jerónimo Yáñez, es mexicano-americano? Aunque no sea blanco, este terrible ejemplo de anti-negritud patológica nos demuestra que la supremacía blanca puede utilizar a las ‘personas de color’ que no son negras para defender sus sistemas de opresión. Sé con certeza que mis compatriotas mexicanos pueden atestiguar personalmente la abundancia de anti-negritud que existe en nuestras comunidades. Jerónimo asesinó a Philando y no he oído nada de mis compañeros Latinx o amigos mexicanos que son consientes de estas estructura sociales o “woke” decir ni un pío. Es un monstruo, ¿verdad? También es tu hermano, tío y primo.
Compañeros, aquí es donde el trabajo del aliado importa.

Jerónimo, una persona de color no negra, fue absuelto no por su inocencia,
sino porque los 10 jurados blancos pudieron identificarse con su versión de anti-negritud al nivel que existe entre Latinx de tonos de piel claras—y estableció un parentesco interseccional construido sobre el odio hacia los negros.

Aunque no siempre manejan un arma, los miembros de nuestra comunidades Latinx rutinariamente expresan y promulgan anti-negritud. Esto sucede a través de las palabras y la violencia. El caso de Philando puede ser extremo pero no es inusual. Como personas de Latinx que se benefician de una jerarquía del racismo, debemos ser vigilantes y obedientes para enfrentar la anti-negritud en los demás y en nosotros mismos. Como aliados para la liberación negra, nos incumbe la tarea de hacer el trabajo de la coalición y estar dispuestos a sacrificar el privilegio y las relaciones en la búsqueda de la lucha. Como un chicano queer, no me responsabilizo de la existencia de la supremacía blanca, pero ciertamente admito que puedo hacer más para enfrentar la anti-negritud alrededor de mí y dentro de mí.

Como dijo Diamond, la novia de Philando, “Lo detuvieron porque, según oficial Yáñez, tenía una nariz ancha y se parecía a un sospechoso.” “Dios ayude a América”, continuó.
Sí, Dios ayude a América, pero también permite ayudarnos a nosotros Latinx a enfrentar y actuar en este problema. Esta vez, el problema es nuestro.

- Miguel Garcia

Miguel García es un nativo de Detriot y partidario de Chicano queer salud mental y sexual. Actualmente trabaja para una agencia de salud comunitaria basada en Detroit y está completando su licenciatura en Boston.

Translation by: Vanessa Velasquez

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Wait no, let me Scalp the foolish and Educate the Unaware:
Pink is for Sex, that which you use as an instrument to further objectify and fetishize People of Color. Oh but never forget the golden rule: No Fats, No Fems.
Red is for Life, that which is...

Wait no, let me Scalp the foolish and Educate the Unaware:

Pink is for Sex, that which you use as an instrument to further objectify and fetishize People of Color. Oh but never forget the golden rule: No Fats, No Fems.

Red is for Life, that which is taken from Trans Women of Color, 11 to have been reported as of today. And let’s not forget the erasure of 49 Victims of a massacre that was widely social climbed as a stunt for Gun Reformation from a Cis White Gay lens, while neglecting that a majority of those who died were LATINX. Can’t even say their names right in a fukin’ speech _._

Orange is for Healing, unless you’re a person of color, to which the reaction to trauma is either “Get over it” “All Lives Matter” or “We are Orlando” 🙄

Yellow is for Sunlight, except if you’re a Sex Worker, Fat, HIV Affected, not “Real” or “Passable”, etc. then you don’t get sunlight. You get to stay in the closet you’re forced to by your own community.

Green for Nature, because the Gender and Sex Binaries are so unnatural, but fuck what Trans/Queer/Non-Binary folks say, let’s just go ahead and focus on the same Science and Religion that was used to Oppress us all, ESPECIALLY people of color.

Blue is for Art, in the form of caucasity and mediocrity that washes and gentrifies our neighborhoods because we aren’t “edgy” enough compared to cis white standards, until you get validated by some hipster from Toronto with Blonde Dreadlocks dip-dyed to look like an Easter egg.

Indigo for Harmony, because we need to all stop trying to segregate one another and all just identify as Human. Because it is Humans that get killed by the police, Humans that are more often the victims of Hate Violence and Sexual Violence, Humans that are Slut-Shamed based off both the color of the skin and the Identity or Expression of their Gender or lack there of…

Violet for the Human Spirit, a Spirit that is a Reflection of the Oppressors that forced them into a closet in the first place, because all cisgender white folk care about is not being oppressed by their own “people”, but when People of Color ask for the same equal rights and social justice, it’s “Wait your Turn” politics or “Get over It”.

For all of those complaining about the black and brown stripe being included in Philly’s Rainbow Flag, THIS is why they put them there! THIS IS WHAT THEY STAND FOR. Not the joy of being Human, but the Erasure of People of Color from the Narrative!!! THE RAINBOW FLAG NEVER REPRESENTED US. IT WAS NOT DESIGNED WITH US IN MIND. ESPECIALLY QUEER/TRANS/NON-BINARY FOLK.

So shut the fuck up, and either get on the right side of aspiring allyship, or go over there with the wrong side of History. Y'all History. The history of Oppression. How does it feel boo? PS: Share this, but don’t @ me. You want anything else? PAY ME. I’m done teaching.

Written by: Raffy Regulus

Rafael “Raffy” Rios (Pronouns They/Them/Theirs) has served the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-Affected communities for almost 10 years. They have led youth programs throughout NYC in several organizations, and as a Health Educator and Youth Leader, they acquired knowledge in working with Queer/Trans Youth of Color. Currently, Raffy is a Counselor/Advocate for the New York City Anti-Violence Project, where they focus on supporting survivors of violence with counseling and advocacy through a trauma-informed lens. Through Raffy’s work at AVP, they liaison as a Trainer and Counselor/Advocate with the Brooklyn Family Justice Center; and a Co-Facilitator for a Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Youth Support Group at the Adolescent AIDS Program in the Bronx, referring youth to medical care and trans-related services. Raffy continues to engage with their community and focuses on building relationships that will bring visibility to LGBTQ youth in need of shelter, leadership development, and other supportive services.

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“Here’s my sexy Throwback Thursday picture from way back in the early 1970’s. I’m assuming I’m about 6 or 7 years old & taken on one of the many family picnics at the 7 lakes, this one being Lake Welch. Checkout that head of hair, my tone/smooth body...

“Here’s my sexy Throwback Thursday picture from way back in the early 1970’s. I’m assuming I’m about 6 or 7 years old & taken on one of the many family picnics at the 7 lakes, this one being Lake Welch. Checkout that head of hair, my tone/smooth body rocking the mood style 70’s square cut stripe Brazilian swimwear! I haven’t been that thin since & now look like a bald, hairy beast with a full figure like the guy behind my right shoulder! LMAO! 😂 Such great memories!” - Rusty Perez, New York, NY

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happy flag day, y'all!

so yesterday our twitter was lit. normally it’s just two of my friends ❤️ing and retweeting our shit but yesterday, the white gays were calling us all kinds of racists. of course, the day immediately after they cried and took up all kinds of space at vigils for the many black and latinx queer and trans folks lost in the pulse shooting.

normally, i never engage on twitter cuz it just ain’t my thang. mainly because i need more than 120 characters to let a fool have it. anywho, we got tweets about how the rainbow flag is not about race. we even had a few folks ask, “where is the white stripe!?” one of those folks was a latino dude who says he was asking about the white stripe because he is not “racist.” someone told him that working to ensure that white gays have a space everywhere - even on our twitter page - makes him “not racist.”

admittedly, i was not initially sold on the new flag. but chyle, but i saw how pissed and upset white gay men and hoteps were about the black and brown stripes - i was with it. i’m petty so anything that pisses yt gays and hoteps off, ima support. lol

here is the thing tho, redefining and owning queerness on our terms has always been a fight for black and brown folks ESPECIALLY for trans, gender non-conforming, gender non-binary folks. we have always had to face resistance every and anytime we wanted to carve out a space for ourselves. for some white cis-gay, our audacity to claim space on this earth is a direct affront to their commitment to dominate all spaces. 

the new flag aims to recognize black and brown folks that continue to be marginalized within the lgbtq community and pride movement. the new flag DOES NOT cure racism. but my question is, why are we ok with waving the original rainbow flag at corporate sponsored pride events that are largely organized by white cis-gay men where cis-het performances pander to our community for coins does but fall silent when black trans women are murdered? why are folks more vocal about the black and brown stripes than they are about the violence black and brown bodies are subjected to every damn day?

don’t like the flag cuz it’s not visually appealing to you? cool. don’t wave it then. but if you are offended and appalled by the purpose and representation of the black and brown stripes, then you need ask yourself a few questions about what inclusivity really means to you beyond words that are not followed by action.

if you hate the new pride flag but have remained silent about the confederate flag, then i invite you to ask yourself a few questions. if you have remained silent as the alt-right and current administration has used the american flag to intimidate non-white americans, then i invite you to really have an honest and intentional conversation with yourself about what inclusion really means to you. you may find that while you are not racist, you may be hella anti-black. we all have our work to do. being mad at black and brown stripes is not where you start. 

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Anthony: So where did you grow up?
Christopher: I am from South Florida, I grew up there. Then I moved to Orlando in 2010. I grew up in Naples, South Florida and Naples has historically always been a conservative town. It is where a lot of retirees...

Anthony: So where did you grow up?

Christopher: I am from South Florida, I grew up there. Then I moved to Orlando in 2010.  I grew up in Naples, South Florida and Naples has historically always been a conservative town. It is where a lot of retirees go and people that occupy that space make decisions on the behalf of people in the community, are very old-school in their way of thinking. Even like community of colors, they’re just like very, very old-school. So there wasn’t community for queer people and when I was graduating high school, I was thought I need to go somewhere and find people that are like me. And I started to research neighboring cities that really support queer people and Orlando was one of them. Miami was one too but I decided to come here because it is not as fast-paced. I mean, Miami is great but it’s a lot to take in especially when I was just trying to get a handle on who I was.

Anthony: So how do you like Orlando?

Christopher: I love Orlando, its home. I got to build a lot of really strong relationships with people here. My first steps in activism are rooted here. I came into my queer identity here and recently came into my Latinx identity as well.  

Anthony: How did you come into your Latinx identity?

Christopher: As I got older and as I experienced life, I recognized that I am more than just my queer identity. There are things about me that me that my white friends don’t have to go through because they have white privilege. And as much adversity they have to face with being queer and Trans, there’s another layer that people like us we have to deal and that is because of our Latinidad. So I had to do a lot of exploration and really understanding our history because growing up, I wasn’t taught that. And so being surrounded by other Latina, Latino, Latinx people, who were also queer, was just really inspiring, really powerful. Because it was like, “Wow, oh shit, you’re like uber queer or really Trans fem and you’re Latinx también.” That’s awesome. It’s like growing up with the people I grew up with but having a more deep-rooted connection with them beyond just Latinx. But also being able to chill, talk bullshit, and just be queer. So that’s kinda how I came into those two roles. And then more recently, with everything that’s been taking place here in Orlando, I think it’s really important that my Latinx identity really shine out and that I really push that forward more than I ever did before.

Anthony: How are folks beginning to heal?

Christopher: So it’s a struggle, it’s an ongoing struggle and it’s going to continue be a struggle until there is proper place for us to heal in community. But I know that in speaking with folks and telling them that we started this queer, Trans Latinx organization just to be in community with one another, a lot of them are like “That’s amazing because we have never had that before.” I hang out with my Puerto Rican friends and all the Mexicans are over there, and all the Hondurans live over here, and all the Ecuadorians live over here, and so we don’t interact. So to be able to create a group and a space for people from differently identities can come together and just meet each other and be with each other and heal with each other has been really well received.

Christopher J. Cuevas, Orlando, Florida

Follow and support @qlatinx

Interviewed by: Anthony Leon

Photographed by: Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca

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sanctuary is found on the dance floor. spirits are filled and pain is paused. last year’s attack at pulse night club in orlando, during latino night - was an attack on all of us who have ever feared loving openly in public.
today, we mourn the loss...

sanctuary is found on the dance floor. spirits are filled and pain is paused. last year’s attack at pulse night club in orlando, during latino night - was an attack on all of us who have ever feared loving openly in public.

today, we mourn the loss of 49 people. today, we speak their names.

today, we stand with all those who were and continue to be impacted by the pulse night club attack.

as pride month continues, remember to remember that PRIDE IS STILL POLITICAL and it is STILL NECESSARY! REMEMBER that we are NOT alone.

love louder, rage more and march harder!

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on this very day last year, we screened our documentary at the fifth annual latino film festival. we were the only film to highlight an experience from the latinx queer community.

i remember being ecstatic. our modest documentary was shot partly with an iphone 3 and with absolutely no budget. never did we imagine that our project would be a part of any film festival. needless to say, we were crying tears of joy.

we spent the entire day at the festival lifting the voices of queer and gay latino men. so much so that we were too tired to go to any after party. anthony, sean and myself just went home to rest. philly pride was the next day and i had three gv interviews scheduled.

we planned to share these pictures the following monday. we planned to share our joy with you all. that did not happen.

the following morning, i got several texts about a shooting in orlando. details were far and few in between. i wasn’t sure how to progress the information, however little. i had a busy day day ahead of me and was trying to stay focused.

as i made my way through philly pride with my then 13 year old son, i began to get details of the massacre. i saw anthony, who is generally has the emotional capacity of a brick, tear up. this is when i knew i had to stop and feel the impact. i began to finally check for details on cnn. this is when i broke. my son asked my i was tearing up. i told him. he was silent. we were all silent. we had literally spent the past two days lifting voices of the community that was murdered.

we spent the following months processing and trying to heal.

we have not shared these pics until now. one of our proudest moments exists with one of our most saddest. our lives and the lives of many queer latinx were different on june 11, 2016. we all awoke to a very different reality on june 12, 2016. however, our stories did not start or end on that day. our stories and our legacy continue.

- louie

*please excuse any typos. wrote and posted while out building community with varones at pride*

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yesterday, after wrapping up a gran varones interview in san francisco, we got an email notification that we had 59 new followers. initially, our thought was, “wow, spamming it lit af* on tumblr today.” after checking out some of the blogs of the new...

yesterday, after wrapping up a gran varones interview in san francisco, we got an email notification that we had 59 new followers. initially, our thought was, “wow, spamming it lit af* on tumblr today.” after checking out some of the blogs of the new followers, it was clear that these followers were legit. we then started to feel excited but we still trying to figure out what caused this beautiful surge. the answer came in form of an email. turns out that tumblr boosted our project for pride month! even tumblr’s description of our project is amazing and on point! we legit began to cry. 

this past week has been nothing short of spectacular. on wednesday, the latino glbt history project hosted an exhibition our project as part of their latinx pride events in washington, dc. thank you to chrsitopher rivera for reppin’ gran varones and holding it up at the event. 

on thursday, we were invited by the philadelphia office of lgbtq affairs to be a part of the city’s pride kick-off event and the raising of the city’s new pride flag which includes the addition of black and brown stripes to signify the city’s commitment to black and brown LGBTQ community members. shout out to varones alexander velez for reppin’ gran varones and juan david franco for taking amazing photos. 

we are so, so full gratitude and thank you all for your continued love and support. 

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today is national HIV long-term survivors day. today we honor, celebrate and continue to stand alongside the long-term survivors of the HIV epidemic. this year’s theme is HIV Resilient. there was a time when surviving and thriving with HIV was...

today is national HIV long-term survivors day. today we honor, celebrate and continue to stand alongside the long-term survivors of the HIV epidemic. this year’s theme is HIV Resilient. there was a time when surviving and thriving with HIV was science fiction - but here we are. still existing and still resisting! 

many of us have defied the odds. and we still have years to go! we salute you and know that many of us are here because many of you fought for the possibility for us just to simply be. thank you.

“because even AIDS, stigma, homophobia, racism, white supremacy, violence and oppression can’t keep us from rising. and when we become ancestors, we will continue rise in the voices of those who speak our names without shame.

so keep rising varones because resurrections are real.”

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yo bruce, you’re wack!

you would think that yt cis-gay men would learn to keep their condescending mouths shut but they don’t learn. ever. they do, however, love to tell black and brown folks what to do, think, feel and say. 

earlier this week, news broke about a top doc at mazzoni center, the largest LGBTQ agency in philadelphia, being on paid leave amid an internal investigation of alleged misconduct of a sexual nature. what does that mean? well, that can mean a lot of things but as a former employee of mazzoni and as a philadelphia resident, i can say that for years there were whispers about boundaries being crossed with clients. if you have worked in non-profits for as long as i have, you know that these accusations are seldom investigated or even addressed. this is because it would shine a terrible light on the agency, and that could potentially jeopardize funding. so it is often swept under the rug, ESPECIALLY if the accusations are made against a person who is in a position of great power - ya know, like an executive director, manager, or doctor.

anywho, after the news broke, about 30 mazzoni center staff members WALKED out! this is huge because front-line workers are often bullied into silence out of fear of retaliation from leadership. but hunty, on tuesday mornting, mazzoni staff said “fuck it! we stand by our patients!” this is also huge as patients, clients, and participants of LGBTQ and HIV orgs are often erased and minimized to deliverables. i can also tell you that it took me years to unlearn that agencies were more powerful than community. i can learn that as service providers and activists, our commitment should always lie with community. so kudos to mazzoni front-line staff for literally standing in that commitment.

naturally because mazzoni center is nationally renowned, many community members came to the defense of the agency, its CEO nurit shein and their top doc, robert winn. of course, this was no surprise because people defended iCandy’s owner after video surfaced of him joyfully saying the N-word over and over and over again. iCandy is a philadelphia bar located in the gayborhood, but the defense of mazzoni’s CEO and top doc that i found to be the most ridiculous was that of bruce yelk. apparently, he is the producer of Distrkt C in washington, dc. let’s take a look at his post.

oh bruce, where the fuck do i begin. oh yeah, i know - SHUT THE FUCK UP! he calls the current “mazzoni issues” a “witch-hunt.” LMAO!!! demanding that mazzoni center keep patients safe from predatory staff is a “witch-hunt”? you’re hella whack bruce! he also goes on to state that “there would be no mazzoni center without nurit shein and dr. winn.” as a former staff member, let me say that it is the FRONT-LINE staff that keep the patients and community members coming back. it is the FRONT-LINE staff, who are often overworked and underappreciated, that keep that place from folding. the only thing nurit provided was a safe space for dr. winn to exist without any accountability. how do we know this for sure? a fuckin’ former board member went on record just two days ago stating so in a piece written by timaree schmit for the philadelphia weekly. mark coyne, a pharmacist who served on the board of directors for mazzoni center for 8 fuggin’ years from 2008-2016 confirmed that allegations against dr. winn were brought the attention of board during his term. he also stated that CEO nurit shein did not take the allegations seriously because they were made anonymously. ya know, as a sexual abuse survivor, i will tell you that telling someone is HARD AS FUCK because people still refuse to believe sexual abuse victims. also, medical providers have a lot of power. to be forthcoming about a doctor’s misconduct, especially a doctor who is so beloved by the community, could potentially put one’s medical care in jeopardy, especially if you’re poz.

mark coyne also stated in timaree’s philadelphia weekly article that a former board president received an anonymous letter from staff members detailing allegations of sexual relationships between dr. winn with “one or two patients.” it gets fuckin’ better. the former board president does what she is supposed to do and calls an emergency meeting to address the allegations and nurit shein shuts her down! so yeah, bruce, tell us again how there would be no mazzoni center without nurit and dr. winn?

bruce then goes on to defend nelly fitzpatrick, former director of LGBTQ affairs in philadelphia and pa house representative brian sims who both waited too damn long to address the anti-Blackness and racism in philadelphia’s gayborhood. brian sims himself has said that he dropped the ball. but according to bruce, brian got “bashed” for not “speaking up on 1 issue.” yeah, he said that. according to bruce not speaking up and against racism in the gayborhood is not a big thing. lawd!

bruce also goes on to write that DC’s gay scene “cares about each other, works together and conducts themselves in a respectful manner.” which one of us is gonna tell him about the DC’s racism and anti-Blackness in the gay scene - especially at JR’s?in the event that you missed that story bruce, read all about it here.

so it gets even better. when someone challenges him on the dress-code at woody’s, a philly gay club, and how the “no timbaland boots” was rooted in anti-Blackness, bruce responds with this:

i should mention that the owners of woody’s have gone on record stating that there is no dress-code and nor has there ever been.

yo bruce, which “culture” wears timbs and “thinks nothing about punching someone before talking about the issue?” i am not wearing timbs right now and i still wanna punch you. then when he was challenged about his white privilege, this fool responds with:


why do i bring all of this shit up? great that you asked. well ya know the lgbtq march on washington is happening the same exact weekend as capital pride and bruce, who is the producer of District C in washington, dc is slated to make some major coins. i am thinking for any of us who are planning to be in DC that bruce doesn’t deserve our coins. it’s clear who he values, and it isn’t those who are not white and in “leadership” positions.one more thing bruce, your beloved doctor just resigned.

so i am tired of typing and centering this wack ass cis-yt gay dude and i will leave you with this queer proverb by xin ania:

stop letting racists hide behind queerness!

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Louie: Thanks for meeting with me
Efrain: No thank you! I think it’s really cool that you’re allowing me to be a part of this project. I am glad that Felix connected us.
Louie: So am I. Actually, Felix’s interview is one of the interviews that still...

Louie: Thanks for meeting with me

Efrain: No thank you! I think it’s really cool that you’re allowing me to be a part of this project. I am glad that Felix connected us.

Louie: So am I. Actually, Felix’s interview is one of the interviews that still moves me till this day and that was almost 2 years ago. So no pressure as I am about to interview you.

Efrain: None at all. [LoL]

Louie: So tell me, what did you grow up?

Efrain: I grew up in Chester, right outside of Philadelphia – by the airport. It was cool. All of my family lives out there and we were all pretty close. My father is Puerto Rican and moved to the states when he was 12. A s a kid, I loved being around that side of my family. I loved being surrounded by the culture and watching my aunt listen and dance to music while she cooked in the kitchen. It just felt like home. As far as my sexuality, I kept that to myself. I hid it – not out of shame because I was never ashamed of myself but I have a very nosy family. 

Louie: Who doesn’t? [LoL]

Efrain: Right. In my family, if you were male and didn’t say anything or make any noise when a pretty woman walked by, people had questions about you. If you didn’t like sports, people had questions about you. I didn’t like girls “that way” or sports, so questions were always there about me.. One day my cousin, being nosy as always, pulled me to the side and was like and asked me if I was gay. I answered honestly but she then started to tell other family members. So before it the information spread like wild fire, I told my parents. I felt I owed it to them to hear it from me and not anyone else.

Louie: When did you discover Philly’s Gayborhood?

Efrain: It had be like 1994. I was 16 – 17. I remember sneaking to Woody’s on young adult night. I would wait until my parents fell asleep before I left and I would leave my sneakers by the basement door and leave the door unlocked. I would return in time right before my father got up to go to work.  

Louie:  So what was that like for at age 16?

Efrain: It was good thing to see that guys were attracted to other guys. At that age, I knew that there were gay people out there but I didn’t know any at that time.  It also felt good to be in a space where you could go up to a guy and talk to him without feeling like you were going to get into a fight.

Louie: Do you remember your first Latin night at a gay club?

Efrain: It was also at Woody’s of course. It was cool because I would hear the same music that my aunt played in the kitchen.  All my friends were black and weren’t interested in going. So I jumped at the first opportunity to go. I wanted to check it out. It was cool to see other Latino gay guys too. But the interesting part that experience was how I was made to feel like I didn’t belong. Like I wasn’t “Latino” enough by the other Latino gay guys. I am not sure if it was because I didn’t look “Latino” enough or if it was because I didn’t grow up in their neighborhoods or whatever. I felt really uncomfortable and I thought it would be like home and it wasn’t. I would watch them greet each other like family and I felt excluded.

Louie: We Black Boricuas get that a lot.

Efrain: Yes, I would get asked “Oh you’re Puerto Rican, do you speak Spanish?” And when I would say no they would say “How are you Puerto Rican then if you cannot speak Spanish?” This still happened till this day. It is mainly why I stopped going to Latin night. I got tired of feeling out of place or feeling like I had to prove that that I was “Latino” enough. I love the music and I love dancing salsa but feeling out of place is not worth it – sometimes.

Louie: Do you think that could change after Pulse? How we all interact? How people make room for Black Puerto Ricans?

Efrain: I think so. I hope so. I have become friends with Ricky Melendez. He was one of the first people you interviewed.  I saw his video. He understood me and he knows what it is like and has embraced me and been really welcoming. I see people like yourself, this project and organizations like Galaei and I want to be more involved. I have fears that I will not be accepted but I want to be more involved.

Louie: Well listen, I am in Philly soon. When I am there, let’s take a visit to Galaei. You down?

Efrain: Yeah, I’m down.

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