I like to think I’m pretty well-connected. I have, after all, been working (legally) in non-profits since I was 16. I have spoken on behalf on LGBTQ Immigrants at the May Day March in 2007. I’ve been on air at Homofrequencia with the amazing Tania Unzueta (@ilehlainat) twice. Not to mention that I’ve performed at various Latin@ events while studying at UIC. If anything, I’d say I’m very well-connected.
Then I went to last nights event. It was the kick-off party for the first ever Chicago Queer Latin@ Pride Week at 2nd Floor Gallery in Pilsen. I had decided to go because I wanted to support fellow San Antonio artist Ana Fernández (yes, I am aware I’m not actually San Antonian, but I’m San Antonian adjacent). Upon arriving, I realized I didn’t know anyone! How is this possible? Had my year and a half in absentia in San Antonio really affected my network that much? I was starting to feel pretty pathetic. However, as time went on (and that refreshing vodka pink lemonade started to sink in) I began to work the room a bit. Or maybe I should say, the room worked me; I am after all, a bit of a pasivo
During one of the conversations with Vivian González & Lisa Martínez (co-founders of the soon to be launched Lesbian online publication The L Stop), I realized something. This is exactly why we need a Queer Latin@ Pride week. If someone like me, who [once] thought of himself as well-connected, isn’t at all, then what about everyone else? I probably have seen many of the amazing people at this event before. The problem is where did I see them. I most likely saw them, and they me, at a club or at Market Days. We probably didn’t give each other a second thought. Just another brown face in the mix.
But we need to give each other a second thought. We are the fastest growing ethnic group in the nation. Our voice, while always important, is becoming louder. And the talent is already here. I was very impressed with the work everyone is doing. But few people, outside of our small network (as I added all my new “friends” this morning on Facebook, I was surprised to discover we already have 16 mutual friends; go figure!), know of all that is going on. Queer Latin@ Pride week will allow us space where we can meet new friends and talk to many of the amazing leaders in our community. We are more than just potential make-out partners at Circuit or small talk recipients at Spin on Dollar Drink nights. We are potential business partners and collaborators. Possible allies and advocates in the struggles we are all mutually fighting for. After last night, I’m more excited than ever for this week. ¡Qué viva el Orgullo! Bring on the pink lemonade!