Latino LGBT Activists Join Forces at “Unión=Fuerza”

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February 24, 2014
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Francisco Dueñas, Director of Proyecto Igualdad, speaks at Unión=Fuerza.

This blog post was co-authored by Francisco Dueñas, Director of Proyecto Igualdad, Lambda Legal’s Latino outreach program, and Luis Román, Uniting America Fellow at Lambda Legal.

Being a double minority can lead to isolation and burnout. That’s why Lambda Legal’s Latino outreach program, Proyecto Igualdad, helps organize “Unión=Fuerza” for LGBT Latina and Latino activists.

Now in its second year, Unión=Fuerza is a day-long convening at Creating Change, the nation’s largest LGBT conference, hosted annually by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The goal behind Unión=Fuerza is to prevent that isolation and burnout by forming collaborative relationships among Latino LGBT activists, sharing resources and information, and building organizational skills.

This year’s installment, held January 30 in Houston, drew about 200 participants from around the country and from different walks of life: college students, elders, parents of LGBT youth, undocumented immigrant activists, and transgender and racial justice advocates.

Out of those diverse backgrounds, a consensus emerged: We will all continue to push for a compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, one that takes into account the experiences and protects members of the LGBT community. To do that, we will strengthen our partnerships with Latino and immigrant rights organizations, and build alliances with other progressive movements.

In one of the many workshops, Bamby Salcedo and other members of the TransLatina Coalition facilitated a critical discussion about transgender Latina immigrants in the United States and the high risk for HIV and physical and emotional abuse.

In another panel, members of the Latino Commission on AIDS and the National Minority AIDS Council explored more effective ways of persuading Latinos, including immigrants, to get tested for HIV. They also weighed the benefits of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for gay Latino men.

For Lambda Legal, Unión=Fuerza is an opportunity to promote our work and gain greater visibility in the Latino community. We make the case for equality, not only in our nation’s courts, but also in people’s homes. By working with families and with entire communities, we are able to change hearts and minds. Our movement must be inclusive, and through Unión=Fuerza, that is exactly what we are doing.