Tag Archives: latino

Kiss & Tell promotes HIV prevention in NYC

The Gay Men’s Health Crisis is celebrating Pride month with a New York City HIV prevention campaign – Kiss & Tell.

Beginning May 29, GMHC is placing posters in phone kiosks throughout the city encouraging young gay and bisexual men to have open discussions and tell their partners their sexual history and HIV status.

The campaign was created by members of GMHC’s youth leadership program, CLUB1319.org, which provides prevention education, social networking and skills training.

“The Kiss & Tell campaign underscores the message that the lives of young African American and Latino gay men are valued and not dispensable,” said GMHC executive director Marjorie Hill. “In GMHC’s 30th year, we remain committed to ending health disparities for youth and highlighting what is possible for young gay couples as they express trust, respect and commitment for one another.”

The most recent data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a 48 percent increase in infections among young gay men between 2006 and 2009.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports a 50 percent rise in new HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men under the age of 30.

Celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz took the photos for the Kiss & Tell campaign.

“Recognizing how difficult it was for me to find my way through my teenage years as a gay youth, I think it is vitally important that all LGBT youth have a source of support and guidance,” he said.

Fashion director and stylist Memsor Kamarake and makeup artist Merrell Hollis also donated their time and materials for the project, while Sandbox Studio donated the room for the film shoot.

The posters went up in phone kiosks in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, West Village and Chelsea.

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Obama’s marriage stance energizes immigration activists

President Barack Obama’s shift to support gay marriage is energizing young Hispanic voters who have been working side-by-side with gay activists in their push for immigration reform.

The alliance has been growing across the U.S., helping dispel what many say is an outdated notion that Hispanics are less tolerant of gays than the general public.

“My members are telling me that we need to learn from the gay community,” said Dee Dee Garcia Blase, founder of the Phoenix-based Somos Republicans. She is now head of the Tequila Party, which she formed last year with the goal of registering young Hispanics to vote for immigration-friendly candidates like Obama.

“We need to take a lesson from the (lesbian and gay) community with regard to being that loud, squeaky wheel that gets fixed,” Blase said. “We need to be more aggressive, and we realize it.”

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are focused heavily on winning the Hispanic vote, not just because it holds the key to battleground states in the southwestern U.S. but because Latinos make up the fastest-growing minority group. The government projects Hispanics will account for roughly 30 percent of the population by 2050, doubling in size and boosting their political power. Some 600,000 young Hispanics who were born in the U.S. turn 18 each year to enter a widening pool of more than 21 million Hispanic eligible voters.

Conservative Hispanics see the president’s endorsement of same-sex marriage as an opportunity to draw Latinos to the Republican Party. According to a 2007 religion survey of U.S. Latinos by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, two-thirds of Hispanics said their religious beliefs are an important influence on their political thinking. While more than two-thirds of Hispanics identified themselves as Roman Catholic, 15 percent said they were born-again Protestants. Evangelical Latinos, who cite Biblical teaching for their stance against homosexuality, are twice as likely as those who are Catholic to vote Republican.

But a poll released in April 2011 by the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights advocacy organization, and Social Science Research Solutions, a public opinion research firm, indicated that while 66 percent of those surveyed identified as Roman Catholic, 49 percent favored allowing same-sex marriage. That number climbed to 59 percent in favor of giving gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights as married couples. A surprising 69 percent favored allowing gay or lesbian couples to marry in their church or religious institution, and 52 percent did not view homosexuality as a sin. Most of those surveyed, 71 percent, were under the age of 50.

While George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, by 2008, 67 percent of the Hispanic vote had swung toward Obama. And that vote was pivotal to his success in states like Colorado, where exit polls show Republican Sen. John McCain would have won if only Caucasians had voted.

For many young Hispanics, both immigrant and U.S.-born, the DREAM Act – which would offer students who entered the country illegally as children a pathway to citizenship – is a key issue. Obama supports the proposal, while Romney’s hard line against the measure, which he has called a handout, has alienated many Hispanic voters. The Pew Hispanic Center found in a December 2011 survey that 91 percent of Hispanics support the legislation.

Juan Rodriguez, who is active in the Florida Immigrant Coalition and an immigrant himself, said the gay rights and immigrant rights movements are “very aligned and becoming more so every year.

The co-president of Blase’s Tequila Party, Shara Mora James is gay. And two so-called Dreamers, or leaders in the movement to pass the DREAM Act, have recently taken over two emerging gay rights groups, Freedom to Work and Get Equal.

“The immigrant rights movement is grounded on advocating with the most oppressed out of our community, and in many cases, that has been queer undocumented youth,” said Rodriguez. “We are figuring out more and more ways of supporting each other because we all grew up being told we needed to live in fear because of the communities we love.”

Hispanic leaders and political watchers say they don’t expect Obama’s announcement to have much impact on the Latino vote, which could be key to victory in battleground states like New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

“No, no, no, no, no. It’s not going to affect my vote,” said Sister “Molly” Maria Luisa Munoz, a Roman Catholic nun in Denver who works with immigrants and the gay and lesbian community. “My mother straightened us out right away,” she said. “God made everybody. How we came out? That’s God’s creation. Nobody should judge.”

At Barela’s Coffee House in Albuquerque’s predominantly Hispanic South Valley, manager Geri Lucero said when the talk turns to politics there, it’s almost always about the economy.

“Economics is more important right now because people are struggling with their money,” the 57-year-old said, noting that conversation on the day after Obama’s announcement revolved around two recent pit bull maulings, not gay marriage.

Will Obama’s stance impact her vote? No, she replied.

The Pew Research Center survey of Latinos in March 2011 showed 59 percent of Hispanics said homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 58 percent of the general population.

Gary Segura, director of Chicano studies at Stanford University, said that even though Hispanics hold more conservative views on family and social issues than the general population, “it’s not how Latinos vote. It’s about jobs, the economy, education.”

The morning after Obama’s announcement, discussion on a Spanish-language radio station popular with Cuban-Americans in Miami focused on the president’s embrace of same-sex marriage, but most callers seemed more interested in discussing the likely political calculations that went into the decision than in slamming the president for violating their religious principles.

Delsa Bernardo, who co-owns Yiya’s Gourmet Cuban Bakery and Cafe in Miami with her life partner, said Obama’s shift has actually re-energized her support for the president. Bernardo said she backed Obama in 2008 but has since become disillusioned with him, mostly over the difficulty she’s had in getting business loans from banks that received the bailouts backed by the president.

“It might swing my vote more to him because he’s more open on this,” she said.

Still, some conservative Hispanics said they will use Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage to try to woo more Latinos to the Republican Party.

About 25 conservatives representing 10 southern Nevada churches met recently at the Casa Don Juan restaurant in downtown Las Vegas. The group of pastors, Hispanic activists and social conservatives blasted Obama’s stance, fretting about the future of the family in the United States.

“He’s destroying the fabric of the family,” said Juan Sclafani, a Republican pastor at the First Spanish Baptist Church in Las Vegas. “His motivation is to get votes, but he doesn’t realize that he is destroying our nation.”

Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles in Washington, D.C., said his group expects to use the gay marriage debate to recruit new Hispanic supporters for Romney. They plan to focus on voter registration in Nevada and then branch out to Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and New Mexico.

Colorado’s Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, who is both gay and Hispanic, said it was difficult to say how Obama’s statements would affect the presidential race in Colorado this year.

“While it may not be the most politically advantageous decision to make, he made the right decision,” Palacio said. “I think that’s more important than anything else. He’s putting the right thing to do ahead of politics.”

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TV’s ‘Ugly Betty’ broke ground for Latinos, gays

MIAMI (AP) — During its four-year run, television’s “Ugly Betty” skewered the New York fashion world, nabbing celebrity cameos from the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Shakira and Isaac Mizrahi.

It turned America Ferrera, who played the plucky but style-challenged Betty Suarez, into a household name. And it landed a prestigious Peabody Award.

As the credits roll on the wacky dramedy’s last episode April 14, Latino, gay rights groups and fans are lamenting more than the loss of Betty’s cringe-inducing outfits and the melodrama of the Meade family — owners of the show’s fictional fashion magazine Mode. The hourlong show was also among the rare network programs to tackle such controversial issues as gay teens, body image and illegal immigration.

The show contrasted Betty’s career at Mode with her working class, Mexican immigrant family, including her widower father Ignacio, her impulsive older sister Hilda and her theater-loving, fashion expert nephew Justin, who came out as gay in this last season.

“Having this family at the center of the show made it normal to watch a Latino family in a non-stereotypical way,” Ferrera said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Lisa Navarrete, a vice president for the National Council of La Raza, said the show’s absence will leave a void.

“You don’t have a lot of Latino-themed shows on TV, so when we lose ‘Ugly Betty,’ we will have a major loss,” she said.

Navarrete noted that George Lopez paved the way for “Ugly Betty” in 2002 with his Bill Cosby styled family sitcom, but she called “Ugly Betty” edgier.

The brainchild of producer Silvio Horta and actress and producer Salma Hayek, “Ugly Betty” was based on a Colombian telenovela that became so popular it was copied in Mexico, Germany and elsewhere.

The English version also proved a global hit. More than 10,000 Facebook fans from as far as England, the Philippines and Bangladesh have begged ABC not to cancel the show since it announced this season would be its last, following a decline in the show’s ratings an ever-changing schedule.

Shortly after the height of the immigration debate, the show followed Betty’s father as he confessed to his American-born children that he had been living in the U.S. illegally.

Even with comedic turns, “the plot line illustrated the complexity of the lives of many undocumented immigrants who are otherwise integrated into American life,” Navarrete said. “You have a lot of families like ‘Ugly Betty’ where you have U.S. born children whose parents have undocumented status.”

More groundbreaking was the show’s handling of its gay and transgender characters, said Jarett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Although initially played for laughs, “Ugly Betty” provided a sympathetic portrait of Meade scion Alex who transforms into the stunning Alexis. And it followed the bumpy love life of Mode’s gay fashion assistant Marc St. James.

But most of all, it showed how Betty’s family accepted without fanfare Justin’s love for musicals and the latest fashion trends, a tacit acceptance of his sexuality. Then, in this final season, Justin got his first kiss with a boy.

Barrios said too often gay characters are depicted on TV as adults without families.

“A gay teen is also a son, a nephew, a grandson,” he said. “As a man who is both Latino and gay (and a father), I liked the show because it depicted really my own experience and that of so many others in the United States.”

Barrios said the show paved the way for network depictions of gay teens and families in shows such as “Glee,” “Brothers & Sisters,” and “Modern Family.”

“There are certain things that people just don’t expect anyone on television to talk about and whenever we dared to go there, it would make some people uncomfortable. But the only way to really make an impact and to inspire people to think is to venture into risky territory,” Ferrera said.

In leaving the show, Ferrera says she’s a little sad but looks forward to future projects. She currently voices a Viking bombshell in the DreamWorks animated feature “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“I think from the beginning I had a concern that we wouldn’t get enough time to kind of complete her transformation,” she said in a recent interview with the AP. “Could it keep on going? Maybe. But you know, I think we found a really good sort of peace with the character in her journey and now that it is the way it is, it feels like it was always meant to be.”