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BY Advocate Contributors

April 24 2012 12:56 AM ET

Ernesto Dominguez • 23
Portland, Ore.
Youth Technology Specialist, Cascade AIDS Project

Holding hands in public should be an act of affection. But for same-sex couples, it’s also often one of bravery, even in liberal Portland, Ore. Two men there were enjoying the view from the city’s Hawthorne Bridge last year when they were jumped and beaten by a group of as-yet unidentified attackers.

 Resident Ernesto Dominguez quickly organized a solidarity rally on Facebook. “Let’s take back our bridge and show the community we won’t stand for this hatred,” he recalls of the event’s impetus.

 Dominguez works as the youth technology specialist for the Cascade AIDS Project and drew on that experience, using social media to bring more than 4,000 people back to the bridge a week later, where they all joined hands. Appreciation for Dominguez’s efforts spread beyond Portland—in March the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force presented Dominguez with its Paul A. Anderson Youth Leadership Award. His thank-you speech, in which he talked about being both a gay man and an undocumented immigrant, was widely shared among activists.
 

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