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Exploring the Intersection of Latinx, Catholic, and LGBTQ+ Identities

Eder Díaz Santillan
Photo courtesy Eder Diaz Santillan

Eder Diaz Santillan's podcast De Pueblo, Catolico y Gay provides a platform for uncomfortable but necessary conversations.

This article was originally published byQ Voice News.

The Spanish podcast De Pueblo, Catolico y Gay explores the intersection of LGBTQ+, Latino, and Catholic identities. It's a platform for uncomfortable conversations that can lead to understanding, unity, and healing.

Eder Diaz Santillan, who was known as the personality "Gorritas" on the Los Angeles radio station KLOVE (107.5 FM), is the host-creator-producer of the 30-minute podcast. Episodes are posted every Monday.

"Most of the interviews I post explore those three parts of an individual's journey: the discovery of your sexual and gender identity, learning the language to self-identify with, and the family aspect you grew up in and how it affected you, if it did," says Diaz Santillan, 35, who also is a part-time lecturer at Cal State Northridge's Spanish journalism program.

"I find that Latinx individuals, even if they don't come from a pueblo themselves, are still raised in households that embrace that traditional binary role where there is a male assigned a very specific role and a role assigned to the woman. There's very little room for anything else," Diaz Santillan says.

De Pueblo, Catolico y Gay was inspired by Diaz Santillan's coming-out process. Family acceptance for Latinx LGBTQ+ youth is a top concern when coming out, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign. The report found that one in three Latinx LGBTQ+ youth fear for their safety when coming out because they were raised in families that embraced conservative values and religious beliefs.

De Pueblo, Catolico y Gay, launched in mid-2018, has posted more than 100 episodes during its six seasons. Each 17-episode season mirrors the academic semester during the school year.

The podcast has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.

Diaz Santillan, who received a bachelor's degree in journalism, is also a student, working on his master's degree in mass communication at Cal State Northridge. The podcast is part of his thesis.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Diaz Santillan, 35, talks about how his dad inspired the podcast, why he left KLOVE, and why it's important to have a Spanish podcast.

Here are some excerpts.

His students know he is gay

"I notice that students who also identify as queer tend to open up faster about projects they want to work on, tend to be a little more outspoken," Diaz Santillan says. "I think my being out provides a safe space of students who identify as part of the community."

Coming out to his family

Diaz Santillan came out when he was 20 in 2005.

"The immediate reaction from my family to my coming out was very welcoming," Diaz Santillan says. "I moved on with my life. I went to college. I graduated. I stayed in L.A. to work. I started to live my own life.

"My dad lives in the Inland Empire [an area east of Los Angeles]. I would come over on the weekends and visit. One day, about five years ago, we were having a conversation, and he opened up about what it was like for him after I came out as gay," says Diaz Santillan, whose parents separated before he came out. "He said he had difficulty sleeping for a few months, worrying about me being bullied or attacked for being who I am."

Family conversations

"I never checked in on my mom or dad or my siblings. I just told them and moved on," Diaz Santillan says. "It brought upon this realization that coming out is a really hard thing for some Latinx households. There are individuals who have open communication and don't struggle with guilt. But then there are individuals, like me, who have deep intersectionalities with religion, and tradition. Coming out becomes a very dramatic, emotional process."

"Having those conversations is hard, and all the conversations after that are hard too," Diaz Santillan says. "I realized that we really need to talk about this."

KLOVE (107.5 FM)

Diaz Santillan was a morning show producer and weekend on-air talent at the Los Angeles radio station from 2014 to 2019.

"We would avoid a queer conversation on the air," Diaz Santillan says. "They didn't have a space in Spanish-language media. I knew this as a producer. I abided by it as a producer.

"It felt like the online space could offer me that platform," he says. "I knew I couldn't do it in mainstream media."

"I quit the radio station," Diaz Santillan says. "I wanted to be myself. I was out but felt like I was in the closet at work, in a way. I couldn't come out to my audience."

Spanish podcast

"The podcast is mostly conversations in Spanish because I want to make sure that the podcast is accessible to everyone in the Latinx community and that the language does not become a barrier for this content," Diaz Santillan says. "I am happy to see many platforms addressing these issues in English, but Spanish speakers continue to have less of these resources available."

Podcast reaction, format

"Mostly what it's done is that it's inspired people to tell their stories," Diaz Santillan says. "I think that motivation to speak up comes from, Wow. I've never seen myself in something."

Diaz Santillan asks each guest these questions: How do you remember your childhood? What does God mean to you? How did you find the words, learn how to self-identify? Are you happy?

"I'm not pressing for details. People are sharing what they want to share," Diaz Santillan says. "A lot of people are not coming for advice, they just want to get this information off their chest.

"There have been times on the podcast when, after the episode, I refer guests to a professional therapist or I give them resources that help in the healing process."

The guests

"Every single person who is willing to share so much of their life with me leaves a huge and lasting impact. I remember every conversation in detail," Diaz Santillan says. "I am eternally grateful that they trust me to the point that they are willing to share with me things they haven't shared with anyone else. That to me is very powerful."

Sixth season guest

"In this sixth season, I was able to speak to Edgar again. He first came to me in season 2as an anonymous story," Diaz Santillan says. "At the time, he felt like he needed to come out as bisexual to his wife to be his whole self in the relationship."

"I remember the fear in his voice and his desire to speak freely about this part of his life that he had never shared to anyone. I was the first person to ever know his identity, and subsequently, so were my listeners," Diaz Santillan says. "After two years of putting in the work and going to therapy, he finally is comfortable sharing his name and had a beautiful coming-out conversation with his wife."

Wanted guest

"I have yet to have a priest on the podcast," Diaz Santillan says. "It is essential to have an open conversation with someone that represents the church about my experience with the church as a gay man. It's looking really good for that to finally happen during this season."

His agenda

"My goal is that queer individuals don't live a life feeling like they have to hide a part of themselves. My goal is to promote conversations, especially within families so that you are your whole self with your loved ones," Diaz Santillan says. "I hope nobody puts themselves in danger to come out. That's the most important thing to be safe."

"A lot of people avoid it for many reasons, and they live these dual lives, where you are a person in front of your family and relatives because you think they won't accept your whole self," he says. "I want that to end."

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