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My Journey as a Gay Latino Mormon from South Texas

My Journey as a Gay Latino Mormon from South Texas

<p>My Journey as a Gay Latino Mormon from South Texas</p>
Jorge Valencia of the Point Foundation

As rights for marginalized groups began to grow, so did the violence against Latine, LGBTQ+, and other diverse communities, writes the Point Foundation's Jorge Valencia.

Growing up a gay, Mormon, Latino in south Texas was not easy. While I was surrounded by many Latine people, I knew the world at large did not see us as the loving and diverse community that we are. On television, Latine people were relegated to the roles of cooks and service workers. We were never shown to be intelligent or accomplished, but rather as gangsters or comedic characters.

I remember feeling that parts of my identity always had to be downplayed or ignored. I was either too Mexican or not Mexican enough in the eyes of my peers. Later when I came to terms with my sexuality, my Mormon upbringing told me I was a mistake. I felt such strong shame that I even attempted suicide.

My life now is completely different from back then. Representation has improved, though it’s not perfect. A broader spectrum of Latine people are portrayed in media and we see leaders from our community in every major industry. I’m proudly out in my personal and professional communities. I am a gay, Texan, Mormon-raised Latino man, who has the privilege of leading Point Foundation, the largest nonprofit granting scholarships to LGBTQ students.

For a while, I thought things were getting better, especially for the young people with whom I work.

But, as representation and rights for marginalized and intersectional groups began to grow, so did the violence against Latine, LGBTQ, and other diverse communities, often with the complicity or outright encouragement of state and national leaders. At the borders of our nation, Latine families are being torn apart and face danger crossing rivers with razor-sharp wires; all while leaders in state capitals and the halls of Congress encourage these horrific measures. On top of that, LGBTQ people face waves of hate legislation, particularly impacting transgender individuals and those of us who are LGBTQ and BIPOC.

If you are a part of the LGBTQ community, you may know what it’s like to have part of your identity oppressed, hidden, or rejected. You may know the shame of feeling as though you don’t belong, or that part of you isn’t wanted. During this Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month, I call on the broader LGBTQ community to stand up for the rights and representation of people with intersecting identities.

Educate yourself about different identities that you aren’t familiar with, including the diverse experiences of Latine and Hispanic people, to better understand the origins and cultures we represent. Act by voting and advocating against racist and anti-LGBTQ policies. Be a role model for LGBTQ youth by being open and proud of all of your identities.

As a vocal political minority seeks to roll back the rights of diverse communities, women, and LGBTQ people, it’s time to show off the pride we have as Latinos, as queer people, as individuals with identities not constrained by stereotypes or shame.

Jorge Valencia is the CEO and Executive Director of the Point Foundation.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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