Previously published at Extra Newspaper
In late April of 2010, a group of community activists, leaders and representatives of various community organizations and groups met at Efebina’s Café in Pilsen with the simple goal of discussing how to best celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer Latino community in Chicago.
“We only wanted to get together to talk,” said Jessica Carrillo, planning committee member of United Latino Pride. “But then as we continued talking, everyone began to get excited.”
By the end of the meeting, United Latino Pride was born with the simple goal of acknowledging the important work already being done by the various groups and organizations that serve the LGBTQ Latino community in Chicago.
Within six weeks time, the committee organized a full week of events that included a panel discussion, a film screening and a youth summit, among others.
Although small the first year, the willingness of the community to come together and collectively organize the week, demonstrated that a need existed for events that celebrate the intersectional identities of LGBTQ Latinos.
The numbers may very well support this argument. Although as of yet there exist no definitive statistics regarding the number of LGBTQ people in Chicago — using the Williams Institutes most recent estimate — approximately four percent of the Latino population could potentially identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.
With the city boasting a Latino population of over 740,000, according to the 2010 US Census, the size of the LGBTQ Latino community could anywhere between 25 or 30 thousand people strong.
Now in its third year and running June 4 through June 10, United Latino Pride is, for the moment, a much more intimate celebration than the Pride Parade and Market Days.
However, there is one key factor besides its size separates United Latino Pride from the Pride Parade, Market Days and other LGBTQ festivities that occur throughout the city of Chicago: the majority of its events will take place outside of Lakeview and Andersonville, two Chicago neighborhoods famous for being LGBTQ-affirming. Instead, all but two events will take place in the heavily Latino-populated areas of Pilsen, Little Village and Cicero.
For the organizers, this was a deliberate move.
“We could have had our events on the North side, but we already know those neighborhoods are ‘gay-friendly,’” said Carrillo. “Part of the reason of ULP is to celebrate who we are. But the other part is education. We want to help educate our family, friends and community around what it means to be LGBTQ and Latino.”
That’s not to say the organizers haven’t had set backs.
“Sometimes when we’re promoting ULP, dropping off flyers, some businesses won’t allow us to post up a sign because the subject matter may be ‘too controversial,’” said Carrillo.
Compared to last year, 2012’s ULP week boasts a much slimmer line-up, with most days having only one event planned.
“We’ve learned to not over-extend ourselves. The last two years, it was difficult for people to make it to all our events, especially when they were on opposite sides of town,” said Carrillo. “That’s why this year we stayed with our most popular events.”
Making another appearance this year are ULP’s popular Lotería Jotería, hosted by drag performer La Más Mejor, and ULP’s Summerdance and guac-off (guacamole competition).
There are new events added this year, however. For the first time, ULP will be having a community summit at the end of the week, where leaders from various community organizations and groups will be giving workshops on everything from safe sex practices to how to be a better ally.
Additionally, ULP week will come to a close with “Unite For One Night,” a dance party that is being promoted as “the first event of its kind,” with 24 promoters and 15 DJs from around the city playing in one location.
For additional information and full list of events visit http://unitedlatinopride.org