Today marks the anniversary of beginning of the Stonewall Riots, six days that are considered by many LGBTQ historian as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ Liberation movement. And while today may be well known throughout the LGBQ community, what isn’t well known is that it was a trans Latina — Sylvia Rivera — who with one bottle sparked it all.
In 1969, police raids on queer bars were a common occurrence. NYPD Frequently arrested patrons and harassed bar owners for bribes. However, on that hot June night, the patrons of the bar had enough and revolted, barricading the police inside the bar while from the outside burning molotov cocktails were thrown.
Today we honor that legacy of resistance and thank all the fierce warriors that came before us. But today we also acknowledge that Stonewall didn’t die. It lives on.
Although many of these people on this list may not be well known outside of their spheres of influence, we believe they live the spirit of Stonewall in everything they do. Their dedication to our community makes us proud to call them herman@s and makes us proud to be LGBTQ Latin@s.
Graciela I. Sánchez
Graciela I. Sánchez is the executive director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas. An openly queer woman of color, she has actively fought for the inclusion of working class/poor people of color, women, queer people, and other marginalized people living at the intersections of various forms of oppression. Under her leadership, the Esperanza Center develops programming that seeks to challenge racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia (along with other forms of oppression) while remaining grounded in the rich cultural heritage of San Antonio’s Tejan@/Chican@/Latin@ community.
Alexander Pacach has being involved in activism since high school. Now 21, Xander (as he is known to friends) continues to be be a tireless advocate for Los Angeles queer youth. In the past, he was among the organizers for the Hollywood Youth LGBTQ Conference and formed part of Legacy. He currently serves as a Youth Advocate with the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Division of Adolescent Medicine where he continues to carry his advocacy on behalf of young gay men of color, all while being an enrolled student at the Los Angeles Community College.
A trans salvadoran immigrant, Ruby Corado has dedicated the past 2o years of her life to ensure that the voices of trans people, particularly trans Latin@s, are heard. Although having accomplished many things throughout her years of activism in Washington, DC, Ruby’s latest project demonstrates her never-ending drive to ensure that the needs of the LGBTQ Latin@ community are met. Opened earlier this month, Casa Ruby is set to become a keystone in the DC community, where those seeking assistance will be able to find resources and space to call their own.
Before becoming the first trans person to hold a senior congressional staff position on Capital Hill, Diego Sánchez had many years of service within the LGBTQ community. He has served as Public Relations Director for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusettes and TransHealth Program Director at the Justice Resource Center in Boston.Working currently for US Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), Diego continues to be a voice for the LGBTQ community, making LGBTQ labor and healthcare one of his top priorities.
Mónica M. Márquez
When Mónica M. Márquez was appointed by governor Bill Ritter in 2010 to the post of Associate Justice of the Colorado State Supreme Court, she became the first Latina and first openly lesbian justice to serve. A native of Austin, Texas and raised in Grand Junction, Colorado, Mónica has served as president of the Colorado GLBT Bar Association and as board member of the Hispanic Bar Association, where she helped fight for the rights of LGBTQ people and Latin@s alike and ensuring that they are respected in the court of law. She is currently one of nine Latin@ State Supreme Court Justices and one of six LGBTQ State Supreme Court Justices throughout the country.
Emmanuel García is a one man Chicago institution. Not only is he the voice behind Chicago’s only Spanish language LGBTQ radio show Homofrecuencia, but he also been the lead organizer for Chicago’s largest queer youth prom for the past three years. A relentless advocate for queer youth, he is co-founder of the Association of Latino Men in Action (ALMA) scholarship, which awards two exceptional queer young men a college scholarship every year. Emmanuel is also an artist in his sparetime, most recently featured during 2012 United Latin@ Pride Week. It is because of his love for art that he also serves as Vice-President of the board of Pros Arts Studio. Currently he serves as project coordinator of RAICES, a youth-led HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in his hometown of Cicero.
Elizabeth Mendia is a proud trans woman living with HIV that has worked in both administrative and direct service roles in the HIV/AIDS services field for over 19 years, and is a recognized advocate for the provision of services for people living with HIV/AIDS. She currently serves as executive director of the Whittier Rio Hondo AIDS Project (WRHAP), a non-profit organization that provides case management, mental health and other services to uninsured people living with HIV/AIDS and operates the Christopher Wahl Youth Center in Whittier which provides HIV testing, prevention programming, and other services for marginalized youth.
David Pérez is all about building bridges. As as director of development for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) he fundraises for Latin@ community advocacy and programming and as president of the board for the Latino GLBT History Project, he helps ensure that the voices of LGBTQ Latin@s in the past and present are heard. Most recently, he was vital in the creation of the DC Queer People of Color Collective, a group dedicated to foster community and dialogue among the diverse queer communities of color in DC.
In her career as community activist, Demi Espinoza already has quite a few big names under her belt. She has worked with the Gay and Lesbian Task Force as a No on Prop 8. Campaign Fellow, as a Regional Field Manager for Equality California, and as a union representative for the Service Employee International Union. A fierce organizers, Demi has fought tirelessly for the rights of all couples to marry, regardless of gender. She most recently served as field organizer for Basic Rights Oregon’s Marriage Matters campaign.
Joanne Keatley may be called the Godmother of many trans people in the United States and in other parts of the world. Born in Mexico, Joanne has taken her advocacy and work to large governmental agencies, including the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Department of Human Services and Health. She has even gone to the White House to speak on behalf of the trans community. Joanne currently serves as Director of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of San Francisco, where she helps create programming that is directly relevant to the lives of trans people.