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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Latinos and the Question of Homophobia

By La Estrella -

Elicia Gonzales is the Executive Director of GALAEI – a non-profit organization that, since 1989, has worked to provide HIV-related services to Latinos and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Philadelphia. GALAEI has been and remains a leading voice in Latino and LGBT healthcare issues and promotes accountability from all systems that serve them through education, representation, and advocacy.

Is homophobia more rampant in Latinos than other ethnic groups?

One could easily come to this conclusion. In March 2010, Mexican singer, Paquita la del Barrio said she would rather see a child die of hunger in the street than be adopted by a gay couple.  In October 2010, three gay Bronx Latino men were sodomized and tortured by seven Latino gang members. Last year in Philadelphia, a young male, having just moved from Mexico, was kicked out of his brother’s home for being gay. These all speak to homophobic Latinos.

Yet others disagree. On CNN’s “Latino in America,” Lourdes Torres, president of Amigas Latinas, a Chicago lesbian support group, said, “the notion that Latino people are more homophobic and its men more macho is not only false, but tinged with racism… men from all ethnic groups have long acted in a patriarchal manner, but only Latino men have the term “machismo” attached to their behavior…people tend to think that somehow, we’re more repressed and living in the Dark Ages.”

Perhaps homophobia in Latinos is perpetuated in the U.S. because acts of violence and hatred are more sensationalistic than those of love and tolerance. We should promote and celebrate those Latinos who have fought for decades and continue to wage battle against homophobia. The movie “La Mission” and the radionovela, “Bienvenidos a Casa,” (a Spanishlanguage radio drama aiming to break the silence surrounding homosexuality and its acceptance in California’s rural communities) are only two of many efforts worthy of applause.


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