BOSTON, Mass.—Boston Pride will host its third annual Latin@ Pride celebration September 21 through September 28 through various events in the Boston area. The organization took ownership of Latino Pride from the group Somos Latinos three years ago, who ran it for eight years prior. Latin@ Pride Co-Chairs Henry Paquin and Patricia Arevalo explained the meaning behind this year’s theme—United, Empowered, and Moving Forward/Unidos, Empoderados, y Siguiendo Hacia Adelante.
“Latin@ Pride has always worked towards uniting the organizations in Boston that serve the LGBTQ Community of Color,” said Paquin and Arevalo. “This is extremely important now because this is a time when legislation is being passed and taken under consideration for both the LGBTQ Community and Latin Community in the United States. The only way we can truly empower ourselves and move forward is by coming together. There’s always power in numbers.”
The two went on to share why it is important to have a special Latin@ Pride event.
“Queer Latinos in Boston need a place where they can come together with their community and allies,” Paquin and Arevalo said. “Unfortunately, the mainstream LGBTQ Community in Boston isn’t as inclusive as we would like it to be. Our music, language and culture are not highlighted or represented at social or academic LGBTQ events in Boston. The Latin@ Pride Committee exists to provide educational and social events for the greater Boston Latin@ LGBT community and allies. Our goal is to create a welcoming, supportive, inclusive environment for Latin@ LGBT people to gather, thrive, network and forge community connections.”
According to the co-chairs, they use the “@” symbol to be inclusive of all gender representations within the community. While they said the numbers at their events have been growing and they expect the same this year, the goal isn’t to fill the event to maximum capacity, but rather to provide a needed service for the LGBTQ Latino community in the Boston area. The event is a program of Boston Pride and also has a number of sponsors/supporters, including Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, The L.O.C.S. Collective, and If You Can Feel It, You Can Speak It Open Mic.
In addition to the Open Mic (September 24), this year’s festivities include the Latin@ Pride Kick Off Party & Pride Pageant (September 21), a panel discussion of Immigration in the Latin@ LGBQ/T Community, and several other parties and events. The co-chairs shared some of the specific issues particularly affecting LGBTQ Latin@ people.
“As LGBTQ Latinos, we experience all of the issues that Latinos face plus the issues that concern the LGBTQ Community overall,” said Paquin and Arevalo. “Immigration has always been an issue for Latinos, therefore we thought it was important to have a panel discussion focusing on our undocumented LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Education, documentation status and marriage rights are all topics that we hope to discuss with our panelists.”
The Latin@ Pride Community Awards Reception will be held September 21. Harry Collings will receive The Alianza Award—given to honor an organization or individual who has shown dedication and commitment to supporting the local Latin@ LGBTQ community—for providing a venue for LGBTQ Latin@s at Latin Night at Boston’s Rumor Night Club. The Solidaridad Award will be given to The Rainbow Times, TRT, for its support, collaboration and inclusive presence, and The Ejemplar Award will go to Javier Pagán for serving as a role model for the community.
“Any time you are honored for an award is such a great feeling,” said Boston Police Department openly gay GLBT Liaison/Community Service Officer Javier A. Pagán. “It has been important to advocate for all GLBT [people] because if those of us who can speak keep silent, then nothing changes.”
According to the award letter to TRT, the Latin@ Pride committee expressed that it “was in strong favor of giving this award to TRT because of its longstanding promotion of Latin@ Pride. Not only is TRT a Latino-owned and run business, you have given of your resources and time to ensure that the community is aware of our events and mission.”
“We are honored and humbled to be the recipient of the ‘Solidaridad’ Award and thank the committee for having selected us for it,” said Graysen Martínez Ocasio, Publisher of The Rainbow Times and a former recipient of the Latino GLBT Community Member Award 2010. “It is an honor not only to represent the Hispanic and LGBT community, but to also partner with community organizations that recognize the importance of the needs and the struggles that people of color in our community face.”
“I would like to just say that we are very proud of our Latin@ Pride Committee!” said Linda De Marco, president of Boston Pride. “They have given so much thought in the planning of this year’s celebration. Everyone in our community will be celebrating Latin@ Pride and experiencing the diversity of our community!”
For more information on Latin@ Pride, including a full list of events, times and locations, visit www.bostonpride.org/latinopride.
*Interviews with Pagán and Martínez Ocasio were conducted by Nicole Lashomb.