Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Hispanic community and their supporters made waves last year. These publicly visible people, organizations and events helped bring awareness to the fact that LGBT people exist in the Hispanic community and want the same rights as everyone else. According to U.S. Census statistics, 4.3 percent of Hispanics in America identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This means that nearly one-and-a-half million Hispanics in the U.S. are a part of this community and are not always accepted by the traditional culture. Every time a Hispanic member of the LGBT community is visible in the public in a positive way or an organization makes an effort to be more inclusive, attitudes shift and acceptance becomes more of a reality.
- Maite Oronoz Rodriguez. Oronoz Rodriguez was appointed to the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico last year. She is openly gay and thanked her partner in her acceptance speech. The island has seen too many instances of crimes and violence against LGBT people, which makes this appointment especially important.
- The Spanish language network Univision made inclusion an important part of its message during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil last year. When the Mexican team participated in an anti-gay chant during the World Cup, Univision responded swiftly and effectively. The network commentators condemned the chant and extended a welcome invitation to all viewers, including those in the LGBT community.
- Telemundo and Ileanna Simancas. Not to be outdone by competitor Univision, Telemundo also did its part to be more inclusive and to help change attitudes in Hispanic cultures. The network aired a Pride segment, produced by Simancas. In the video, network executives and on-air talent talked about having and accepting LGBT family members. Morning show Un Nuevo Día aired the segment and discussed it on the talk show, encouraging families to accept and support their LGBT members.
- Celebrity news. Entertainment and celebrity news shows have long reported on the marriages and families of straight celebrities, but in 2014 we saw some important coverage of famous and beloved LGBT stars. TV Notas, Ventaneando and other Spanish language celebrity news shows featured the marriage of gay telenovela star Sebastian Ligarde to the same extent they would the marriage of any straight celebrity. Ligarde did his part, too, by being so open with his homosexuality, his marriage and his family.
- Los Tigres del Norte. Popular band Los Tigres del Norte debuted an important song last year called “era diferente” on its latest album, Realidades. The song is about a woman in love with another woman and emphasizes acceptance and openness.
- Silueta X. In Ecuador, this LGBT activist group saw a major success when the government agreed to sanction the network TVAmazonas. The station aired an episode of a sketch comedy series that included material offensive not only to the LGBT community, but also to native people in Ecuador.
- Carlos Bruce. A member of the Peruvian congress, Bruce came out last year as gay. This was a milestone for the conservative country, and he was the first government official to be openly gay. Bruce has also pushed for legal civil unions for gay couples. Bruce’s coming out is particularly brave in a country where violence against LGBT people is often extreme. He himself has experienced numerous death threats and continues the good fight.
The year 2014 was a promising one for Hispanic LGBT communities throughout the U.S. and Latin America. More exposure, more positive press, more inclusion and more wins for activists and individuals means greater rights, freedoms and acceptance for everyone.