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Lavender Languages | 2016 Special Events

Roundtable: The Browning of Queer

Saturday, February 13, 2016
3:15 – 5:00 p.m.
Butler Board Room, 6th Floor, Butler Pavilion

Celebrating the publication of Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism.

Book Description (from University of Texas Press): In the last three decades of the twentieth century, LGBT Latinas/os faced several forms of discrimination. The greater Latino community did not often accept sexual minorities, and the mainstream LGBT movement expected everyone, regardless of their ethnic and racial background, to adhere to a specific set of priorities so as to accommodate a "unified" agenda. To disrupt the cycle of sexism, racism, and homophobia that they experienced, LGBT Latinas/os organized themselves on local, state, and national levels, forming communities in which they could fight for equal rights while simultaneously staying true to both their ethnic and sexual identities. Yet histories of LGBT activism in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s often reduce the role that Latinas/os played, resulting in misinformation, or ignore their work entirely, erasing them from history. Queer Brown Voices is the first book published to counter this trend, documenting the efforts of some of these LGBT Latina/o activists. Comprising essays and oral history interviews that present the experiences of fourteen activists across the United States and in Puerto Rico, the book offers a new perspective on the history of LGBT mobilization and activism. The activists discuss subjects that shed light not only on the organizations they helped to create and operate, but also on their broad-ranging experiences of being racialized and discriminated against, fighting for access to health care during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and struggling for awareness. 

What the session will do

Two of the three editors of the anthology (Gomez and Vidal-Ortiz) will discuss the process of completing the book, including the elements of requesting, selecting, organizing, editing, and publishing these powerful narratives –all of this in a 5 year process. They will center their discussion on the browning of queer, noting the issues of invisibility and inclusion in contemporary LGBT movements, but also discussing the similarities between Latinidad and queerness as constitutive elements of otherness in these stories. This will be an informal roundtable where the editors hope to engage in conversation with the attendees. 


Letitia "Leti" Gómez has been a Latina lesbian activist since joining the Gay Chicano Caucus in Houston in 1982. She served as president of ENLACE, the D.C. Metropolitan Coalition of Latino/a Lesbians and Gays. She was a co-founder of LLEGÓ, the first national Latina/o LGBT organization. She served as Executive Director of LLEGÓ from 1993-1995. Since the mid-1990's, she has served on the boards of DC Council on Women and AIDS, the National Gay Lesbian Health Foundation, Whitman-Walker Clinic, D.C. Latino/a LGBT History Project, Many Voices, La Trenza Leadership, as well as advisory boards of the Lesbian Services Program and the Rainbow History Project. 

Salvador Vidal-Ortiz (PhD), is associate professor of sociology at American University. His scholarship focuses on social issues of impact to LGBT people in the U.S. and abroad, with a recent Fulbright to conduct research among LGBT Colombians who have been internally displaced. He conducts qualitative research within and beyond his discipline, with research areas that include Race and Ethnicity, Migration, Transgender Studies, Gender and Sexuality in Santería (an Afro-Cuban religious-cultural practice), Queer Theory, Autoethnography/Personal Narratives, Body/Embodiment, Policy, and Cultural Studies on HIV/AIDS. As a scholar-activist for 25 years, he has contributed to NGOs like LLEGÓ, The Funding Exchange, and the Puerto Rico AIDS Foundation.