We’re Proud to Support the LGBT Community

Members of the NCLR staff celebrate 2017 Pride.

Every June, people from around the world come together to celebrate the LGBT community and its contributions to our history. As an organization long committed to protecting Latinos, it is altogether fitting that we extend that support to our LGBT familia, which includes millions of Latinos. We are proud to join the chorus of voices that will be celebrating equality all month long.

At NCLR, we know and understand the power of familia well. Our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community are no doubt part of that great big family. For too long, our communities have been divided by forces that want to weaken our bonds. But we’re here to say we stand united.

Continue reading

In Harmony: Why Spirit Day Is Necessary

By Xorje Olivares, NCLR Blog guest contributor

XorjeOlivares

Xorje Olivares.

Waiting at the end of the long corridor that led to the exit of my junior high school band hall were Mario and his buddies. I knew them. Not well, though, considering we lived along the Texas-Mexico border in the type of small-town community where strangers were pretty much nonexistent. But I knew them. And I knew the sinister look on their faces. LGBT kids, particularly brown ones, know what I’m talking about. Very well, I’m sure.

As I approached them that fateful afternoon, my hands tightly gripping my backpack straps as a means of comfort, I quickly realized that I lacked a strategy. I also lacked supporters. Seriously, though—where were my friends? I had literally just seen them in the band hall, and they, too, were headed to their next class. Looking back on it, I should have told Mr. Martínez to work harder on accompaniments or how to play a second fiddle because it’s tough having to face the music alone.

Now even if my besties (all girls at the time) were to have shown up at the last minute to carry me away in a cloud of freshly applied powder, they wouldn’t have been able to save me from Mario’s impromptu two-second solo, sans trumpet. That day, his fast, vulgar mouth was his instrument.

Pinche maricón,” he said at me, slightly nodding to accent each word.

They hit me like a trombone slide to the back of the head. His buddies, now cackling in unison, barely moved away from the doorframe as I turned to walk out into the perceived safety of our general student population, my tears silently forming. Mario’s “solo” continued ringing in my ears that day despite repeated attempts to drown it out with better music. I think Linkin Park was still cool when I was in eighth grade.

Although I don’t remember the immediate aftermath of that performance, I can safely say that I’ve experienced the encore several times over the past 13 years. Mario’s use of that off-key, off-color remark forced me to confront parts of my identity that I had kept hidden away in my trumpet case for fear that my Tejano parents would find out and disapprove. I mean, in 2002, what Latino was out and proud? And no, the rumors about Juanga don’t count.

In all seriousness, I knew that more people laughed at “maricóns” than protected them. And I was already labeled by my classmates, who somehow learned that slur the same way I did: culturally.

I share this story because a lot has changed with regard to both LGBT acceptance and visibility in this country, especially within school settings, that today’s generation may take for granted. Not only are kids putting me to shame and coming out at far-younger ages than ever before, but their peers and loved ones are seemingly aware and completely understanding of what that process even means. I find that incredibly uplifting, though there are several areas where we must still seek improvement, including the Latino community’s historic reluctance to openly embrace its LGBT children. While I’ve been blessed to have had a supportive family, I admit that there are Latino households where issues of identity are a constant struggle.

nclrspiritdayBut as millions of Americans commemorate Spirit Day today, an annual event created in 2010 to highlight anti-LGBT bullying, it’s easy to see—and hear—how we’ve slowly but surely changed our once-hostile tune toward a minority group that desperately needs our attention. Society has thankfully started to recognize the plight of vulnerable youth, specifically those of varying sexual orientations and gender identities, and they have the purple shirts and online avatars to prove it. The best part is that countless Latino celebrities, newsmakers, and brands acknowledge the importance of participating in Spirit Day, and in turn, empower the same queer, brown youngsters who previously felt isolated by a lack of racial and ethnic representation in the media.

I know a lot has happened in my hometown since I met Mario at the end of that long corridor more than a decade ago. Both my father and sister teach at one of the local high schools and are currently witnessing the (key) change. Two years ago, students there elected a same-sex couple representing the then newly formed gay-straight alliance as their homecoming queens. Several of my sister’s kids also talk to her about queer-related issues since she makes no secret about her openly gay brother—you know, the one who also dealt with growing up beige and confused. In fact, her classroom is widely known as a safe space for LGBT students seeking guidance or empathy.

But I’d argue that it’s still somewhat difficult for Latino LGBT students, mostly because of the lingering stigma associated with homosexuality in a culture defined by machismo and, oftentimes, Catholicism. It’s also much harder to find out Latinos being portrayed in movies, music, and television today compared to other ethnicities. Believe me, it makes a huge difference since youth are constantly consuming various forms of media and use them as resources to better understand their complicated lives.

StaffSpiritDay

NCLR staffers show their support for Spirit Day 2015

Which is why wearing purple or changing the color of our profile pictures today matters. It’s our way of gently telling LGBT kids we see them and care for them. I guarantee you that such a gesture will be music to their ears.

 Xorje Olivares is a self-identified Tejano from Eagle Pass, Texas, with degrees in Mexican-American Studies and Broadcast Journalism from UT-Austin. He’s currently a writer, producer and radio personality living in New York City. His work has been featured on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, ABC News, OUT Magazine, and The Advocate.

NCLR Staffers Show Support for LGBT Youth on Spirit Day

GLAAD_Spirit_Day_InstagramToday is Spirit Day, and that means we’ve gone purple in support of LGBT youth and to take a stand against bullying. We’ve joined millions of people, organizations, and corporations across America in sporting purple because here at NCLR we believe all people deserve equal treatment and the right to be safe in their surroundings. When it comes to LGBT equality, especially, we see it as one part of the larger fight for civil rights, which we are engaged in every day. We’re proud to partner with GLAAD today and to call ourselves allies of the LGBT community because we know that when our communities work together, we become stronger.

Our staff is especially passionate about equality and many of them today expressed their solidarity by also wearing purple. We’ve included a sampling below of but a few of the many supportive staff members who believe wholeheartedly in LGBT equality and in the mission to defeat bullying in all forms.

Loading

#spiritday #minons @nclr

View on Instagram

Octavio Espinal, Associate Director, Office of the President, NCLR

Loading

NCLR Media Relations Specialist, Joe Rendeiro #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

NCLR Senior Manager, Digital, Jonathan Marrero

Loading

NCLR Digital Specialist, Barbara Moreno #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

NCLR Executive Administrative Assistant and Scheduler, Celia Gamboa #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

NCLR Communications Intern, Anna Suttorp #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

NCLR Communications Coordinator, Ricky Garza #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

NCLR Manager, Economic Policy Project, Catherine Singley Harvey

Loading

NCLR Action Fund Executive Director, Matthew McClellan #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

Loren McArthur, NCLR Deputy Director, Civic Engagement #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

NCLR New Media Manager, David Castillo #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

NCLR Communications Director, Julian Teixeira #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

The NCLR Los Angeles staff supports #LGBT youth! #SpiritDay

View on Instagram

Loading

NCLR Vice President, California Region, Delia de la Vara shows her support this #SpiritDay.

View on Instagram

So tell us: What does Spirit Day mean to you?

Why We’re All About Purple Today

Today is Spirit Day, and that means we’re joining thousands of people, organizations, and corporations throughout America in going purple to show our support for LGBT equality and our opposition to bullying.

For us, there is no question that the fight for LGBT equality is an integral part of the broader fight for civil rights, which is why we are proud to call ourselves allies of the LGBT community. We recognize that when our communities work in tandem, we become stronger and move forward together.

Members of the Latino community, however, already know this:

  • According to a 2012 Pew Hispanic Center report, 59% of Hispanics say that “homosexuality should be accepted by society.”
  • According to a 2010 Bendixen & Amandi International poll:
    • 80% of Latinos believe that gay people often face discrimination.
    • 83% of Latinos support housing and employment nondiscrimination protections.
    • 73% of Latinos support gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
    • 75% of Latinos support school policies to prevent the harassment and bullying of students who are or perceived to be gay.
    • 55% of Latinos (and 68% of Latino Catholics) say that being gay is morally acceptable.

Those are the numbers, but just who are these Latinos? Well, many of them include members of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) staff. Today we’re taking the opportunity to feature some of them. The folks below are but a sampling of the many supportive staff members who believe wholeheartedly in LGBT equality and the mission to defeat bullying in all forms..


I’m a proud LGBT ally because my best friend and her new wife make a beautiful family. –Maria Moser (she’s in the black suit on the left), Director of Education, Midwest, NCLR

Vanessa Belsito, Senior Associate, Corporate Relations, Resource Development, NCLR

Ruben Gonzales, Deputy Vice President, Resource Development, NCLR

Meet Maya (above) and Bobby (below), two of the LGBT community’s youngest supporters. They’re also the lovely children of our Director of Education, California & Far West, Feliza Ortiz-Licon.

Sherry San Miguel, Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator, Integrated Marketing and Events, NCLR


Naomi Sosa, Integrated Marketing and Events, NCLR

Samantha Ferm, Marketing & Outreach Manager, Integrated Marketing and Events, NCLR


Maria Fischer Millet, Senior Event and Meeting Planner, Integrated Marketing and Events, NCLR


David Castillo (left), New Media Manager, Communications, NCLR, and his partner, James G. Holmes.

Ellie Klerlein, Associate Director, Digital Organizing, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, NCLR


Octavio Espinal, Associate Director, Office of the President, NCLR

So tell us: What does Spirit Day mean to you?