Crossing Over: el documental que necesita tu ayuda

Brenda del Río es una mujer transgénero de Michoacán que trabaja en la organización Bienestar en East Los Angeles. En septiembre fuimos compañeros de un encuentro de GLAAD. Es una de las personas más fuertes y honestas que he conocido. Supongo que es el resultado de sobrevivir cirugías, discriminación y el duro proceso de migrar a un país donde no la tienes más fácil necesariamente.

Crossing Over es un documental de Isabel Castro que cuenta las historias de Brenda y otras mujeres como ella. Es un proyecto padrísimo que necesita apoyo para completar su posproducción.

Si estás en Nueva York este viernes 15 de febrero en la noche, acude a la fiesta de lanzamiento de su nueva campaña para reunir fondos en Rabbithole Studios (33 Washington Street, Brooklyn). Parte del dinero de esa noche servirá también para apoyar el trabajo de Immigration Equality, organización que defiende y promueve igualdad para migrantes LGBT en Estados Unidos.

Si no, puedes donar en línea.

crossing over fundraiser invite

Gracias a Donna D’Angelo por la información.


Reflexiones amateur sobre racismo y clasismo en comunidades LGBT

*Este texto se publicó originalmente en The Huffington Post.

El mes pasado estuve en Los Ángeles por primera vez. Fui a la segunda edición del National People of Color Media Institute de GLAAD, un proyecto que la organización lanzó para reunir a personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y transgénero de color que trabajan en diferentes temas y comunidades, permitir que compartan sus experiencias, e impulsar su potencial como defensores y voceros de esas comunidades. El objetivo de GLAAD con este instituto y con su programa Voices of Color, a cargo de Daryl Hannah, es que haya más rostros negros, latinos y asiáticos en nuestros diarios, revistas, blogs, programas de radio y televisión. Tuve el honor de ser el primer participante extranjero.

brenda monica enrique

Brenda del Río (Bienestar), Monica Trasandes (GLAAD) y Enrique Torre Molina.

El trabajo que GLAAD ha hecho durante casi 30 años para que los medios sean un espacio más inclusivo con personas LGBT (en Estados Unidos y cada vez más en otros lugares), y para que las historias LGBT tengan más presencia y poder en esos medios, no debe subestimarse. Sin embargo, las personas LGBT de color no tienen suficiente visibilidad en medios tradicionales. Yo diría que ni siquiera en medios LGBT. Veamos, por ejemplo, algunos personajes gays en series de televisión actuales: Louis en Partners, Kurt en Glee, Bryan en The New Normal, Cam y Mitch en Modern Family. Todos hombres blancos.

De acuerdo con el reporte de 2012 Opinión y Discurso Público sobre las Intersecciones de Asuntos LGBT y Raza, publicado por The Opportunity Agenda, los asuntos LGBT tienen pocas menciones en medios latinos en Estados Unidos, aunque la Proposición 8 de California en 2008 detonó una cobertura más amplia de asuntos LGBT en dichos medios. No sorprende, considerando la gran población de latinos en el estado. El reporte también señala que mucha de “la retórica, los insultos y el lenguaje despectivo anti-LGBT encontrados en este monitoreo de medios viene de comentarios de usuarios en línea, no de los medios como tales.” Cuando blogueaba para VivirMexico.com, era común recibir comentarios absurdos y homofóbicos como “Los jotos son una mierda de personas. Los jotos mismos tienen la culpa de que se les discrimine. Su forma de actuar es cagante y llega a ser en ocasiones irrespetuosa. Si son putos me vale madres, que se cojan entre ellos y punto, pero los amanerados me dan asco.”

Me cuesta trabajo traducir a nuestra experiencia en México el concepto de “personas de color” (“people of color“) con el peso y el significado que tiene. Raza y racismo no son temas presentes en los medios, mucho menos en conversaciones diarias fuera de la pantalla. Con frecuencia pensamos en México como una sociedad libre de racismo. Pero la discriminación más fuerte contra personas negras, por ejemplo, no es ignorar esa exclusión sino asumir que no existen aquí, excepto por uno que otro modelo en pasarelas de semanas de la moda. El Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (Conapred) ha investigado y difundido información sobre discriminación contra afrodescendientes. Fuera de eso, son prácticamente invisibles. De acuerdo con Jonathan Orozco, del área de comunicación de Conapred, no hay números oficiales sobre la comunidad afrodescendiente en México. Lo mismo que las personas LGBT, por cierto: no sabemos exactamente cuántos hay, en qué trabajan, dónde viven, etc.

Excepto por un par de piezas periodísticas o documentales sobre los muxes de Oaxaca, no recuerdo haber visto a nadie que sea LGBT e indígena en pantalla. Y no pronostico que suceda pronto, si incluso los cadeneros de algunos bares y antros gays son responsables de dejar fuera a personas con “apariencia indígena”.

He crecido en un contexto privilegiado, tuve un proceso de salir del clóset prácticamente libre de drama, tengo familiares gays y lesbianas, vivo en la única ciudad del país donde puedo casarme con mi novio, y aun así he experimentado una sociedad homofóbica. Apenas puedo imaginarme cómo son las cosas para alguien en el otro extremo del México racista y clasista.

¿Dónde están todas esas caras en las páginas de revistas, en anuncios de sitios de ligue por internet, en programas de televisión? Para un grupo que es blanco de tanta intolerancia, los medios LGBT podemos hacer un mejor trabajo abordando esos otros tipos de discriminación que existen al interior de nuestra comunidad.


An amateur’s reflection on racism, classism within LGBT communities

*This post was originally published on The Huffington Post‘s Gay Voices and Latino Voices.

Last month I was in Los Angeles for the first time. I attended GLAAD’s second edition of the National People of Color Media Institute, an awesome project GLAAD launched to bring together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people of color working on different issues and in different communities, have them share their experiences, and enhance their potential as advocates and spokespeople for those communities. The aim of GLAAD through this institute and their Voices of Color program, led by Daryl Hannah, is to bring more Black, Latino, and Asian faces to our newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio and television shows. I was honored to be the first non-U.S. resident who participated.

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Brenda del Rio from Bienestar, GLAAD’s Monica Trasandes, and Enrique Torre Molina.

The work GLAAD has done to make media a more inclusive space for LGBT people (in the U.S. and increasingly elsewhere), and to make LGBT stories more present and powerful in that media for almost 30 years, cannot be understated. However, LGBT people of color are not visible enough on mainstream media. And I would say not even on LGBT media. Look at, for example, gay characters who are on TV shows right now: Louis on Partners, Kurt on Glee, Bryan on The New Normal, Cam and Mitch on Modern Family. All white guys.

According to The Opportunity Agenda’s Public Opinion and Discourse on the Intersections of LGBT Issues and Race 2012 report, LGBT issues are under-reported in Latino media in the U.S., although California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 drove those media to have a wider coverage of LGBT issues. Not surprising, considering the large population of Latinos in the state. The report also points out that much “of the anti-LGBT rhetoric, slurs, and derogatory language found in this media scan come from users’ online comments, not from the media themselves.” When I blogged for VivirMexico.com, I would often get very homophobic, moronic comments from readers, such as “Fags are shitty people. Fags themselves are to be blamed of being discriminated against. Their attitude is annoying and some times disrespectful. If they’re fags I don’t care. Fuck with each other and that’s it, but the sissy ones are disgusting.”

I have a hard time translating the concept of “people of color” with all its heavy, powerful meaning to our experience in Mexico. Race and racism are not topics present on the media, much less on off-screen daily conversations. We often think of Mexico as a racism-free society. But the strongest form of discrimination against black people, for example, is not ignoring their exclusion but actually thinking there aren’t any here, except for the occasional model on a Mexico City fashion week runway. The National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred) has done research and spread information on discrimination against people of African descent. Other than that, they are practically invisible. According to Jonathan Orozco, a communication staffer at Conapred, there are no official numbers on the African descent community living in Mexico. Same goes for LGBTs, by the way: we don’t know exactly how many of us are there, working as what, living where, etc.

Except for a couple of pieces or documentaries on the muxes living in Oaxaca, I can’t recall seeing anyone who was LGBT and indigenous on screen. And I don’t foresee it happening any time soon, if even bouncers at some gay bars and clubs are responsible for leaving “indigenous-looking” people out.

Growing up in a privileged background, having a mostly harmless coming-out process, being surrounded by other gays and lesbians in my family, and living in the only city in the country where I can marry my boyfriend has let me experience a homophobic society. I can only imagine what things are like for someone on the other end of racist, classist Mexico.

Where are all those faces in the pages of gay magazines, on the ads of hookup websites, on TV shows? For a group that is such a target of bigotry, we as LGBT media could do a lot better to address those other types of exclusion happening within our community.


Gays latinos de L.A. en DF

Alejandro Aldana, Brian Pacheco y Carlos Gomez son tres chavos latinos gays de Los Ángeles que cuentan su historia en el docudrama Gay Latino L.A.: Coming of age, de Jonathan Menendez.

El Festival Mix de cine LGBT en la Ciudad de México lo incluyó en su programación y será el estreno mundial: lunes 2 de julio a las 18:00 horas en Cine Lido del Centro Cultural Bella Época (también conocido como Librería Rosario Castellanos del FCE), en Tamaulipas 202, colonia Condesa. Al final habrá espacio para preguntas y respuestas con Brian y Jonathan.

Aquí un mensaje de Jonathan:

Y aquí el trailer:

Más información en Twitter, Facebook y el sitio web oficial. Y si quieren ayudar a Brian a cubrir los gastos de su viaje, pueden hacer un donativo en este enlace.


GLAAD Media Awards

Each year the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) gives out a number of media awards to honor outstanding images and stories of LGBT people. Since they first began in 1990, they’ve become the single most prestigious recognition of its kind. In 2012, the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards were presented in ceremonies in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This last one just took place last weekend.

A few weeks ago I talked to Rich Ferraro, Director of Communications at the organization, about the awards and the organization’s influence in the media.

How did the GLAAD Media Awards start? What is their purpose?
GLAAD is an organization that works with the media to tell stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people. We work with a wide range of media from entertainment outlets, movie studios and TV networks to national news outlets in America, religious press, sports media, online media. We’ve seen that when people hear stories about LGBT people, and allies of LGBT people, they come to learn that LGBT people deserve the same opportunities as they do.

The GLAAD Media Awards honor those stories. They began with an awards ceremony in New York 23 years ago with just a handful of honorees, because LGBT issues were not so spoken about in the media, and certainly not spoken about in a positive way. We wanted a way to say you’re doing a good job, and we want others to follow. And now what we’ve seen is that the awards have become the most visible LGBT event in America, and likely around the world. We’ve had celebrities from Ricky Martin to Ellen Degeneres and Josh Hutcherson, star of The Hunger Games.

Can you tell me about the process of choosing honorees?
We have nominees in English and Spanish-language for a total of 35 categories including news, entertainment, TV, film, as well as some smaller parts of our culture like theatre, comic books, where stories of LGBT people are impacting our culture and creating change. GLAAD has a series of volunteer juries with expertise and with industry experience in all of these different areas. The juries come up with a pool of nominees with a termometer in the media year-round, whether it’s music artists who have used their recent albums to raise awareness on LGBT issues, or monitoring local news media.

GLAAD’s Board of Directors, staff and some of our major donors choose. They vote on the winners. The criteria for voting on the awards recipients is that they are fair, accurate and inclusive of our community, of the full diversity in the LGBT community, it should be original content, a news story that we haven’t heard before, tactful, reaching Americans and those around the world, and overall quality.

Ricky Martin, award winner.

There are three ceremonies. Is there a different set of categories or audience for each? Do they have different goals?
The goal of each ceremony is to provide a platform for celebrities and media outlets to talk about their support for LGBT people. It is also to honor public figures and media outlets who are doing an exemplary job. The GLAAD Media Awards have become an industry benchmark that a lot of different movie studios, production companies, newspapers and television networks strive for. They want this recognition. They want to know that they are doing a good job for our community.

The GLAAD Media Awards are also a fundraiser for GLAAD’s work year-round to tell stories of LGBT people. The awards in the three different cities are part of our fundraising. It’s also kind of a way for us to get in front of different communities around the country. In addition to the people who attend the events, each of these has a program with young adults, LGBT and their allies, who come to the awards for free through generous donations from our sponsors. They are able to interact with others like them, to say hello to celebrities who support them for who they are, and they get to see the show.

Do you think the GLAAD Media Awards somehow help push forward or enhance someone’s career, a certain media or show’s success?
I think what they’ve done is they’ve pushed celebrities, public figures and media to do a better and more proactive job at telling LGBT stories.

Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera, stars of “Glee” and this year’s hosts at the NYC ceremony.

Speaking of GLAAD’s work more generally, where does GLAAD draw the line between calling out on media’s unfair representation of LGBT people and issues, holding them accountable for their words and images, and making it seem as if GLAAD is maybe trying to censor the media?
More and more when we’re calling out celebrities or media outlets, we’re trying to do more than just get an apology. We’re trying to make it a teachable moment for our culture, and we’re trying to start a national dialogue.

Last year Tracy Morgan, a comedian and actor, made a joke in a standup routine that if his son was gay he would stab him. At GLAAD we hear stories when we work with organizations such as The Trevor Project, we know of the harm and what could happen to LGBT young people when their parents don’t accept them. We’ve also heard terrible stories about the violence that LGBT people face. What we wanted with Tracy was not to bully him into an apology, not to get a two-sentence press statement, but we wanted to use that as a way to really start a national dialogue about what it means when parents reject their LGBT kids, and the violence that LGBT people face.

We spoke with Tracy Morgan, we told him we wanted to take him to The Ali Forney Center, which is a homeless shelter for LGBTs in New York City. He went there with us, he met with young adults whose parents didn’t approve of who they were, and as a result these kids were turned away. Thankfully they had an organization such as The Ali Forney Center to welcome them.

Tracy then spoke with the media and told his fans, who are people that maybe wouldn’t generally hear of this, about why they should accept LGBT people. They heard from someone they admire and from someone whose career they follow that the right thing to do is to accept your kids no matter what. We also worked with teens at The Ali Forney Center to get them to talk about their own stories in the press. After they met with Tracy they went to The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, MTV News, to some really powerful and international news publications so they could talk, not only about meeting with Tracy but also about their own personal stories.

More and more we’re really trying to push the envelopes. It’s not so much about GLAAD versus the media. It’s about GLAAD telling a wider story.

You can follow Rich Ferraro and GLAAD on Twitter, learn more about GLAAD Media Awards and this year’s honorees here, and read about a project I collaborate with on GLAAD’s blog.


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