As we close out Latinx Heritage Month – the annual month dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and lifting up the culture, history, and achievements of Latinx people – our team at the Campaign for Southern Equality connected with four great LGBTQ leaders in the South doing awesome work to advance the dignity and equality of LGBTQ people throughout the region. Meet these great leaders below!
Jonatan Guerrero-Ramirez (he/him/él) works at We Are Family, a Southern grassroots non-profit organization that provides affirming spaces for LGBTQI+ and ally youth up to the age of 24 through direct support, leadership development, and community engagement, where he runs their gender inclusive social enterprise, Closet Case Thrift Store. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, he has been a leader in the SC United for Justice & Equality team, which the Campaign for Southern Equality is also proud to be a part of. He is a proud DACA recipient.
Jonatan said: “To me Latinx Heritage Month means celebrating our history, cultures, and contributions our people have made. Growing up in Georgia I was scared to be different and to shied away from my culture and language. Today, I am proud of be a queer southern undocumented person who shows people that my immigration statues does not define my future and that we can go beyond our boundaries to thrive. This month reminds us to embrace our culture so that our history can live on for years to come!”
Yaz Mendez Nuñez and Rev. Alba Onofrio
Yaz Mendez Nuñez (they/them) – left – and Rev. Alba Onofrio (they/them) – right – are the Co-Executive Directors of Soulforce, an organization that works “end the religious and political oppression of LGBTQI people by decloaking the ideologies of Christian Supremacy and healing our communities’ spirits from weaponized religion.”
“Our work of sabotaging white Christian Supremacy in the South is in part about reshaping the story of this region that is so often framed in a black-and-white binary,” Yaz and Alba told the Campaign for Southern Equality. “We are queer Latinx mixed-race Southern troublemakers, and we aren’t ‘supposed’ to exist here because we don’t fit into a lot of the stories that get told about the South.”
They continued: “But we are very Southern: like kudzu, our people are not from here, but we antagonistically thrive here, and we are healing the South in the process of rooting in the land. It’s our fierce dedication to this region that inspires our work: to undermine the forces of weaponized Christianity that moralize violence against our people and keep us stuck in shame, fear, isolation, and burnout. If we do our job right as leaders, our work will help hone our collective resilience, bridge our movements across borders and binaries, and build power across our collective struggles.”
Susy Geronimo is the Director of Fuerza y Unión Múltiple, a community organization dedicated to supporting advocacy for LGBTQ people in Henderson, NC.
She said, “In this Latinx Heritage month it is valuable to see how through so many years our people, traditions, history, culture and essence continue to contribute to American culture, leading this nation to success in many ways. Every day we see more Latinx in different economic, social, labor, educational, political contexts, etc … and therefore and with equal opportunities we must continue to build a bright future, with hope, equal opportunities for families and the whole community. We continue in the struggle and the strength and unity will lead to our rights taking on more value and the struggle to continue.”
En Español: “En este mes de la Herencia Latinx es valioso ver cómo a través de tantos años nuestra gente, tradiciones, historia, cultura y esencia sigue contribuyendo a la cultura americana, llevando al éxito a esta nación en muchos aspectos. Cada día vemos más Latinx en diferentes contextos económicos, sociales, laborales, educativos, políticos, etc…y por ello y con la igual de oportunidades debemos seguir construyendo un futuro brillante, con esperanza, igualdad de oportunidades para las familias y toda la comunidad. Continuamos en la lucha y la fuerza y unión llevará a que nuestros derechos tomen más valor y la lucha continue.”