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Just Happens to Be LGBT: New LULAC Chapter Focuses on LGBT Latina/os

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Founding members Sam Aguilera and Robert Salcido with first member Rosa Maria “Rosie” Gonzalez at LGBT LULAC’s first recruiting event

Although Latinos and Latinas have come a long way in the history of this country (and this city), we’re not a monolithic culture. In fact, we’re as diverse as any other culture, and face challenges internally as well as externally. As with any group, there’s a unique set of circumstances that LGBT Latinos face.

Whether you’re talking about Latino machismo, the essential (and sometimes maddening?) role of the family, immigration issues, or educational attainment, the ante is often upped when it comes to civil rights and even simple acceptance. But it’s not about special treatment—it’s simply about the added complexity of multiple identities.

Esmeralda Zuniga tells me, “As lesbian and Latina, it can be a double whammy. Sometimes you have to work double- or triple-hard to be considered half as good, at least in the eyes of some people. And even then, you’re not always equal.” Zuniga was recently elected secretary of San Antonio’s newest League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council—one that is distinctly formed to engage and support LGBT Latinos in San Antonio. The group just organized formally last month and is in the process of being chartered.

Zuniga moved to San Antonio from the Valley about a year ago with her partner, Sylvia Garza, and their daughters. After searching for a local organization to be involved with, she’s excited at the prospect of how the group can help others to see LGBT rights as a natural progression in the advancement of civil rights.

LULAC has over 900 councils nationwide (with more than 100 councils in San Antonio alone). Founded in 1929, LULAC calls itself the oldest and most widely respected Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States. Councils often “hold voter registration drives, citizenship awareness sessions, sponsor health fairs and tutorial programs and raise scholarship money,” according to the organization website. LULAC is non-partisan.

The immediate past president, Rosa Rosales, and current president, Margaret Moran, are both from San Antonio. Rosales marched as grand marshal of the San Antonio Pride Parade and Block Party in 2010.

Sam Aguilera, the prospective president of SA’s LGBT LULAC council, is also the man responsible for bringing the local group together. “We’re in the process of chartering our council to become a 501(c)4 nonprofit, a civil league operating exclusively for the promotion of the common good and general welfare of the Latino community, including LGBT Latinas and their families.”

“As president,” Aguilera continues, “I would like the council to work on promoting acceptance of LGBT family members. This includes working with Spanish-speaking families and community members seeking to build a greater understanding of the LGBT community.”

An LGBT council is not new for LULAC. In 2006, the national office approved the charter for the Dallas Rainbow Council #4871. Aguilera invited officers and members of the Dallas group to visit here in December 2013 to network, share their experiences and build the case for a local chapter.

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