Despite rhetoric from some politicians who seek to sow divisions, Texas is a state with deep Latinx roots. By 2022, Latinx people are expected to become the largest population group in the state according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Going into the important 2020 election cycle, HRC is proud that we have three incredible Latinx advocates leading our work in the Lone Star State.
In their own words, HRC Texas staffers reflect on their journeys and what it means to be working for LGBTQ equality this Latinx Heritage Month.
Rebecca Marques, Texas State Director
The Pulse shooting had an enormous impact on how I approach this work as a Latinx lesbian. Some saw the shooting purely as an anti-LGBTQ attack, while others lamented the overwhelming loss of Latinx lives — and for me it was both.
Since then, I’ve learned that it’s just not enough to be visible in my queerness but also to be visible and vocal in my experience of being a first-generation American. LGBTQ Latinx people exist, and we are amazing! Leading an all- Latinx and queer team in Texas will undoubtedly be a highlight of my life for years to come. I’m excited about the work we are doing and the queer Latinx youth who will get to see us do it.
Criss Ruiz, Texas Regional Organizer
Nuyorican: A person of Puerto Rican descent, but born or living in New York City. It is considered a subculture of Puerto Rico — and this is the culture I most identify with, growing up in New York with my grandmother.
My grandmother raised me. I spent many days with her listening to her stories of Puerto Rico. Her eyes would light up, joyful and beautiful, and her memories are many and full of life. From the dancing and the music, she submerged us into the rich history of our fellow Boricuas. We would drink our coffee and eat our butter cookies from the blue tin and share her memories and her stories, hoping the day would never end.
My grandmother had the heart of Puerto Rico and the mind of a Nuyorican. She helped me define what it’s like to be a strong Borinquen. My family is made up of many fabulous and powerful Boricuas — and that is what is the most important of my heritage, what I find right to my heart as a person.
I am Boricua, I am Nuyorican and I am a lesbian.
Sissi Yado, Texas Field Manager
Where I’m from is at the core of my identity. I’m talking about the borderlands and the beautiful place known as the Rio Grande Valley (RGV for short).
Growing up in a small town in South Texas, it was common to cross the border to visit family, to go shopping for produce, go to the doctor and buy affordable medicine. Going to Mexico was essential to community and survival. One of my favorite things to do as a teen in the RGV was to spend weekends shopping at La Pulga (the flea market). I loved seeing strangers move, meet each other for the first time and carry on conversations like they’re family.
Being a queer, gender non-binary, Latinx person from a place that inherently straddles cultures and identities prepared me to come to my work with an open, resilient and humble heart. Coming from such a strong and resourceful community has taught me to dream bigger and shown me the power in uniting to fight injustice together.
At the end of the day, it’s about treating people I meet for the first time like family because we’re in this together.
For more information about HRC’s work in the Lone Star State, visit hrc.org/Texas.