it’s National Hispanic Heritage Month, and all month long, we’re going to be highlighting the stories of LGBTQ+ Hispanic heroes. From our own Director of It Gets Better Mexico Alex Orué (who incidentally recorded the first It Gets Better video in Spanish) to heroes like Chicano activist and filmmaker Ray Navarro, television icon Wilson Cruz and many more, take a look at some of the incredible names uplifting and representing the LGBTQ+ Hispanic community.
Ray Navarro was a gay Chicano, filmmaker, artist, and member of the AIDS advocacy group called ACT UP in the 1980’s. He co-founded ACT UP’s Latino caucus and founded DIVA TV, which staged performance art for ACT UP. In one of these notorious performances in 1989, Ray dressed up as Jesus Christ on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to protest the church’s views on homosexuality, safe sex education, and HIV/AIDS.
Ray passed away in 1990 when he was 26 from AIDS-related complications, but his legacy of activism and performance lives on – thank you, Ray, for speaking up for all of us!
Christina Hayworth was a Puerto Rican-American LGBTQ+ rights advocate and one of the first openly trans people living in Puerto Rico. After serving as a Colonel in the U.S. army, she was present at the Stonewall Riots as a vocal trans activist – and she appears alongside Sylvia Rivera in the historic first portrait of trans-Americans to hang in the Smithsonian Museum.
Always an activist, Christina helped organize Puerto Rico’s first Pride Parade, and became the Latin American ambassador for the Stonewall Riots Veteran Association. Thank you for using your power to organize, Christina!
Wilson Cruz is a Puerto Rican-American actor, known for his role as Ricky Vasquez on My So-Called Life – making him the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character in a leading role in an American TV series! Bravely ignoring advice from the industry to remain closeted, he intended to be open about his sexuality from the start of his career, going on play Angel in the musical Rent, HIV-positive Dr. Junito on Noah’s Arc, and Dr. Culber on Star Trek: Discovery!
But he does more than act: Wilson is a big advocate for LGBTQ+ youth of color, serving on the board at GLAAD and volunteering for LGBTQ+ youth groups. Thanks for choosing to be visible, Wilson!
Don’t miss out on all of our National Hispanic Heritage Month profiles. Visit us on Instagram through October 15 to read about other LGBTQ+ heroes.