This blog post is a joint collaboration between: James J. García, Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED), Roberto L. Abreu, Co-chair of the National Latina/o Psychological Association Orgullo Latinx: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SIG and Division 45 Student Committee Co-liaison, & Laura P. Minero, Student Representative of the National Latina/o Psychological Association
Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog represent the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of APA, APAGS or NLPA.
Across the nation, many of our hearts were broken by the massacre of 49 LGBTQ+ individuals and 50+ wounded during Pride Month and “Latino night” at a nightclub in Orlando. As photographs and names of the victims began to pour in, it was undeniable that most of the LGBTQ+ victims (90%) were Latinx, mostly Puerto Rican and other Latinx backgrounds. We also know that some of the victims came from mixed status families or were undocumented themselves. These challenges add further complexity to the grief and trauma they (and their families) historically have, and will continue to, experience on a daily basis.
As reporters in popular news channels struggled to pronounce the last names of the victims, the racial and ethnic identities of the LGBTQ+ victims were ignored. Many reporters refused to utter the letters “LGBTQ;” comments such as “this is an attack on all of us” were used to generalize this issue to all Americans. Although these statements were meant to show support and solidarity, indeed it concerns all Americans, these messages felt invalidating as this attack was directed at LBGTQ+ people, particularly us the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. This points to a larger systemic and historic problem in the United States: the attempt to sanitize, strip away, and demonize Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ bodies from their identities via a system of oppression, power and privilege sustained by White supremacy, heterosexuality and cisgender identities.
Within the sociopolitical context, we are negatively stereotyped by the media as unsuccessful, a group of criminals, foreign born, and only Spanish-speaking. These stereotypes disregard us as a diverse group of people by ignoring the heterogeneity within our communities. The blatant ethnic gloss against us is not new nor is it the result of recent political rhetoric; rather, there is an extensive history of hostility, which perpetuates a failure to acknowledge our intersections as Latinx LGBTQ+. For those of us who identify as Latinx LGBTQ+, we cannot help but feel that we are being ignored while simultaneously being killed.
There are three points of discourse missing from the current media narrative:
- First, the sorrow of our Latinx LGBTQ+ community is being used to fuel hatred against the Muslim community and marginalize LGBTQ+ Muslims; however, our plights are similar, as we all live in survival mode to exist in a system that has set us up for disadvantage.
- Second, there is no mentioning of homophobia and heterosexism within the Latina/o community, which pushed us to create our own spaces where we can temporarily break free of the violence, prejudice and discrimination from our own familias.
- Lastly, the conversations seem to gloss over racism against LGBTQ+ people of color and those who are biracial/multiracial within the LGBTQ+ community.
Dauntingly, what can we do as psychologists-in-training?
- Break the silence
- Acknowledge the intersectionality of the victims
- Attend remembrance events
- Dismantle internalized homophobia and racism in the LGBTQ+ community
- Make an appointment to donate blood (many LGBTQ+ people cannot)
- Do not attack LGBTQ+ Muslims or Muslim allies, as they are also mourning
- Remember to take care of yourself: bathe, eat, exercise, take a break from news/social media, cry, and continue to socialize with friends and allies.
- Develop, create, and host healing spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color
- Advocate for a statement/comment from your Department/University
- Attend Pride and remembrance events as a Department
- If you can, vote
- Reach out to elected officials
- Speak up against homophobia in society-at-large and within the Latina/o community
- Support and join organizations that advocate for Latinx LGBT+ issues
- Join activists invested in social justice
Living at the intersection of Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ is to expect that you can be discarded at any time without getting the chance to exist in your own skin. To this end, we, as psychologists-in-training, need to continue having these conversations to effect change together and at different levels of our society.