Adelyn Vigil lives in the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas, a community with a large Latinx population on the border of Mexico. The area is rich in Mexican culture and Adelyn, 13, is among many LGBTQ+ young people in the United States who also speak Spanish at home and school. Adelyn says she is proud of her family's roots in Mexican culture. As a Latinx and LGBTQ+ youth, Adelyn is at the intersection of living authentically as a trans teen child who celebrates and honors her Mexican roots.
“My Mexican heritage is something I am very proud of,” said Adelyn. “For me, being Latinx is part of my identity and everyday life. I love being able to speak Spanish and understand another culture. It’s part of who I am. Aside from being transgender, being Latinx is what I most identify with.”
Latinx Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, is a month-long celebration of Latinx cultural impact and contributions. It’s a time for Adelyn and many others to recognize the value that being Latinx has on personal lives and mainstream culture.
Adelyn’s mother, Adamalis Vigil, is on HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council. She, along with Adelyn, are proud of the intersectionality that comes with being part of LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities.
“Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month is one form of celebrating our diverse, often complex backgrounds,” said Adamalis Vigil. “There is joy in our cultura and there should be joy in celebrating and supporting our LGBTQ+ children. We are whole people living at intersections that shape us and teach us to stand up for those who continue to be marginalized today. Our family and community sees firsthand the legitimacy of Adelyn’s existence — something I wish all trans kids could have. It’s so important for children to know that they are loved and valued exactly as they are.”
To celebrate Latinx history and culture, HRC created an integrated campaign titled Latinx and Proud, which highlights the intersectionalities of living authentically as both Latinx and LGBTQ+ and celebrates the lives of LGBTQ+ Latinx folks while addressing some of the issues directly impacting them, such as health disparities and immigration. Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month is essential to HRC’s mission of fighting for LGBTQ+ equality, as Latinx folks have always been and will always be an essential part of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement. Latinx Heritage Month, and every month, provides the opportunity for everyone to celebrate and honor Latinx folks for their unique cultural contributions.
Latinx and Proud encompasses a unique and distinctive approach to the celebration of Latinx cultures, placing emphasis on the significance of quinceañeras, a popular traditional celebration in Latinx cultures traditionally taking place when a girl turns 15 years old. Our twist on quinceañera celebrations was dubbed queer quinceañera, a virtual opportunity for Latinx folks who didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate their own quinceañeras to do so through a queer lens. And celebrate they did — in lavish, flowing gowns, tiaras, elegant makeup and elaborate hairstyles. The queer quinceañera helped amplify the community’s unique voices and culture, allowing them to come into their own Latinx and queer power, an important aspect of everyone’s lives not always facilitated for Latinx queer folks.
“Considering that Latinx people account for more than half of the total U.S. population growth since 2010, and are expected to become the largest racial and ethnic group by a large margin over the next few decades," said Alberto Morales, HRC’s national press secretary for special projects. Investments in Latinx communities is not only the right thing to do, it is also a way to future-proof bottom lines.”
Latinx and Proud also exclusively debuted a compelling video featuring Adelyn’s story of celebration and struggle. The video was featured by Latina magazine, a prolific Latinx news and culture publication. In the video, Adelyn shares her experiences as a transgender Latinx youth while also spotlighting her Mexican heritage and background. Adelyn speaks to the challenges she faces as a Mexican-American transgender child living in a mostly Mexican-American community. The video acknowledges the challenges faced by not only Latinx transgender folks, but many Latinx LGBTQ+ folks. It also brings to the forefront the continued need to further the work HRC does in marginalized communities, including the LGBTQ+ Latinx community.
Latinx and Proud also celebrates Latinx historical LGBTQ+ figures who have significantly contributed to the fight for equality, such as Chavela Vargas, Sylvia Rivera and Pedro Zamora. The campaign also celebrates a partnership with Soñia Lazo, a talented LGBTQ+ artist from El Salvador whose work speaks to and celebrates Latinx identities and is featured as the cover for this issue of Equality magazine. The partnership helps to connect HRC with Latinx communities through the visual vehicle of graphic imagery, something many cultures, including Latinx cultures, value as a form of expression.
“To truly advocate for LGBTQ+ equality, we must recognize and celebrate the diverse identities of our community,” said Jay Brown, HRC’s senior vice president of programs, research and training. “Latinx and Proud is about celebrating the contributions of LGBTQ+ Latinx activists in our fight for liberation while also recognizing the intersecting challenges that LGBTQ+ Latinx people face today.”
Adamalis and Adelyn Vigil know these intersecting challenges all too well.
“As a family, we have faced discriminatory hurdles in school and the state of Texas,” said Adamalis Vigil. “Members of the community that don’t know us pass their own judgments because our experience is not their lived experience. It is painful to watch my daughter be forced to defend her humanity and dignity in school and in the Texas Legislature when those that know her cherish her exactly as she is. The discriminatory anti-transgender bills being proposed repeatedly in the Texas legislature are a physical and emotional drain on our family. But because of the support we have at home, seguimos en la lucha [we remain in the fight],” said Vigil.
Providing visibility to the challenges faced by any marginalized community is one of HRC’s most significant goals in order to ensure people like Adelyn can envision a bright and promising future for herself and members of her Latinx community.