HRC San Antonio Steering Committee Member Ricardo Ramirez Shares His Story To Celebrate Latinx Heritage Month

by Ricardo Ramirez

Ricardo Ramírez (he/him/his) lives in San Antonio, Texas, and serves in the HRC San Antonio Steering Committee in the Board of Governors and as a Political Action Liaison and Community Engagement Liaison.

My name is Ricardo Ramírez, and I use he/him/el pronouns. Celebrating and honoring Latinx Heritage Month are important to me so I can help ensure that myths and misinformation about our community — including the Latinx LGBTQ+ community — are corrected. We need to uplift our community and celebrate ourselves for who we are and where we come from.

I was born and raised in a very small town in the southwest side of Puerto Rico named Guánica. There, I attended school until my senior year. Because I was and continue to be very passionate about highlighting my hometown’s history and promoting it as a destination to visit, it helped me to decide which career to pursue. In doing so, I could help support the economy and the growth of the region. Right after my high school graduation, I moved to Carolina, Puerto Rico to pursue my bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management.

While I remained passionate about assisting my hometown, that effort was blurred as soon as I began to find my true self. I knew coming out as gay was going to not only change my life, but the lives of many around me. The worst part was not able to live my authentic self as an openly gay man in my own culture. For that reason, in 2006, I moved to San Antonio, Texas.. I chose San Antonio because I had previously visited the city and fell in love with its culture, weather and economy — but, mostly, the hospitality.

I thought I would be accepted.

However, I quickly found out I was not just a gay man. I was a Latino gay cisgender man with an accent. I didn’t quite fit within the community. I was different. I needed to explain how I came to the U.S., why I had an accent when I was a U.S. citizen, why Puerto Ricans have their flags everywhere, how Puerto Rico isn’t the same as Cuba, why I speak with my hands, explain why I am so loud, and many other non-sensical questions about my culture and identity.

As a Puerto Rican, I have lived my entire life understanding my voice is the only tool I have to make myself seen and heard. With my experience, I knew that the only way to make a change was to join a group that would see me for who I am and have the same passion as I do to make change in policy. I first became involved with the Human Rights Campaign after being invited to volunteer at an event. I started to know more about the community and the organization. I became more involved and joined the San Antonio Steering Committee as a diversity and inclusion co-chair.

Being part of HRC gave me the opportunity to have a voice at the table. I have always understood that I am a minority and part of a minority group. Even when surrounded by a Latino community, my culture was missing. I was missing the traditions I knew only other Boricuas would understand. I had to do something to introduce my culture to the HRC San Antonio community in order for it to understand me more. I started to request music at events and made traditional dishes for potlucks, using them as a mechanism to open conversations.

Being part of HRC’s San Antonio Steering Committee has allowed me to celebrate who I am and celebrate my culture, during and beyond Latinx Heritage Month. We all can and must continue to find ways of celebrating our LGBTQ+ Latinx community, such as support our community by visiting LGBTQIA+ small businesses. Most importantly, we must celebrate and recognize our achievements and contributions to history.

In my free time, I love to go dancing. My favorite genre is Salsa. I have been dancing since I was a baby — my mother was the best teacher ever. However, nothing can be compared to spending time with my husband, Derek, in our home playing with our fur baby Phoebe. I have been with my husband for eight fabulous years and recently married him in November 2021.

This Latinx Heritage Month, it’s important to celebrate and honor all aspects of our LGBTQ+ Latinx lives, such as marriage equality. I encourage everyone, not just LGBTQ Latinx folks like myself, to continue fighting for everyone’s civil rights and everyone’s right to be themselves.