Jorge Zuniga is excited about where Orgullo has been, and where it’s going next. The organization, founded in 2016 by Baltazar de Anda, Christian Alejandro Real Merino, and Diego Campoverde Cisneros, began with the mission to create a place for the Latinx LGBT+ community in Dane County to thrive.
The group met regularly, marched in the annual Pride parade, and held other events to bring together queer Latinx people from the area. Last year, however, things fell mostly idle as people transitioned out of leadership and a regular meeting space couldn’t be found.
Happily, Zuniga says, that’s all changing.
“Orgullo was sleeping for a year. Now that Baltazar has been director of the Latino Academy, though, we hold meetings there. That’s pretty amazing.”
Currently, Orgullo is actively recruiting volunteers and members to help with its social media presence to help better spread the word and reach more people. They’re especially looking for help translating LGBTQ materials from English to Spanish. “Not too much exists right now that’s in Spanish,” Zuniga notes. That needs to change if the Latinx community, which is steadily growing in Dane County and elsewhere, is to be properly included in the movement to expand civil rights and equality.
Orgullo is working to create short videos that feature the experiences and testimony of Latinx LGBTQ people. Zuniga says they hope this will help dispel stigma within the Latinx community itself, and help people generally connect with the issues and needs of Latinx folks.
They also hold bi-monthly service provider trainings in the area, aimed at helping people in health care and community nonprofits serve LGBTQ clients and patients more effectively. In particular, Orgullo works to provide cultural competency to those in professional and nonprofit services, and within the Latinx community itself.
Orgullo will be participating in the OutReach Magic Pride Festival this August with a booth and some influence over making sure Latinx performers are represented on the stage.
“I really want this to take off and thrive in the community. I think it would be really impactful,” Zuniga says of Orgullo and its work.
“For me particularly, I self-identify as a gay Latinx first generation—both my parents are from Mexico. Most of my life I grew up in a fairly Catholic home where those values are heavily held…this culture of machismo is very rampant within the Latinx community,” he goes on. “Now in my adult life I realize there’s a lot of work yet to be done. Especially with Latinx people, I feel like there’s this saying that whatever happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. That’s so closed off from society and the acceptance of the other that’s happening elsewhere. Within our own community we could do more work on self-love and empowerment of being your true authentic self outside of the doors! Not just in the home.”
Zuniga and all those involved in Orgullo want it to be a place that creates community and provides a resource base for Latinx people, both those struggling with their identities and those who’ve already stepped out from behind those closed doors.
“Having a place where our complex identities are accepted and validated is so important,” Zuniga says.
The group meets monthly at the Latino Academy (1917 Lake Point Dr.) on the third Thursday of every month, at 6 p.m. Find out more by contacting them at [email protected]
“Every meeting has a different topic covered,” Zuniga says, “all sorts of things. They are fairly informal meetings, and are a great place to meet people and create community.” —Emily Mills