Friday, December 4, 2020

Connecticut Latino LGBT Conference Speaks on Openness

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Vilma Canales clearly remembers the day her son, Jorge, decided to tell her that he was attracted to men. It was late into 2011 and he had recently turned 18. Canales recalls the emotions that overwhelmed her after her son left the room in tears. Being a nurse, the single mother said she had seen news reports of gay teens who had taken their own lives due to not being accepted.

“When he told me, crying, ‘Mom, I’m gay…I didn’t know what to say … I felt sad. I felt disappointed. I felt all these feelings when, as a parent, you hear these things you have no clue about.” “I just ran after him and I grabbed him and said, ‘I love you no matter what,'” Canales said. “I would never change my son for anybody, and his happiness is my happiness. You’ve got to live your life and tell whoever you love who you are.”

D’Eso No Se Habla, or “We Don’t Talk About That,” was a conference held in Connecticut on Friday in recognition of the “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” tendency in culturally conservative Latino families that struggle to openly accept relatives who are LGBTQ, organizers said. Connecticut Latina/os Achieving Rights & Opportunities said it decided to put together the event after research they conducted showed that a large amount of Latinos in the community were supportive of the LGBTQ community, yet weren’t as open to speaking on the matter.

The state Department of Children and Families and the UConn School of Social Work cosponsered the inaugural event. Many other organizations, such as: the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, TD Bank and Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut helped provide funding. “Adolescence is such a difficult time anyway, under the best of circumstances,” DCF Deputy Commissioner Fernando Muniz said. “To not feel supported for being who you are is a terrible thing.”

Only a couple young adults showed up at D’Eso No Se Habla as well as a small amount of parents of LGBT youth, organizers said lack of transportation was one of the main reasons for the small turnout. Charlie Ortiz, president of CLARO’s board of directors, said he’d like to see the event become an annual tradition. “I wish, when I was growing up as a gay male, I had this opportunity,” said Ortiz, who is married to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. “Back in those days, this did not exist.”

Hartford Courant