By Cambria Herrera
Content warning: mass shooting, hate crime
On June 12, 2016 I was at a nightclub in downtown Portland with a group of friends. I distinctly remember when the club closed at 2:00 AM, we walked out to the chaos of drunk, happy people looking for parked cars and Ubers. Some discussed where to go next, others continued dancing in the streets.
Only a few hours later I found out the terror that was occurring on the opposite side of the country at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida at that same time. I vividly imagined watching the people I was with that night experiencing the terror of a mass shooting, and as the day went on I felt so alone. The world seemed to keep spinning but the world I saw was crumbling. That could have been me. There were 49 of them. Each of them had a community with broken hearts. I craved to know, “Who is mourning this with me? What is being done to stop this hate?”
Fast forward to November 2016, when the man who had promised a world of borders and walls was elected by the majority of the U.S. as leader of the nation. I was left wondering the same questions again.
Fast forward to a rainy day in March 2017, when I found a hint of an answer at a PDX Latinx Pride planning committee meeting. I walked into a room and witnessed intersectionality at work.
Intersectionality is a word I’ve heard thrown around a lot recently. For years, I admittedly didn’t exactly know what it meant but I knew I was here for it.
We all volunteer our time and leadership abilities to make resources and events available to our community, but we also make time to be there for each other.
In April 2017, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website added intersectionality to their list of “Words We’re Watching.” As Merriam-Webster can best describe the word now, “It’s used to refer to the complex and cumulative way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.”
My inclinations were correct. I did know in theory what this word meant, but I’m a womxn of action, not a womxn of theory. It was only when I became a member of PDX Latinx Pride’s planning committee that I genuinely understood intersectionality, because I experienced it. What had once been merely a word of academia was now a noun and a verb; a person, place, thing, and action all in one.
On that rainy day in March, I entered a conversation on how an event specifically dedicated to LGBTQ Latinx folx could be inclusive of all ages and identities that represent this diverse community. Special acknowledgement was given to the challenges that would keep youth, the most vulnerable of our community, from attending an event. Multiple perspectives were represented in the room: queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, young, old, Costa Rican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan.
In the following months, the people in that room became family. Some have mentored and cared for me while others have danced and laughed with me. We all volunteer our time and leadership abilities to make resources and events available to our community, but we also make time to be there for each other.
As current committee member Samuel Isaias states it, “PDX Latinx Pride has been a source of community at a time when solitude can go deeply. I have been fascinated by the ease of familiarity the community has shown toward one another. I believe that the group does a great amount of healing for a community that is known by many, but often not acknowledged or celebrated.”
This healing has been taking place since 2006 when a group of friends with vision and heart partnered with El Hispanic News and Jupiter Hotel to organize the first festival, then called Portland Latino Gay Pride Festival.
In 2016, the decision was made to officially change the name to PDX Latinx Pride in an effort to be more inclusive. Former committee member, Marlon Jimenez Oviedo shares his experience at the first festival after the name change: “Last year’s PDX Latinx Pride Festival was the first time I ever attended any Pride—I had never had the courage or self-love to seek that kind of community. I was so full of orgullo and love afterwards.”
This year the festival theme was “Building Bridges Not Walls.” I will remember this theme for a long time, a testament to the year when I found family and intersectionality, when I thought I would only find walls.
For more information on the history and upcoming events of the organization visit PDXLatinxPride.org.