Metro Weekly

Party with Purpose

LGBT Latinos celebrating heritage, educating on HIV/AIDS

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15, the Latino GLBT History Project, a local organization, is preparing to honor six activists at the fifth annual Hispanic LGBTQ Heritage Month reception, Friday, Oct. 15.

”This year we’re honoring six heroes who have made a lot of contributions in the community” says José Gutierrez, founder and president of the Latino GLBT History Project.

This year’s honorees are Ingrid Duran, Connie Utado, Peruvian performer Candy Wrapper, Luz Clarita, Augusto Paredes and Miguel Ayala.

The reception will also feature a black-and-white photo exhibit containing 80 Latino LGBT portraits by Kevin Kenner, the intent being to empower Latino youth by demonstrating visibility.

Organizers are also planning to recognize the Metropolitan Police Department’s Latino Liaison Unit, the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, and La Clinica del Pueblo’s youth drop-in center ”Mpodérate!” The reception is being co-organized with the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, and will be held at The Center, the area’s LGBT community center.

José Ramirez, youth program coordinator at La Clinica del Pueblo, says his organization will also be marking National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on Friday, Oct. 15, with a celebration.

”We’re going to have free HIV testing, we’re going to have workshops around HIV and AIDS, STDs. Then we’re also going to be having condom games, and we’re going to be creating a quilt with all the young people who come in. It’s going to be an AIDS quilt, [promoting] safe-sex messages and how to stay negative. We’re going to put those all together and hang it here at the Mpodérate! center.”

According to Ramirez, Mr. and Mrs. Mpodérate! — Edwin Lisama, who is gay, and Tanya Argujo, who is transgender — will be at the event.

”They’ve been king and queen for a year now, because every year we have a new king and queen and their role is to basically be the face of Mpodérate! and also to educate the queer Latino community around HIV and AIDS.”

The next Mpodérate! pageant is set for February 2011.

For more information about the Hispanic LGBTQ Heritage Month reception, running from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, at The Center, 1318 U St. NW, visit Mpodérate!’s event runs from 12 to 5 p.m. at 3055 Mount Pleasant St. NW. For details, call 202-462-4788 or visit