Faced with a vacuum in leadership and concerned that our national voice as LGBT Latino leaders would be silenced, I quickly reached out to those people I knew who were working on Latino LGBT issues throughout the United States and asked them to join a dialogue on what LLEGO's shut down meant for the community and where to go from there.
At the time, LLEGO had been planning one of its bi-annual national conferences and had selected Seattle, Washington as the host city. Through the leadership of many and the collaboration of Entre Hermanos - a local Latino LGBT organization - we managed to draw a diverse number of people for a historic meeting that took place in September of 2004.
Though many of the leading activists were not able to make it to Seattle, I'd say that in such a short time we managed to get a pretty impressive group of people, including some who might not have been plugged into the national structure beforehand. There was also a palpable sense that there was a common interest in creating a new national entity - although it was still not clear whether it would take the shape of a national network or an actual organization. Additional conversations were had with participants of that year's Creating Change conference in St. Louis, Missouri to include the voices of additional ctivists who might not have heard about or been able to participate in the Seattle meeting.
Miami's Unity Coalition spearheaded and hosted a third meeting in the spring of 2005 during which an ad-hoc steering committee hammered out the nuts and bolts of what a new Latino LGBT organization would look like and do (details will emerge later through official communication from the organization). In Miami, we also selected the name UNID@S: The National Latino LGBT Human Rights Organization.
Up until then, we were working at an almost feverish pace. After Miami, the pace slowed down a bit. Over the years several people have stepped up to the plate to push the project forward and so it was that things picked up steam again last year and in November a call for candidates for the Board of Directors was sent out.
Elections just took place and today the elected officials were finally announced! Without further ado, the newly elected and founding Board of Directors of UNID@S: The National Latino LGBT Human Rights Organization is as follows:
- Yoseñio Lewis, West Region
- Gael Gundin Guevara, New York City
- Ada Conde Vidal, Puerto Rico
- Cristina Martínez, Texas
- Ruby Jade Corado, Washington, D.C.
- Sandra Telep, South East Region
- Pedro Julio Serrano, North East Region
- Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, South Central Region
- Jorge Alexandro Cestou, Mid West Region
- Wilfred Labiosa, Massachusetts
- Gabriel González, North Central Region