Every year since Acner Camino moved to the United States in 2015, he’s found a new reason to be active in the queer Latinx community in Portland.
Last year it was the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, which left nearly 50 people dead and another 60 wounded. The shooting happened on Latin Night at Pulse, and many of the victims were both queer and Latino.
This year, he said, it was the election of President Donald Trump.
Soon after, it was the
, which happened after a man began yelling hate speech at two young women. One of them was wearing a hijab.
“I don’t know if it will always be like that — if it’s our destiny to be fighting every single year for a different reason,” Camino said.
But Camino said he's not afraid. PDX Latinx Pride, which kicked off Friday night, proves it, he said. The event adopted its new name last year from "Portland Latino Gay Pride" to a gender-neutral alternative, "Latinx."
“We can’t keep quiet and be invisible,” Camino said. “We need to show what we do and we need to display our culture, which is beautiful.”
Yet Camino still feels a sense of vigilance. Security will be present at the Latinx Pride Festival Saturday, a precaution Camino acknowledged wouldn't have been necessary had the event not been explicitly Latinx and LGBTQ.
Still, for Portland’s queer Latinx community, PDX Latinx Pride offers a uniquely intersectional space that’s often hard to find in one of America’s whitest cities.
That was the case for Omar Ramos, a volunteer who helped plan the weekend’s events. He said there’s a tendency in the gay community to ignore issues of race, making it difficult to feel fully understood.
“I could be in a group of a bunch of gay people and enjoy myself and have fun, but part of it is putting your race in the closet, in a box, and not having to deal with that,” Ramos said.
Then, he said, there’s his other identity.
“I might find a Hispanic organization or a Latino group, but it may not necessarily be LGBTQ, or even LGBTQ-friendly — with the culture of machismo,” he said.
“Knowing this organization is Latinx and pride is more comforting. The intersectionality is where those two Venn diagrams meet.”
The theme of this year’s Latinx Pride is “Building Bridges, Not Walls,” which organizers say directly addresses the political climate.
But it’s also a nod to their attempt to build bridges beyond Latino and queer communities.
“We are asked many times to integrate to what already exists here,” Camino said. “I think to some extent that’s fair. It’s also fair that if you want a cohesive society that is not fighting, groups against groups, that everyone integrates to everybody.”
The opening event called “Noche De Arte” featured local musicians and artists. They shared stories, not just about queer identities, but about what it means to be brown in Portland. The event explored themes of assimilation, internalized racism, body positivity and cultural identity.
PDX Latinx Pride takes place Friday, July 21 through Sunday, July 23.