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Milestones in Gay History

In the past 50 years—particularly after the Stonewall riots—social, political, and cultural changes have improved the standing of LGBT people. Watch

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The Hispanic Struggle for LGBT Rights

Latino activists played a key role in the Stonewall Riots of 1969, but their fight for equality goes on.

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First gay rights parade after the Stonewall Riots. — Photo by: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

Challenges Ahead

LGBT Hispanics 50 and older also face additional obstacles: workplace discrimination, hate crimes, financial/inheritance laws, and the lack of health insurance. 

Where can older LGBT Hispanics go for help when so few services are tailored or welcoming to them? Language and cultural barriers already keep many LGBT Latinos from using services for the general public. Then, within their own culture, they face homophobia. "That’s why many Hispanic older LGBT don’t seek services," Cruz said. "They need services where they can openly be who they are and don’t have to hide."

With so little known about the needs of older LGBT Hispanics, Cruz hopes research might provide more answers. "It’s hard to develop programs [and] to advocate funding and legislation without data," she said. 

And it’s hard to reach the community without visibility, said Jose Gutierrez, who worked at LLEGO and founded the Latino GLBT History Project, which collects and preserves the history of the GLBT community in Washington, D.C., with plans to expand nationally. "Stonewall helped create more visibility for Hispanic LGBT people," he related. LGBT Hispanics need to remember the role they played in the movement, he said, both to remember the past and build momentum for the future: "It’s important to preserve our history so that new generations empower themselves to make greater positive changes within the community."

Stonewall’s milestone anniversary serves as a reminder that equality for all is not a given. As Puerto Rican author and activist Carlos Mock wrote after President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office: "We must all fight our fights. These next four years need to be when the rights of LGBTs become as inalienable as anyone else’s—when our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are as indisputable as anyone else’s."

Acosta, Cruz, and Gutierrez believe the spirit of Stonewall—and its impact—lives on every time someone takes a stand for equality.

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