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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Latin Summit Attracts Youth Activists
by Amy Wooten
2006-03-15

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Pictured Orgullo en Acción boared members. Lambda Legal's Mona Noriega and Julie Rodreguez of ALMA. Photos by Amy Wooten.

Orgullo en Acción held its first LGBT Leadership Summit last weekend, attracting a surprising amount of young activists.

The summit, which featured prominent Latino community members such as Amigas Latinas' Evette Cardona and Equality Illinois' Rick Garcia, was held March 11 in Humbolt Park. The speakers covered a wide range of issues from the basics of organizing to agency longevity. Orgullo en Acción is a group of Latino LGBTQQ community members united in working for political and social change.

As Cardona told the audience how Amigas Latinas has been able to thrive for 10 years, she noted how many young individuals were in the audience. 'We need young people to help us organize the youth,' she said about Amigas Latinas. Audience members agreed that Latino LGBTs need to come together across generations.

When audience members voiced their desire to create their own groups, both Cardona and ALMA's Julio Rodriguez urged them to 'go for it.' Rodriguez, however, reminded those present that it is a great responsibility to be in a leadership position of an organization, and all groups are inherently political.

'You want to be able to say 'We did great things and our reputation is intact,'' he said. Rodriguez added that if an organization does not maintain its reputation, it creates a fear in others to start something of their own. Organizations and boards, he said, need to constantly step back and evaluate themselves.

Like Cardona, Rodriguez said that there is a great need to 'build leadership at both ends,' creating leaders both young and old.

Lambda Legal's Mona Noriega spoke about the importance of Latino LGBTs being involved in all areas of the law, including adoption and marriage rights. 'Why does this matter to Latinos?' she asked. 'This society is based on freedom and equality for all. ... We are a very idealistic society, and we have a right to do that, whether we are gay or whether we are Latino, we demand that.'

Garcia came to the summit to speak about the importance of lobbying, and what a 'legislatively exciting' year it has been. As he shared his stories of helping pass the amendment to the Human Rights Act, Garcia stressed the importance of Latino LGBT organizations knowing the 'rules of the game.'

'We have to know the rules of the game,' he said. 'We have to play by the rules and play better than our opponents.'


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