The 'Nuestras Raices/Our Roots' conference was held Saturday, Oct. 4, at DePaul University's Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield, with one of the highlights being a keynote address by Center on Halsted's Latino Services Coordinator Karen Rothstein-Pineda.
The meeting introduced and highlighted the history of four Latino LGBT organizations. Rothstein-Pineda expressed the need to create dialogue about past organizations, such as LLEGÓ, the national Latina/o LGBT organization that dissolved in 2004: 'I think it's important to ask why [ past organizations ] don't exist any more, figuring out where we are as a community and being able to ask for support.' Alicia Tellez-Vega addressed the issue of creating separate organiations within the LGBT community in order to meet unique needs. 'I always felt like I had to leave a part of me at the door. The female of me, the lesbian of me, the Latina in me,' she said. Tellez-Vega was able to find her niche at Amigas Latinas, where she currently serves as treasurer.
A recurring message throughout the four presentations was the importance of preserving local gay Latino history. In a moving speech, Association of Latino Men for Action President Julio Rodriguez ( Photo by Emmanuel Garcia ) talked about his experience marching in this year's Puerto Rican Parade: 'We were scared, we didn't know how the crowd was going to react. It was great to see the face of the kids and all the people we passed by. Friends who we knew couldn't or didn't have the courage to march alongside with us.' Organizers of the conference are planning on inviting other Latino/a organizations to participate in future panels.
The four organizations highlighted at this years conference were Amigas Latinas, Association of Latino Men for Action, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network and Orgullo en Accion.