By Beatriz Leyva-Cutler
Image originally uploaded to Flickr by FestivitiesMN
This week Miguel came to my office and put his arm around me. He asked me to please come and see his performance in 5 minutes. I came out and saw him dressed in a glittered short dress, wearing a very long blonde wig, and dancing in 4 inches platforms. He worked the platforms well. He sang and danced to pop music. He had an audience easily of 20 children, singing with him and applauding him. Needless to say, Miguel has a supportive community and audience in our program; all the children applauded him and congratulated on his performance and even took it upon themselves to cut pieces of paper and hand it out so they could ask for his autograph! Can you imagine how Miguel felt inside?
Teachers and youth workers in the program were all eager to support Miguel and amazed at how comfortable he felt to perform. How did we get here? Our staff have benefited from trainings by Somos Familia. We have learned how to talk with parents and children. We have learned how to create supportive and safe places for children who are defining their gender identity and building their comfort in being who they are. This is why Somos Familia is valuable to us, they helped us to see this as an important part of our work with children and they have made themselves available to our parents, who also need support and to reflect on what we can do together to create safe places for our children. Our staff talked with Miguel’s mother the day before and later that day we shared a picture of his performance, she was happy her son had this time.
I have been part of Somos Familia since its founding in 2007. Why am I involved with this particular organization? Well, Somos Familia is about supporting, accepting and celebrating Latina/o LGBTQ youth and their families. I got involved because two of our former parents Laurin and Mirna told me about their out sons, and their vision of creating an organization that supports Latino/a families with youth/children who are LGTBQ and I was then and still now, a supporter of this mission. Then in 2010 my own son came out to me, and I told him that he just made my community of family bigger because now beyond our families and community who are LGTBQ I have a personal reason to be a supporter and champion of Somos Familia.