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Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month in the Midlands

News 19 sits down with members of the LGBTQ+ community to talk about the significance of this month.
Credit: Crush Rush

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Latinx Heritage Month is about celebrating the contributions and achievements made by LGBTQ Latin people.

Jonaton Guerrero Ramirez remembers the moment he stepped onto American soil. "I came to America around the age of five, so early 2000," he says. "I remember crossing the border, and my mom told me, 'If somebody asks you questions, don't answer, say you can't speak yet.'"

He and his family established a life here, but he was undocumented. "I am different from other people. While other people were applying for colleges, I was applying for my DACA status."

All at the same time exploring his sexuality, "My parents actually told me to keep my status to myself, keep my sexuality to myself because they were scared for my safety."

A young man, living in a foreign county, with questions, he says it all took a mental toll.

Credit: JONATAN GUERRERO RAMIREZ

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"Anxiety of me going to school and trying to focus on school but also that thought at the back of my mind, that you can come and your parents will not be there because they could be deported, so that fear all lived in the back of my mind."

He says while his family accepted his sexuality, his culture didn't. "Growing up Hispanic, even now in Hispanic culture, a lot of queer people are pushed into the shadows because of the stigma around LGBTQ people."

Elizabeth Houck from Harriet Hancock Center Foundation, says more needs to be done to support Latin LGBTQ people. "When we tell these stories, they're not stories for simply of the telling of them, they're vulnerable stories more often than not. Ultimately we're trying to form understanding and connection at the end of the day," said Rosa Houck.

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She went on to say, "Access to affordable housing, access to jobs, secure jobs … access medical care that is safe and affordable ... the right to safely work, the right to out and proud, right to do so many things."

As for Jonatan, he's now working for "We are Family," a non-profit based in Charleston, which supports and provides services to LGBTQ youth and their families.

"Now, as I run Closet Case and I see some of our LGBTQ come for advice or tips how to land an internship or get a job, I can give them these tools or help empower them to get those tools," he said.

LatinX and Hispanic Heritage Month ends on October 15.