ENLACE : Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Latino Lesbian and Gay Coalition Records : Digital Collection, 1991-1993
The 1987 March on Washington brought Latino lesbians and gays together from around the country and inspired new local, regional, and national organizations. ENLACE: Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Latino Gay & Lesbian Coalition, DC's first political support organization for Latino gay men and Latina lesbians, had just been formed and the March gave it the impetus to grow as a force in the local community. Some of those who had come to Washington for the March stayed on in the city and helped organize ENLACE: Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area Latino Gay & Lesbian Coalition.
Until 1987, Latinos had no special voice to speak for them as Latinos in the LGBT community and as gays and lesbians in the Latino community. Over the next eight years ENLACE spoke, acted, and created new standards in political and social representation of its members and in educating its community about HIV/AIDS. ENLACE members were the first gay men and lesbians to march in the city's annual Hispanic parade. They created HOLA GAY, the first Spanish language hotline.
"Un grupo de apoyo para latinos gay ofrece la oportunidad para los que buscan discutir las preocupaciones que tenemos en comun incluyendo el SIDA, la familia, el auto-estima, las relaciones personales y la identidad gay. Juntos podemos trabajar para encontar soluciones saludables con la asistencia de un moderador entrenado."
A peer support group allows gay Latinos to come together to discuss common issues of AIDS/HIV, family relationships, identity and self-esteem. Together, with the help of trained facilitators, we can find healthy solutions.
ENLACE defined itself as a political organization but it used social events to identify Latino gays and lesbians and to deliver its message of support.
In April 1988, ENLACE introduced itself to the community with a reception at the Office of Latino Affairs. From the outset, ENLACE (the word means "link") built coalitions and links to other organizations in both the gay and lesbian community and the Latino community. In the wake of disturbances in the Mount Pleasant area, ENLACE presented its own analysis and recommendations to the commission investigating the events. One of ENLACE's major contributions, of course, was its ground-breaking work in AIDS awareness and HIV education.
With the DC Coalition of Black Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals, ENLACE sponsored social events. It worked with the Latin American Task Force, the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and other social, political, and health organizations to ensure recognition and satisfaction of Latino gays and lesbians' needs.
ENLACE held its first social event, La Fiesta Tropical, at the popular straight disco Cities. Despite a slow start, the evening ended with a room packed with Latino men and women who learned for the first time of ENLACE's work. La Fiesta Tropical became an annual event. The group sponsored dances at Hill Haven, a lesbian club on Capitol Hill, at hotels in the Dupont area, and supported early Latino clubs such as El Faro.
Noticias de Enlace, a monthly newsletter, chronicled much of ENLACE's organizational, political, and social development and is a primary source for ENLACE's activities and for insights into the concerns of Washington, D.C.'s Latino gay and lesbian population.
The Rainbow History Project, through the kindness of former members of ENLACE presents many issues of the Noticias and event flyers (in .pdf format). Unfortunately, the file size of Noticias issues has meant that we have had to offer some of them page by page, rather than in their entirety. Also below are event flyers for ENLACE's social activities, as well as the group's report on the Mount Pleasant incidents.
We are grateful to Ms. Letitia Gomez for the loan of Enlace documents and for permission to post them on the Rainbow History Project's website.
- Gomez, Letitia. Owner