Victims of Orlando Shooting Memorialized in San Juan

A memorial made of six mosaic columns, each representing a stripe in the Rainbow LGBTQ flag, was dedicated to the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49, 23 of whom were Puerto Rican. The memorial was inaugurated on Sunday (June 26) at the entrance of the park, Parque del Tercer Milenio, in old San Juan during the capital’s 26th annual Pride parade.

According to Univision, the monument includes the names of the victims and a quote that reads: “May this tribute to life reinforce our commitment to combat hate and homophobia with love and respect. May our slogan resound in all hearts: Love is love is love is love…”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said, “We have to work together to eradicate discrimination and homophobia. We have to raise our voice for justice and equality. We have to aspire to be a country where we are equals and not judged for who we love.”

Featured Image by David Romero Mercado.

So, You Call Yourself an American? (PODCAST)

On the latest episode of In The Thick, The Futuro Media Group’s political podcast, host Maria Hinojosa and guests continue a conversation from the previous episode that dives into the question of what defines an American. The podcast welcomes back Verónica Bayetti Flores, freelance writer, and co-host of Radio Menea, and Julio Ricardo Varela, Political Editor for The Futuro Media Group, and previous In The Thick guest attorney, playwright and commentator Wajahat Ali. In this episode, the group discusses American values in light of the Orlando murders and the debate over gun rights.

For more In The Thick episodes, click here. You can also subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

Sabiduría: Your Sanctuaries

We asked our Latino USA listeners what makes them feel safe in their communities. One listener shared his love of singing in a Dallas-based choir. Plus, we heard from the owner of Oakland’s The Queer Gym, who spoke of going to her gym the morning after the Orlando tragedy to connect with gym members and offer emotional support.

Featured Image by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images

DJ Precolumbian’s Dream Dance Floor

Chaska Sofia, also known as DJ Precolumbian, is a party promoter and producer creating dream dance floors for queer and trans people of color. With a roving cast of queer DJs, performers and party producers, Sofia creates spaces and parties that center women just like her: black and brown, queer and trans, native and proud.

In this segment, DJ Precolumbian talks with us about what her dream party looks like, how dancing and trauma are connected and what it means to mourn Orlando while being brown, trans and queer.

Featured image by Shoog McDaniel

Carmen Carrera: I Want to Be Me

Carmen Carrera, a model, activist and reality TV star best known for being a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, talks about finding herself as a woman. Carrera was born a boy in a small town in New Jersey. She didn’t feel right growing up and pretended to be other people. Carrera experimented with different identities her whole life to find where she fit in and to be loved. Only recently did she find peace as her true self after transitioning to a woman. Next to Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, Carrera is considered a trailblazing transgender icon who many people admire for her resilience.

Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLSEN Respect Awards

A Father and Son on Coming Out

Luis Torres was 25 years old and married with two sons when he came out to his wife. A decade later, his son David came out as well. Luis is 51 now and David is 32. The father and son, who have a close relationship, sat down in David’s living room in Philadelphia to talk about what society expects of men, what it was like coming out and their experiences as gay Latino men.

Luis and David Torres were featured in The Gran Varones project. The Gran Varones, whose name is inspired by the 1980’s Willie Colon song about the relationship between a gay son and his machista father, was founded by Louis Ortiz Fonseca, an Afro-Boricua who felt there was an overly narrow media portrayal of what it means to be a Latino gay man. Ortiz Fonseca’s project of videos, photos and stories can be found at thegranvarones.com.

Featured image by Erika Beras

Julio Rivera and the Making of a Hate Crime

It was the hot and humid summer of 1990, and New York City was in the throes of the AIDS crisis. Homophobia was rampant.

On July 2, Julio Rivera, an openly gay man, was walking home late at night when he was attacked by three armed men near a schoolyard in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Rivera was hit in the head 14 times with the claw of a hammer and stabbed in his back. He dragged himself onto the sidewalk screaming for help and coincidentally was found by his former lover, who cradled him as they waited for help. He died a few hours later.

Police framed the incident as a drug deal gone wrong and refused to further the investigation.

Rivera’s murder brought different forces together and a coalition of family, friends, gay rights activists and community members was formed. The mobilization led to the arrest of the perpetrators and became the first case in the state of New York to be tried as a hate crime against a gay person.

Special thanks to filmmaker Richard Shpuntoff, for the archival audio and interview excerpts. His documentary, Julio of Jackson Heights, will be screening in New York this summer.

Featured image courtesy of Jenny Rivera

The Need for Queer Spaces

For Carmen Carrera, now a reality TV star and trans activist, exploring gay nightlife was an important step towards defining her identity. She dreamed of performing as a drag queen at gay clubs, like Pulse in Orlando—the same club where a tragic shooting killed 49 people on June 12. We also talk with a man who survived that terrifying night, meet people who lost friends in the Pulse shooting about what they’re doing to heal, and explore the importance of gay clubs as centers of the community.

Feature Image by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Maggie Freleng and Julia Shu also contributed to this story.

Security Tops Most Important Election Issue in Latest National Tracking Poll of Latino Voters

The latest New Latino Voice online tracking poll conducted by Florida International University and Hispanic advertising company Adsmovil reported that security is the most important 2016 election issue among Latino voters, the first time this issue topped the survey since the NLV tracking poll launched in April.

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FIU professor Eduardo A. Gamarra, one of the poll’s co-authors, attributed this latest finding to the June 12 shooting in Orlando.

“Most likely this is a result of the tragedy in Orlando that directly affected the Latino community,” Gamarra told Latino USA.

The poll also tracked Latino voter preferences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. According to the latest results, Clinton leads Trump with Latino voters by a margin of 58 points (75-17). About eight percent of voters chose Other. (Click here for previous stories about the NLV poll.)

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The June 13-19 survey asked 9,844 online Latinos the question about presidential preference and 4,815 online Latinos the question about the election’s most important issue. According to poll organizers, 200,000 Latinos have responded to the NLV poll since it was launched in April.

The latest toplines are below:

Supreme Court Blocks Obama Immigration Executive Order with 4-4 Tie

On Thursday morning the Supreme Court ruled 4-4 on an immigration executive order from President Barack Obama that would have offered temporary relief to millions of immigrants, upholding a lower court injunction against the plan.

However, the deadlock ruling in the case of United States v Texas, did not preclude the possibility of a future appeal if an Obama-appointed justice were to be added to the Court or after the 2016 presidential election, if Hillary Clinton were to be elected President.

The Court’s opinion contained just one sentence: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”

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In November of 2014, after the midterm elections, President Obama announced a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) executive order that would give temporary immigration relief and work permits to about five million undocumented immigrants, most of whom were parents of DREAMers or legal permanent residents. The order had also expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was announced by President Obama in 2012. The 2012 DACA program was not affected by this latest decision, just the expansion of it.

A few weeks after DAPA was announced, 24 states, led by Texas, sued the Obama administration.

On Thursday afternoon, the White House tweeted out a video clip of President Obama responding to the Court’s decision.