The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

A Gay Librarian from Puerto Rico in Dallas, Texas trying to Create Change

I arrived to Dallas in the afternoon of Tuesday, February 2 sponsored by the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network to participate with 2,000 other LGBT folks in this invigorating conference.  Coming to 50 degree weather was not necessarily the best environment for a Puerto Rican that lives just three blocks from the beach, but this is an opportunity that I had to take advantage of.  No doubt the layers of clothing have kept me warm to network, learn, and participate in what I expected to be a growing and development opportunity for someone that works independently as a Consultant.  I am excited to share my experiences and observations as a gay Latino man that sees information as power.  As a Librarian, and via this opportunity to blog, I want to share my interests and perspectives on how to transfer all the knowledge from research, government, and large institutions I will be gathering during this conference to the community level, where the need is the most and where the action is needed to actually make a difference.

It all started with Finding our Kin Folk: People of Color Organizing Institute for New Activists on Wednesday, February 3rd.  At 39 yo, I still considered myself “new” on the role of activism and organizing.  This day-long institute allowed me to explore issues and realities of people of color (refers to African Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Native American/Alaska Natives and other non-white racial/ethnic groups) with other 30 participants, 26 of them, like me, were participating for the first time at Creating Change.  The institute began with individual introductions of participants and expressing the gender they identified with.  Do you prefer male or female pronouns?  It was really clear to me the intersection and realities of LGBT folks.  Pronouns do not define us as LGBT people.  We define the pronoun that we want to be identified with.  From the start that was an eye-opening experience.

We also discussed the recently signed Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made me think of Jorge S. Lopez Mercado, a young man fromPuerto Rico that was recently murdered in the mountain town of Cayey.  If it wasn’t for this newly enacted federal law, the local authorities in the Island would have made us believe that he asked for it for being dressed as a woman.  We saw a video on the realities of welfare, homelessness, and job discrimination issues among the LGBT community of New York City, and another video by Sista II Sista demanding no more violence against women.  Both videos presented the realities of LGBT people of color and the struggles that grassroots’ level groups endure to protect the wellbeing of my community.  At the end of this long-day institute, we merged with another session of intermediate level activists to share our interests and experiences via active scenarios of oppressive moments.  After presenting the live performances, we strategize on ways to interrupt these difficult situations and support the oppressed individual.  The interactions and the discussion made me ponder about my self-defined role as an Activist Librarian.  What does this mean to my work?  How do others perceive my work?  But at the end, a few people reminded me that librarians as a community have always been activists and agenda movers for a long long time.


February 5, 2010 - Posted by | Creating Change 2010, Puerto Rico

1 Comment »

  1. Loved the post.Thank you for sharing it.

    Comment by Stone | February 6, 2010 | Reply

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