Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.During National Hispanic Heritage Month(September 15 to October 15) we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.
The term Hispanic or Latino, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. On the 2010 Census form, people of Spanish, Hispanic and/or Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”
According to this Census, 50.5 million people or 16% of the population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase from 2000, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million or 13% of the total U.S. population.
Lupe Valdez (born October 11, 1947) is an American law enforcement official who is currently the Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas.
Born to migrant farm worker parents, she was raised in San Antonio as the youngest of seven children. She started life working in the fields, but paid her way through college, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. She then earned a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Prior to entering law enforcement, Lupe Valdez was an officer in the United States Army. During her time in the Army, she attained the rank of Captain.
Her law enforcement career began as a jailer, first in a county jail and then a federal prison. She then moved on to investigative roles as an agent of the General Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and, finally, the U.S. Customs Service where she was a leader in the federal Counter Smuggling Initiative. With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, she was made a Senior Agent, serving in that role until her retirement in 2004. In January 2004, Lupe Valdez retired to run for the office of Dallas County Sheriff.
On January 2, 2004, Lupe Valdez announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Sheriff. During the primary election, she faced three opponents, and finished as the highest vote-getter with 13,867 votes. She subsequently won a run-off election against future Dallas County Judge Jim Foster. Valdez won 73% of the vote in the run-off.
As she entered the general campaign, Valdez was widely considered the underdog in her general election race against Republican Danny Chandler. Chandler, a 30-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, had defeated incumbent Sheriff Jim Bowles in the Republican primary. Bowles, who was tainted by corruption allegations, had held the office for 20 years.
The general election saw Valdez beat Chandler by 51.3% to 48.7% – a margin of some 18,000 votes. The election, combined with the fact that Valdez is female, Hispanic and a lesbian, made national headlines and was even reported overseas.
On November 4, 2008, Lupe Valdez was re-elected Sheriff of Dallas County with 388,327 votes to Lowell Cannaday’s 322,808 votes, a margin of roughly 65,500. Valdez received over 99,000 more votes than the heterosexual Democratic” option. She won in precincts across Dallas County, including formerly Republican areas including Valley Ranch in Irving and Mesquite. Her opponent won most precincts in far North Dallas, Richardson, Coppell, and the southern part of Irving. She began her second four-year term on January 1, 2009.
In 2010, the Dallas County Jails passed inspection by the State of Texas for the first time since 2003. Completion of a new jail facility in 2009 and continued investment from Dallas County were cited as steps towards re-certification of the Dallas County jail system, which passed inspection once again in 2011.
Also in 2010, Sheriff Valdez was elected to the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by President Barack Obama to a committee regarding immigration reform.
In November, 2012, Valdez won a third term, defeating Republican challenger Kirk Launius. She also announced in 2015 that she would be seeking a fourth term in 2016.
Camilo Arenivar (born June 2, 1967) is a founding member of the Los Angeles-based POZ Power Coalition, part of The Wall-Las Memorias Project. Since 2007 he has been Quality Assurance Engineer at Entertainment Partners. Additional work included creation of the now defunct LGBT Hip Hop website, It is now become what Arenivar calls “a ditigal archive” OutHipHop.com. He was the organizer and tour manager for the HomoRevolution Tour, the first ever organized road tour of LGBT hip hop artists which traveled to 10 cities in the southwestern United States. In 2009, he launched Big Milo Records, the first independent record label geared toward LGBT Hip Hop with distribution, the site is now defunct.
Arenivar has managed gay rappers such as Deadlee and Latino hip hop group, Salvimex, Tori Fixx in the past. Arenivar is passionate about his efforts, largely in part to integrate mainstream rap and hip hop into gay culture and vice versa, to show that there is a significant audience in the LGBT community and to prove that said mainstream genre is not limited to the so-called “haters” (typically homophobics).
Arenivar grew up in Pittsburg, California, USA.
Iyari Pérez Limón (born July 8, 1976) is an American actress, best known for her supporting role as Potential Slayer Kennedy on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Limón was born in Guadalajara, California, US, USA, ), UA on July 8, 1976. She moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of one, and grew up in Southern California.
Limón has appeared in numerous TV commercials, both in Spanish and English. Among her credits are commercials for Toyota, Dr Pepper, and Always.
During her screen test for the part of Carmen in The L Word, Limón ad libbed a Spanish phrase into Kate Moennig’s ear (“Quiero lamerte hasta que te vengas en mi boca mil veces” – “I want to lick you until you come in my mouth a thousand times”). The phrase was written into the show, and later used in the series by Sarah Shahi’s Carmen. Limón played Clovis Galletta in the 2011 video game, L.A. Noire.
Limón came out as bisexual in an interview with the website AfterEllen.com in April 2006, in which she stated that she was once married to Napoleon Dynamite actor Efren Ramirez and was, at the time of the interview, dating DJane Sandra Edge. In September 2007, AfterEllen.com further reported that Limon and Edge had ended their relationship, and that Limon was pregnant by her boyfriend Alejandro Soltero. Limon married Alejandro Soltero and their daughter was born on August 24, 2007.
Michael Angel Nava (born September 16, 1954 in Stockton, California) is an American attorney and writer. He has worked on the staff for the California Supreme Court, and ran for a Superior Court position in 2010. He authored a seven-volume mystery series featuring Henry Rios, an openly gay protagonist who is a criminal defense lawyer. His novels have received six Lambda Literary Awards and critical acclaim in the GLBT and Latino communities.
Nava grew up in Gardenland, a predominantly working-class Mexican neighborhood in Sacramento, California that he described as “not as an American suburb at all, but rather as a Mexican village, transported perhaps from Guanajuato, where my grandmother’s family originated, and set down lock, stock and chicken coop in the middle of California.” His maternal family settled there in 1920 after escaping from the Mexican Revolution. Nava’s grandmother was an “influential force” whose “piety and humility that was highlighted by her Catholic beliefs.”
At 12 years old, he started writing and it was also around that time he recognized that he was gay. He was the first person in his family to go to college; he attended Colorado College and “acquired a special affinity for literature and writing.”[ He joined a group of young poets that included writer and humorist David Owen and the poet David Mason. He graduated in 1976 cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History.
Nava received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and spent the following year in Buenos Aires and Madrid where he worked on translations of works by Spanish-American poet Rubén Darío. After returning, he considered graduate education in English or History. He enrolled in Stanford Law School, and received his J.D. in 1981.
Nava worked in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, where he was a deputy attorney and prosecutor on about 50 jury trials. In 1985, he became an associate at the appellate boutique firm Horvitz & Levy, located in Encino, California.] He then served as a judicial staff attorney for Arleigh Woods, the first female African-American appellate court justice in California, from 1986-1995. One of the cases he worked on was Jasperson v. Jessica’s Nail Clinic in 1989, which resulted in the first published decision to uphold an HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination statute.
After Woods retired, Nava moved back to Northern California and settled in San Francisco. In 1999, he joined the staff of the California Supreme Court. In 2004, he became a judicial attorney for Carlos R. Moreno, who was the third Latino to ever sit on the California Supreme Court. Nava said “Judicial attorneys and law clerks can have a huge influence in shaping the direction of the law, but there are very few attorneys of color in those positions because they are mostly filled through the Old Boys Network. We need to establish our own network.”
From 2007 to 2009, he was a member of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness, which advises the State Bar’s board of governors on diversity issues. In 2008, he wrote The Servant of All: Humility, Humanity, and Judicial Diversity, a law review article where he put forth the case for judicial diversity.
In 2010, Nava ran for Seat 15 of the San Francisco Superior Court. In the June election, he received a plurality of the votes, but the position required a majority. In the November run-off election with incumbent Richard Ulmer, he received 87,511 votes (46.83%) compared to Ulmer’s 99,342 (53.17%).
After graduating from Stanford Law School, Nava began writing his first novel. The Little Death features Henry Rios, an openly gay Latino criminal defense lawyer who worked in Los Angeles. He was inspired to create Rios because of a comment by author Toni Morrison about writing books that she could have read when she was growing up. After the novel was rejected by thirteen publishers, it was picked up by Alyson Books, and published in 1986. His follow-up novel, Goldenboy, published in 1988, received critical acclaim by the New York Times which called him a “brilliant storyteller.” From 1990-2000, Nava wrote five more Henry Rios books: How Town, The Hidden Law, The Death of Friends, The Burning Plain, and Rag and Bone. He received six Lambda Literary Awards. In 2001, he was awarded the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle, a GLBT professional group within the publishing industry.
In 1994, he co-authored the book Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America.
After not having written any new novels since 2000, Nava announced in 2008 that he has drafted a new work, The Children of Eve, which was set in the Mexican Revolution. He based one of the main characters on his grandfather. The Children of Eve would later be redone as a quartet of historical fiction novels; the first book would be titled The City of Palaces.
In October 2008, Nava married his partner George Herzog, an oncology nurse at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in San Francisco. California Supreme Court justice Carlos R. Moreno presided over the ceremony. They live in Daly City, California.
Carmen Carrera (born April 13, 1985) is an American reality television personality, model, burlesque performer, and actress, known for appearing on the third season of the Logo reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as its spin-off series RuPaul’s Drag U. Although she presented as male during the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, on May 1, 2012, ABC News reported that Carrera is a transgender woman.
The November 2011 issue of W featured a series of fictional products in realistically styled advertisements as part of an issue-wide art project. Carrera was featured in the series as the face for the fictional fragrance La Femme. In 2011, Carrera, along with third seasonDrag Race contestants Manila Luzon and Shangela Laquifa Wadley, appeared in a television commercial for the travel-related website Orbitz.
Carrera has also been active in AIDS awareness and activism. After being featured in aGilead Sciences ad entitled “Red Ribbon Runway” with fellow Drag Race co-stars Manila Luzon, Delta Work, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and Alexis Mateo, the dress she wore was auctioned by Logo in commemoration of World AIDS Day. Proceeds from the auction were donated to the National Association of People with AIDS.
Carrera appeared as a “drag professor” in two episodes of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag U. In the episode “80s Ladies,” she gave singer Stacey Q a confidence-boosting makeover.
In an episode of the ABC news program Primetime: What Would You Do? that aired on May 4, 2012, Carrera portrayed the role of a transgender server working in a New Jersey diner. An actor playing a customer berates Carrera’s character regarding his past experience of being served by her when she had presented as male, prompting other customers to come to Carrera’s defense. This program also marked the first occasion in which Carrera publicly revealed herself to be transgender.
In 2014, Carrera was included as part of the Advocate’s annual “40 under 40” list and made a cameo appearance on Jane the Virgin’s premier episode.
Also in 2014, Carrera was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with 13 other transgender women: Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Geena Rocero, Isis King, Gisele Alicea, Leyna Ramous, Dina Marie, Nina Poon, Juliana Huxtable, Niki M’nray, Pêche Di, Carmen Xtravaganza and Yasmine Petty.
She is of Puerto Rican-Peruvian ancestry.
Mitch Kellaway is a transgender news reporter, Pushcart Prize-nominated writer, and the co-editor of Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves, an anthology of personal narratives by trans men. He currently covers trans news for the Advocate.com.
Mitch has written over 400 articles, op-eds, essays, interviews, and reviews about LGBT people, with a focus on transgender communities. He’s gotten a chance to speak with and write about a number of today’s transgender luminaries, including Laverne Cox, Laura Jane Grace, S. Bear Bergman, Trace Lysette, Angelica Ross, and Sgt. Shane Ortega.
In addition to The Advocate, his writing has appeared in the Lambda Literary Review, Everyday Feminism, Huffington Post, Mic, Out, and Original Plumbing magazine, and has been published in several literary journals and anthologies including Jonathan: A Journal of Gay Fiction, Zeteo, Re*cog*nize: The Voices of Bisexual Men, Best Sex Writing 2015, Finding Masculinity: Female-to-Male Transition in Adulthood, and Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity (forthcoming 2015).
An openly queer, biracial man, Mitch holds a degree in gender studies from Harvard University and lives with his wife in Somerville, MA.
This edition of our newsletter is longer than others.
But we promise you it’s worth your time.
The Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith met face-to-face in June. During our time together we discussed the many messages we’ve received from around the world. In this note we’d like to share some lessons we’ve learned in this process.
We Can Do Better with Communications
Sometimes we forget to tell you what we’ve been up to. The Commission has been meeting monthly for a year and a half. It took us a while to get our own newsletter started.
We’ve not been able to visit many churches or network gatherings. So we’ll be working to get the word out to more of you, including a series of webinars. Be sure you are subscribed to our newsletter for announcements. (Use the link at the bottom of this email.)
If you’d like us to participate in a network gathering or conference call, let us know!We might be close enough to come, but if not, we’d welcome the chance to talk with on a conference call or via Skype.
From Now On, We Promise to Steer Clear of “Click Bait”
In at least one instance, our attempt at catchy titles to entice folks to read our newsletter (also known as “click bait”) left some of you with false impressions about our work. We’ll be working hard to engage you without misleading those of you who might scan our headline, but don’t necessarily have time to read the full content of a newsletter.
We’ve Been Learning about MCC’s History
We’ve reached out to MCC Elders like Troy Perry, Nancy Wilson, Freda Smith, Don Eastman, and Lee Carlton to better understand the way that the original Statement of Faith was written and how it has changed over time. We’ve also read many of MCC’s historical documents.
We’ve Been Consulting with Outside Experts
During our first face-to-face meeting last year in Chicago, we also consulted with theologians, Bible scholars, liturgists, and graduate students from Chicago Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago Divinity School. These scholars have helped us to think more deeply about MCC, the larger Church, and the world.
We’ve Taken a Snapshot of MCC Practices and Beliefs around the World
Last year we conducted two surveys: one of individual MCC members and friends, and the other of MCC congregations around the world.
We asked a series of questions about people’s experiences of the current Statement of Faith. Did you know we had one? How do you use it? What do you like about it? What causes you problems or concerns?
Some of you have expressed concern that the results of the survey would dictate what is included or excluded from MCC’s Statement of Faith. Others suggested that particular responses might serve as mandates for the Commission. Neither of these is actually the case.
The surveys are a part of the larger Descriptive Theologies Project launched by the MCC Theologies Team. They are descriptive because they help us to see what MCC members and congregations believe and how they actually work around the world. Our goal is to get a sense not only for what churches and individuals like, but also where we struggle. This helps us to identify areas that may require further teaching and conversation.
Though we sent an invitation to every MCC congregation to participate, only 25% of our churches responded. Likewise, we sent out an invitation to over 7,000 friends and members of MCC to participate in the survey of individual values and beliefs. The response rate was about 12%.
Many people didn’t know about the survey. Others were not able to participate for a variety of reasons. So while responses to the surveys provide useful information about a segment of MCC, they serve more as a diagnostic than a democratic process for determining the content of the revised Statement of Faith.
We’ve Been Building Our Mailing Lists
Everyone who provided a valid email address when responding to a survey was automatically subscribed to our newsletter. But we’ve deliberately targeted our communications to those who have subscribed to our mailing list.
You can help us reach more people by sharing this
message with your friends in MCC.
We will also be sharing more with MCC Headline News, but we will also keep asking people to subscribe to our newsletter. Our goal is to provide the information you need without sending too much to your mailbox.
We’ve Been Reflecting on Inclusivity
Accepting one another without requiring that everyone believes a certain teaching or holds a particular point of view has been one of MCC’s greatest strengths. The Commission has no intention of changing that.
In our earliest days, MCC shared about God, Gays, and the Gospel. Over time we’ve embraced many different sexualities, gender identities, and gender expressions. And this is still a work in progress.
MCC was born out of the pain of exclusion and a need to share God’s love with people in the margins. And yet we are not an exclusively gay church. Our congregations include not only LGBT people, but also members for whom questions about sexuality simply aren’t what draw them to MCC.
In the past we might have labeled straight members of MCC as “Allies,” but even this is no longer the case. An entire generation of children has come of age in MCC with new questions. Others have found relief from judgmentalism and narrow thinking they experience in other churches.
So while we are still very much a church concerned with the integration of spirituality and sexuality, we are also constantly challenged to expand our self-understanding in ways that are more and more inclusive.
We Seek Unity in our Diversity
A few of you have expressed fears that the Commission might produce a new Statement of Faith that would make it impossible for you to stay with MCC. We hear you. And we are committed to the same openness and inclusivity that MCC has valued throughout our history.
Some have expressed fears that a new Statement of Faith will demand that we give up cherished beliefs. Others are worried that we’ll try to enforce a standard orthodoxy. We won’t be proposing either of these extremes.
From our beginnings, MCC has included people who don’t agree on lots of theological issues. Yet our diversity has often proven to be one of our greatest strengths.
In MCC, we invite all people to participate in Holy Communion at God’s table. We baptize in a variety of ways. We understand the Atonement (or the work of Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to God) in a variety of ways, just as our Christian forebears have over the last two thousand years. We acknowledge that each human being is created in the image of God. And many of us have come to see God’s grace as it shines into places where it is least expected.
We have fought the temptation to demand allegiance to one particular Christian tradition, and we hold individual conscience as one of our highest values. We’re all on this journey together.
We Thank You for Your Comments and Prayers. We Ask You to Continue.
Many of you responded to our initial survey. You’ve replied to our newsletters. You’ve sent messages through the MCC website and through Facebook. And you’ve shared your ideas and your concerns in person. Your comments have been very helpful to us in understanding more deeply what we are charged to do. We encourage you to keep on sharing with us!
We are also grateful for the prayers that many of you have offered on behalf of our work. And we ask that you continue to remember us.
Ways You Can Get Involved
Here are some ways that you can be a part of the Commission’s continuing work:
Subscribe to the Commission’s newsletter by sending us a request: Statement of Faith Newsletter