Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June is a callback to the very first LGBTQ+ Pride: the protest at the Stonewall Inn that began on June 28, 1969. It was on that night that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights was thrust into the public eye, and the movement for justice and equality catapulted into the mainstream. Over 50 years later, this movement continues as LGBTQ+ communities across the country fight for equal treatment and protections under the law.
While LGBTQ+ Pride Month is an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and to celebrate where we are going, it is also a reminder, for all of us, that there is still much work for us to do to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community is uplifted, accepted, and protected.
We invite you to learn about LGBTQ+ leaders, including civil rights activists, community leaders, fashion icons, and bank presidents. You can read about some of them on the OSET OneNet. But, the message I want to share on this last day of LGBTQ+ Pride month is that LGBTQ+ people don't have to be famous or do extraordinary things to be worthy of dignity and respect.
But right here at IDHS, there is an extraordinary leader who has shared so generously about her love and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, Assistant Secretary Dulce Quintero, long-time advocate for and champion of the LGBTQ+ community. She has shared a bit of herself with us, to help us reflect on and close out LGBTQ+ Pride month:
What is your full name?
Dulce M. Quintero
Where did you grow up?
I come from very humble beginnings, moving around throughout much of my childhood. I have experienced having lived in large urban areas, such as Chicago and Mexico City, as well as small rural towns in California where my parents were migrant workers, as well as parts of central and northern Mexico, near my parents' hometowns. At a young age, I saw what resource scarcity and lack of infrastructure could do to whole communities of people, such as the plight of the migrant farmworkers. From the lack of responses from systems of education and human services, to seeing, first-hand, the families broken due to lack of documentation, the cost of wage exploitation, and the impact of housing instability and intergenerational poverty.
In 2017, you were inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame (congratulations!). Can you briefly share how that honor has impacted you, your family, and your work within the LGBTQ+ community?
I am proud to name that I have been inspired by movements for social change to fight and be able to impact the way LGBTQ+ people get treated. I was in high school when I first saw transphobia, full front and center, at class attendance time, when during roll call students laughed and bullied my classmate who asked to be called their preferred name after the teacher repeatedly called the student's name listed on the roster. The student was then asked to leave class after being denied that request. I remember asking for a bathroom pass to go check on her and found her crying in the hallway. I called her by her stated name and remained with her to make sure she was ok. I will never forget the feeling of righteous anger that overtook me. I knew deep inside how painful this treatment was.
I want a world where human rights are respected, and your name and identity can be a big part of that. And even more so when we have an epidemic of trans women of color being systematically murdered. So, for me, this is an issue I take personally. I do not just have an affinity for the L and G of the rainbow spectrum. I identify as me. My mantra is: "I am who I am." I am here to defend all of my LGBTQ+ peers and they are my family--they are who held me as a community. And to give back and show love, I have been doing LGBTQ+ cross-issue community organizing for over 15 years and the good people of the Chicago Hall of Fame noticed.
What does LGBTQ+ Pride mean to you?
It is a reminder of all activists, past, present, and future, who are part of fighting and advocating for a world where everyone can exist without shame or fear and be free to be who they want to be.
For me, LGBTQ+ Pride is being able to exist. It's having access to dignity, visibility, and respect.
Although Pride is celebration, it is also a time when I reflect on the fight to come. Ongoing struggles remind me how we have a ways to go when it comes to representation throughout our ranks, how we acknowledge for example that there are LGBTQ people with disabilities and that we have cultural responsiveness to these groups during Pride month and beyond. READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE...
There is so much more to this deeply moving interview with Assistant Secretary Quintero; I am honored to serve with her, and I thank her for sharing so deeply. I encourage you to visit our IDHS Pride OneNet page where you will find a number of resources about how to support the LGBTQ+ community! In the meantime, Happy Pride to you all!
Grace B. Hou