Latinos stage Castro rally against racism
Charges of racism against Latinos within the LGBT community will be addressed during an "Evening of Protest and Education" scheduled to be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 21 at Harvey Milk Plaza at Market and Castro streets in San Francisco.
Individuals in the LGBT community, according to Miguel Bustos, a protest organizer, scheduled the event following reports of verbal attacks on gay Latinos.
"After the immigrant community started voicing their opposition to the proposed immigration reform, many LGBTQ women and men of color are now being attacked by many within our own community," said Bustos.
Bustos said some gay Latino community members have been called "wetbacks" and have been told, "to go back where we came from."
"This racist sentiment is not new, but has actually been around for a long time," he said. "Racism, sexism, ageism, and elitism in our LGBTQ community are alive and well."
Eric Arguello, another protest organizer, said he knew of at least two recent verbal confrontations against Latinos made by known members of the LGBT community.
"I do not think any police reports were made about these, though," he said.
John Mendoza, one of the individuals who said he was a target of a recent verbal attack, said he plans on being at the rally on Friday.
"It is sad to me, as a born U.S. citizen and gay Latino man, that because of my skin color and size I am a target of hate and racism," said Mendoza. "In a community that right now is fighting for equal rights and gay marriage, this type of hate and outright racism is alive and well. For people to stand by and say nothing is more of a crime in itself."
Mendoza said the incident occurred the night of March 25 when he was in front of a Castro restaurant waiting to order some food.
"A young white gay male around 25 years old stepped in front of me and insisted he was going in first. When I disagreed, he stood in front of me anyway. I told him he was not going to get in before me," according to Mendoza.
He said the man turned to him and told him "go back to Mexico, you fucking wetback, where you belong."
Mendoza said he was so shocked by the remark that he actually took a swing at the man.
He said police were in the area, arrived on the scene, and interviewed each party but no arrests where made.
"I hope the message of unity and tolerance and understanding gets out to the public. It is important for people to know we will not put up with this hate in the Castro or San Francisco," said Mendoza. "Gays coming into San Francisco are looking for a better life and leaving their family and friends in search of this better life."
Mendoza added that he thought the attitude expressed by the man was evident by many in the Castro area, especially "young kids" who "have this type of attitude and want to assimilate to what they think the Castro should be."
The city's Human Rights Commission, according to Larry Brinkin, senior contract compliance officer, has received no reports of recent incidents of verbal harassment.
"We know this kind of thing is going on and take this very seriously," Brinkin said.
Brinkin said the LGBT Advisory Committee to the HRC plans on addressing the issue as part of its upcoming project on immigration. The commission recently welcomed 12 new members with diverse cultural backgrounds to the advisory committee.Â
Bustos said he felt the evidence of racism in the gay community could also be found in the lack of support to many minority agencies.
"It [racism] is evident in the recent struggle against our black sisters and brothers in the Castro. It can be seen in the lack of support ... like AGUILAS gets from the mainstream LGBTQ community," Bustos said.
Bustos was referring to the racial discrimination charges against Badlands bar that were upheld in an HRC staff report. Badlands bar owner Les Natali and the complainants reached a mediation settlement in January following the 19-month dispute. Terms of the settlement have not been publicly disclosed. Natali has consistently denied the racism alle