Hispanic Federation’s queer president condemns Don’t Say Gay laws: ‘All you’re doing is isolating children’

A graphic composed of a photo of Frankie Miranda, the first openly queer president of the Hispanic Federation; a sign reading 'Trans Latinx lives matter'; and Hispanic LGBTQ+ people gathered together in protest

When Frankie Miranda first heard of the possibility of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills in the US, it took him back to his upbringing in Puerto Rico.

The Hispanic Federation’s (HF) first openly queer president says that while he was growing up there was an unwritten policy that LGBTQ+ issues were not welcomed.

Various states across the US have introduced and enacted legislation similar to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, which restricts LGBTQ+ discussions in schools. Conservatives weaponised the law to attack inclusive education, queer books and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth – all under the guise of “protecting children”.

The dire situation has led civil rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to issue a warning that Florida is “openly hostile” towards Black people, the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities. Florida governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis responded by calling the move a “stunt” from a group with a “very left-wing agenda”. 

But Miranda knows anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and rhetoric have an impact on queer youth and minorities – because he’s experienced it. 

The thought that other LGBTQ+ youngsters could go through the same pain, isolation and abuse that he suffered forced him to “relive [his past] trauma”, he tells PinkNews.

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He immediately recognised that the claim about the bills being about safeguarding youngsters was false. “The reality is that these types of policies will make children more vulnerable – not only LGBTQ+ [children but] any child who is bullied, who is somehow targeted, [but] especially LGBTQ youth in schools,” he says.

“When you don’t have the ability to be yourself or have a trusted person [who] you can confide [in] and talk [to] and be able to navigate some of these issues, all you’re doing is isolating children. 

“I grew up in that environment. I was so isolated because, every single chance that I wanted to ask for help, somebody re-victimised me or would take advantage of the opportunity. The fact that I was sexually abused in school was because I had no way to tell anybody.

“Every time we create environments that are about secrets, that are about silence, what we’re doing is hurting children, hurting the most vulnerable in our society. 

“It forced me to relive trauma and be able to say: ‘No, if I went through this, nobody else should have to go through it’.”

Miranda has continued to share his experiences because he knows that “people understand the stories” when they can see the human element behind hateful legislation. 

He’s also vocal about his power as the first openly queer president of the HF, which empowers millions of Hispanic youth and families across the US by advancing Latinx institutions and communities. 

Frankie Miranda, the first openly LGBTQ+ president of the Hispanic Federation, wears a suit and tie as he talks to others at the New York Governor's Office
Under Franke Miranda, the Hispanic Federation created a new initiative to support LGBTQ+ Latinx people. (NY Governor’s Office)

The federation acknowledges and celebrates the accomplishments of Latinx people every day, but the work to support the community comes into sharp focus during Hispanic Heritage Month

The celebration kicks off on 15 September and is a chance for Latinx people to celebrate their background while advocating for equality and inclusion in their communities and beyond. 

During the month, Miranda “doubles down” on talking about the “rich, diverse and intersectional” Latinx community.

“Going out with my husband, every way that I can, [I] introduce him and make sure people understand that you can be Latinx, you can be queer, you can be successful, you can be happily married, you can be [the] many different things that people try to erase. 

“That is why I try my best to live in my truth every single day, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month, and let people know – especially this new generation which is under attack – things will get better and we’re going to fight together.”

Latinx LGBTQ+ people have long been at the forefront of the queer movement. They are instrumental in the fight for a world where all queer people, including LGBTQ+ Latinx people, can live freely and openly in all areas of life. 

That’s something Miranda has taken to heart. Under his leadership, the HF established the Advance Change Together initiative, to support organisations that protect and serve Latinx LGBTQ+ communities. 

The organisation has campaigned against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, championed queer Latinx events and opposed the rising tide of discrimination in the US. 

Miranda says elected officials are trying to use Latinx people, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups to “gain a few headlines and a few votes”.

He adds: “People in our community, when they are spoken to with respect and dignity, and talking culturally, competently, linguistically, want to be part of the conversation. 

“Social media has been a game changer when it comes to the way we do our work because so much misinformation is targeted at Spanish-language social media users. 

“We know that platforms are trying to curb misinformation in English, but we’re still not very clear how these platforms are tackling misinformation in Spanish.”

Miranda wants to make sure that advocates and community-based organisations have the right tools to counter the “false narrative about our communities” as well as disinformation online.

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