“I need to make certain every little thing I am doing is creating a greater world for my boys.” Daniel Reyes is the chief program officer at The Lesbian, Homosexual, Bisexual, and Transgender Neighborhood Heart in New York. He is additionally a Latinx immigrant, and a “proud homosexual papá of two superb twin boys.”
Born in Mexico, Reyes was raised in Chicago earlier than turning into a highschool Spanish instructor. “I by no means noticed academics who appeared like me,” Reyes advised CelebrityPie, referring to the absence of BIPOC staff at his faculty. “Spending time with college students of colour and Latinx pupil teams, I noticed that my coronary heart was extra exterior the classroom, and moved into the nonprofit sector.”
“I come from an immigrant household. I’ve come from a household that skilled financial exclusion. I perceive and I really feel these issues very deeply,” he stated. “I bear in mind the dynamic of [receiving help and] feeling completely disempowered and completely helpless — crammed with disgrace. How can we take away that from the equation?”
At present, he is tackling fairness, empowerment, and development by way of the intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, and he says, “There’s nonetheless a number of work to do.”
Discovering a House at The Heart
For 2 years, Reyes was the manager director at Junta For Progressive Motion in Connecticut, a social justice and repair group he describes as being “constructed and run by the Latinx neighborhood.” This was essential to Reyes as a result of after his years and years within the nonprofit sector — working particularly in youngsters and household companies, immigration, and emergency meals — he was keenly conscious of the truth that the highest of those organizations had been largely comprised of white folks, who might empathize however by no means fairly perceive the challenges going through the communities they served.
Junta was totally different, and when The Heart got here calling, he knew he had discovered the subsequent part of his work. The demographics of the queer neighborhood have modified, “and The Heart understands that the way forward for our communities are Black and brown and each colour below the rainbow,” Reyes defined. “With that comes a plurality of views, a plurality of want and energies, and [The Center] actually needed to lean into that.”
The Heart is what Reyes calls an “identification service supplier,” basically a spot that gives a service for a specific identification. “To be a part of a company that basically has been eager about queer and trans BIPOC communities has been superb,” he advised CelebrityPie. He feels proud that The Heart has given him motion objects and that the work they’re doing is not performative — they’re actually making a distinction.
“The way forward for our communities are Black and brown and each colour below the rainbow.”
For instance, he is had the chance to companion with the Icahn Faculty of Medication on the Mount Sinai Medical Heart on a challenge referred to as “Converse Up, New York.” At present, the main target is on “Converse Up on COVID-19.” Collectively, they’re doing community-based and community-engaged analysis to “have a look at the results and disparities communities have been experiencing with COVID and the way it interprets to well being outcomes for people,” Reyes stated. “The Heart and Mount Sinai have been engaged on this survey with a bunch of different suppliers.” He describes it as a “real collaboration” between the organizations and the neighborhood.
Intersectionality and the Way forward for Our Communities
“My time at The Heart has actually been about bringing in that intersectionality into the LGBTQ+ communities,” Reyes advised CelebrityPie. “That is the crux of my work: understanding that with the intention to advance and raise up our communities, we have now to be considering holistically. A person is the sum of many elements, and if we’re continually simply making an attempt to handle a part of an individual, we’re by no means going to get wherever.”
“A person is the sum of many elements, and if we’re continually simply making an attempt to handle a part of an individual, we’re by no means going to get wherever.”
Whereas queer and trans folks have that identification in frequent, folks of colour have at all times confronted a novel set of challenges. “The LGBTQ+ neighborhood has been reflective of the US normally,” Reyes stated. “It is [also] constructed on the racist buildings that exist within the nation.” For The Heart, the query then turns into: “How can we dismantle that?”
Intersectionality has a big bearing on entry to assets — all the way down to the meals that we placed on our tables — and Reyes has seen this firsthand. “Once I labored in emergency meals, actually what we [were] coping with is the alleviation of poverty,” he defined. “Meals insecurity is constructed on lack of entry and lack of assets.”
This has been delivered to the forefront lately, notably by way of his work with Mount Sinai. Reyes advised CelebrityPie that this challenge feels particularly significant after watching the novel coronavirus “ravage town” earlier this yr. “To see queer and trans Black and brown communities impacted [the most] . . . it has been disheartening,” he stated. “So when the parents at Mount Sinai reached out to me to work on the challenge, I instantly stated, ‘Sure, completely.’ There was a hearth in my coronary heart over it already.”
Reyes is working with leaders from neighborhood organizations to “discover the perfect methods to make sure there’s equitable entry to healthcare, equitable entry to assets,” he defined. “It is not a range or equality subject — it is an fairness subject. This requires us to think about issues by way of an fairness lens.” That framework calls for intersectionality in additional methods than one. “A number of my experiences are working in that synthesis between nonprofit, social companies, activism, advocacy,” Reyes stated. “All of these issues need to be intertwined collectively. They do not work in isolation.”
To finest tackle these wants, Reyes is taking a novel method at The Heart, shifting the main target to serving folks, fairly than simply serving to them. “What we’re doing is collaborating, innovating collectively. Deciding what we would like as a neighborhood,” he defined. This provides energy to those that have traditionally been powerless.
The right way to Be a Higher Ally
In case you really feel impressed by Reyes and his work and need to become involved as an ally, he has some recommendation.
The first step: do your analysis earlier than turning a buddy into your private search engine. “From my perspective, do not put [your one queer Latinx friend] within the place to be a spokesperson for a whole neighborhood,” Reyes stated. “Discover ways to be an ally or perceive one thing that is not essentially the most clear for you. Do not put them within the place the place they need to be a consultant. Of us of colour and queer of us — it is not their job to clarify issues to you.”
He famous that this isn’t to be dismissive, fairly it is to encourage you to “be a part of [us] by doing the work.” Reyes stated that your folks will genuinely recognize that you have come to the dialog having completed your analysis. Doing the work additionally requires difficult current buildings, utilizing your voice, and channeling some braveness. Reyes went into The Heart and was very direct, asking, “Aren’t you a fairly white group?” He advised CelebrityPie that he is “previous the purpose of being afraid,” and needed to name consideration to “needed range.”
“We now have a historical past and picture we have now to work towards. We perceive that the parents coming by way of our doorways are extremely numerous and we’d like to have the ability to reply to that successfully,” Reyes defined. “I recognize what The Heart is doing and making an attempt to do.”
Picture Supply: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center
He continued: “It is very simple to really feel othered since you’re brown, you are Black, you are queer, you are an immigrant. There’s this misnomer, this picture of what an American is: a white, cis, center class man. We have spent a lot time making an attempt to suit that. For myself, I spent a lot time making an attempt to suit that.” Reyes at all times nervous that if he felt a micro or overt aggression about being Latinx or being queer and really referred to as it out for what it was that he would then “grow to be the ‘loopy Latnix’ who’s at all times calling everybody racist and homophobic.”
“We have to converse up, and we have to converse loudly, boldly, and bravely.”
Occasions have modified, and Reyes stated he is by no means felt such urgency to talk up. “Now we’re on this interval after we can say, ‘No. This must cease.’ We have to converse up, and we have to converse loudly, boldly, and bravely,” Reyes advised CelebrityPie. Being in his late 40s, and having come to phrases together with his identification, he is in awe of this subsequent era of younger folks. “Seeing the place they’re at and the way courageous they’re — if they are often courageous, then all of us should be courageous,” he stated. “We have to assist them. We want to verify the trail is being charted so that everyone has entry and that there’s fairness for everyone.”
This work is deeply private for Reyes — not simply due to his life expertise, nor merely for the betterment of the communities he cares about most, however for his younger sons, in order that they’ll develop up in a lovely, extra empowered, extra welcoming and loving world.