Esther Hidalgo is sometimes surprised when she meets other Latina lesbians in Washington and as she was discussing with a colleague this week, she sometimes wonders why their paths don’t cross more often.
“Unless it’s a Latin venue, we really don’t see each other,” says the D.C.-area native, whose parents are Cuban and Puerto Rican. “And we can’t always easily identify each other when we do see each other. Sometimes you don’t realize there may be other Latinas in a room.”
So Hidalgo is starting “Mujeres en el Movimiento,” a networking event for Latina lesbians that launches tonight (Friday) from 6:30 to 8:30 at the new MOVA (2204 14th St., N.W.). It’s an official event of the Latino GLBT History Project. Based on attendance, organizers will decide whether to make it a regular event.
“I’m sure we’ll do it annually at least, but maybe more often,” she says.
The name means “women in the movement” and has a dual meaning — movement as in coming together socially, but also as an extension of the larger LGBT rights movement. It’s a happy hour event with Latin music and a digital exhibition of black and white photos by Kevin Kenner of Latina activists from the area titled “Heroes Latinas.” A suggested donation of $5 includes a vodka drink (for more information, contact Hidalgo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-670-5547).
Hidalgo, a graduate student studying for a master’s in library and information science part time at Catholic University, met History Project founder Jose Guttierez years ago when they both worked at the Leather Rack. She joined the group two years ago working on its archives and Pride festivities. She juggles three jobs when she’s not in school — she prints black and white photos in a studio, works for a collections archive in Northeast D.C. and works as a student tech at the National Archives in College Park sorting and preserving government documents.
Hidalgo, who grew up in Langley Park, Md., but mostly attended school in D.C., lives now in Columbia Heights with her girlfriend of two years. (Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since around 18. Coming out to my dad was scary because I am close to my parents and an only child. Without missing a beat, he said that he could relate because “women are softer and they smell better.”
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Just one? I’m looking forward to meeting a few of them as they are featured in Friday’s exhibition. Most recently, my heroes are the Mujeres en el Movimiento Committee Members. In addition to working for political and humanistic causes, they saw the importance of this idea and worked hard to help bring it to fruition.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Wednesday Ladies Night at Chaos.
Describe your dream wedding.
There will be a lot of dancing and a lot of hip-hop.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
This is difficult to answer because most social issues from immigration to domestic violence to education can and do affect members of the LGBT community. We are an intrinsic component of everyday society.
What historical outcome would you change?
That first moment in history where a woman took crap from a man and high-waisted jeans.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Michael Jackson Moonwalking.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Mujeres en el Movimiento networking reception hosted by the Latino GLBT History Project on Friday, March 23rd from 6:30-8:30pm at MOVA. I am the event chair and super excited about it and promoting it all the time! :-)
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
I don’t know but it should definitely be a graphic novel.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Sit them down and have a real serious discussion about ethics (or just blow up the lab).
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
In Buddhism, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is, among other things, the name of the mystic law that governs life eternally throughout the universe. I chant this every day as a form of prayer.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
I think they should continue to build bridges of communication and cooperation between their respective causes.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Are you really asking me to choose between my girlfriend and my cat?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay men have all the style and lesbians have all the guitars.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Dog Day Afternoon”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Starting a conversation by asking. “So, what do you do?”
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
To positively affect the lives of others through action.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The heart will mend.
D.C. holds a lot of hidden histories, like those of LGBT Latino organizations and activists, that shape the consciousness of its residents whether they realize it or not. Plus, it is the home of go-go.