Every year, the unveiling of the OUT100 list is greeted with breathless anticipation. It functions as a grand LGBTQI yearbook that hopes to sum up the year in question. Not coincidentally, those selected for the special issue of Out Magazine are then celebrated in prom-like fashion at the OUT100 Gala, which took place last week in New York City.
In a year that saw the issue of diversity become a central point of contention within the LGBTQI community, 2015’s OUT100 is perhaps unsurprisingly as varied as the rainbow flag itself. As Managing Editor R. Kurt Osenlund told Remezcla, “with 18 trans men and women, 2015’s OUT100 is the most trans-inclusive ever.” Beyond expected names like Caitlyn Jenner and Robbie Rogers, the list also features Alicia Garza, whose #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has become synonymous with the ongoing conversation about police violence, as well as Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented Filipino activist (and thus a primo to the Latino community) who has been vocal about immigration rights and reform.
“The recent progress achieved by the LGBT community is vast and momentous,” Osenlund added, “and while we of course strove to make it as colorful as possible, this year’s OUT100, I think, is a rather natural reflection of that progress.”
That progress is best epitomized by the decision to feature president Barack Obama (named “Ally of the Year”) on the cover, a symbolic gesture that speaks to the administration’s commitment to inclusion of the LGBTQI community at large. And while gay Latino stalwarts like Ricky Martin and Wilson Cruz may not have made this year’s list (as Osenlund points out, they “try to keep our focus on the LGBT stars, minds, and influencers who’ve made an impact on the world within the past year”), there are plenty of familiar faces in the list that proudly claim their Latino roots.
From indie breakout stars to Drag Race veterans, below you’ll find the 10 figures of Latin American descent who made this year’s list.
In OUT Magazine’s words, this young, gay Latino artist finds “inspiration and meaning in the most quotidian juxtapositions, such as a gardener with a leaf blower in front of the iconic Paul Smith store on Melrose Avenue, or the figure of a housecleaner inserted in one of legendary artist David Hockney’s 1960s Southern California scenes.”
Joel Perez and Roberta Colindrez
Perez and Colindrez are New York City-based theater performers that made the list as part of the “The Fun Home Family.” The Tony-winning musical is based on cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, which deals with her coming out. Mexican-born Colindrez plays the girl who moves a college-aged Alison Bechdel to sing that she’s changing her major to Joan, while Perez plays one of the high school boys Alison’s father seduced in the funeral home that gives the musical its title.
Puerto Rican Beauchamp has found success playing a number of fascinating characters that break all sorts of gender and sexual binaries, from “trans courtesan (Showtime’s Penny Dreadful), a fiery drag queen (the forthcoming Thirsty), and an androgynous gay hustler (the Roland Emmerich drama Stonewall).” In fact, his performance has been singled out as one of the few things worth celebrating in Emmerich’s much-derided film.
Unknown to many, Jason Dardo — who goes by the stage name Violet Chachki — is of Ecuadorian descent. The young Atlanta native won Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where her outfits made us, in that show’s parlance, gag on her eleganza. Looking to explore “drag beyond Drag Race,” Chachki (so named because of the the tchotchkes she loves), released an aptly-titled album this past summer called Gagged.
Salcedo best exemplifies the ethos behind list such as these. An avowed trans activist, Bamby left her day job this year to devote herself full-time to “be the activist that I am, and do direct action.” She is the founder and president of the Trans-Latin@ Coalition, whose sole purpose is to address the unique and specific challenges and needs of trans Latin@s who are immigrants.
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez
Tangerine, the Sean Baker Sundance hit that was shot entirely with an iPhone, has made stars of its two leads. Alongside Mya Taylor, Rodriguez was singled out for her breakthrough performance as Sin-Dee, a trans sex worker in LA whose anger at being cheated on fuels the film’s narrative. She’s already using her platform for good. As she told OUT Magazine, “Equality in the workplace is my biggest concern,” she says, “and the area where I most hope to help bring about change.”
Kurtis Dam-Mikkelsen — whose drag stage name is the provocatively simple “Miss Fame” — has made her pride for her #latinoroots no secret (her grandma is from Colombia). A contestant in Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Fame shows no signs of slowing down, following up her stint in the reality competition with an album and various modeling engagements.
Puerto Rican Maldonado made headlines this year for coming out during a high school basketball game in Kentucky after being called a gay slur. Not quite how he envisioned it, though the widespread messages of support that followed have helped the young athlete take his newfound task as role model in stride: “97 percent of Kentucky teens that identify as LGBTQI have reported being bullied and not having someone stand up for them,” he says. “That statistic has got to be fixed.”
It takes courage to heckle the president of the United States. But Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans Latina activist, made vocal her complaints about the Obama administration’s treatment of LGBT immigrants during a speech where Obama’s “You’re in my house!” response went viral. Thankfully, so did Gutiérrez’s pointed critiques. As she told OUT, “At first the response was negative, but it raised visibility. It started a debate.”
Puerto Rican born Santini was cited as part of the team responsible for the Mala Mala documentary. The doc, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at last year’s Austin Gay & Lesbian Festival, offers a colorful look at the lives of trans people in Puerto Rico.