By Josue Bello
On June 26, 2015, same sex marriage was legalized in the United States. To many, the law was a new hope, an opportunity to finally be happy and to have the equal opportunity of a future with someone without having to hide it. However, this wasn’t the case for all communities.
Smaller communities around the United States are primarily influenced by culture. Some small communities still haven’t accepted the way society has progressed, stuck in an old mindset that puts religious and cultural values before individual rights. Communities like this are unsafe for LGBTQ+ people. These are places in which they face prejudice, where they are discouraged from coming out, where they are targeted against for simply being themselves, places in which they get dirty looks and get yelled at.
In the Rio Grande Valley, a border town in South Texas, the LGBTQ+ community has been encouraging a change in mindset. The population here is majority Hispanic with enforced Catholic beliefs, rigid gender roles and a patriarchal society; however, there are multiple groups of teenagers and adults that have been supportive of the community and been advocates for it.
From an early age, members of the community are exposed to the concept of machismo, the belief that the man is superior to the female and that he must take the role of being the head of the house and abide to all manly nature.
Exposure to this from a young age becomes daunting and nerve wrecking for males who want to come out and females who are expected to abide by all stereotypical girl norms. But some in the community don’t see anything wrong with this mindset, as it’s what they have always lived with.
But in recent years, active members of the LGBTQ community have begun striving to change this mentality. Just three years ago the first Pride in the Park movement was made. The turnout of this event was so supportive that it became a recurring event. Since then, members of the community have come out and aspired to become positive influences.
With the whole power they developed, they have come back to the Rio Grande Valley and pushed for more acceptance. Artists like Fish Fiorucci, one of Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories founding models, and Luis Alejandro, a beauty guru who signed with Benefit Cosmetics and has worked with some of the world’s biggest celebrities, are all Rio Grande Valley natives who are proving that a changed mindset in even the strictest communities is possible.