The power of voting as queer and Latinx in 2020

the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Federico Yñiguez

The power of voting as queer and Latinx in 2020

October 30, 2020

Voting has always been a symbol of power for me and my family. Growing up, I’d watch my grandfather and father educate themselves on the campaigns, stances, and political backgrounds of the people running for office by watching interviews, debates, and reading newspapers. They’d try to inform themselves to make sure they were making the correct decisions. To them, being politically knowledgeable was a civic duty to not only their country but, more importantly, to their community.

Oftentimes, my family would look at the candidates and if it got down to it, they’d ask themselves, “Which one is Latinx?” There was this sense of unspoken community that so many Latinx individuals have shared with me over the years of just being Latinx and supporting each other without reservations. That community power and pride is very necessary in this year’s election because so much of the Latinx community continues to suffer under President Donald Trump’s administration.

As someone who is Latinx and gay, this election will have a massive impact on my future in the United States. In 2018, while my community was racially profiled as “rapists” and “drug dealers” by the current president, anti-Latinx hate crimes went up 21%. These instances are only a few examples of the mistreatment we have faced under this administration.

The most pressing reason, for me, to vote is the brutal treatment of Latinx people at the border. We must remember the neglect and abuse that our sister Roxsána Hernández Rodriguez, a transgender woman from Honduras who died within an ICE facility, endured. Many Latinxs, such as Roxsána, are just looking for safety in the United States. Many countries in Central and South America are not as accepting, and sometimes violent towards LGBTQ people, therefore many queer and trans people from these countries look to the United States for refuge. From general harassment to murder, LGBTQ+ Latinxs are forced to come to the United States for a chance at life. This is why it is so important to vote for candidates that understand how serious this situation is. We need compassionate and intelligent leadership in all offices open for re-election this year. Just remember that their voices need yours in order to be amplified and make an impact.

Another reason why I am voting in this election is because my community is disproportionately affected by COVID-19. According to the Human Rights Campaign, nearly 34% of New York City’s coronavirus deaths are Latinxs even though they account for 29% of the city’s population. Long-standing economic disparities between white Americans and people of color have caused these outbreaks to impact Latinx and Black communities disproportionately. Latinx and Black residents of the United States are three times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 and twice as likely to die from the virus as compared to their white counterparts. Latinx individuals are also put in danger more often due to the types of jobs they are - in some cases - forced to take. Under the current administration, this trend will likely continue. The only way we can change this is by voting for representatives that will fight for us and a president who cares.

Voting is not only our responsibility but it is also a privilege. Not everyone living in this country can vote but all of us are affected by the outcome of the election. For every undocumented Latinx individual, this election decides their futures in the United States and we need to think of them when we vote.

In 2020, 32 million Latinx individuals will be eligible to vote. This could turn the tide of the election toward a more secure and just future. We need to remember as a community that this election is not just about our own individual struggles but the multitude of struggles that our community faces.

Federico Yñiguez is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at California State University, Long Beach studying graphic design. He is a proud member of his university's Queers and Allies club.

the voice and vision of a new generation