Gay Latinos: A Minority within a Minority

Hispanic Americans in this country are considered a minority a fact that sounds simplistic considering that the nation’s Hispanic population increased 1.4 million to reach 45.5 million on July 1, 2007, or 15.1 percent of the estimated total U.S. population of 301.6 million. Hispanics remained the largest minority group, with blacks (single race or multiracial) second at 40.7 million in 2007. The black population exceeded 500,000 in 20 states. Blacks were the largest minority group in 24 states, compared with 20 states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group, this according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So it is reasonable to say that even in this last national election Hispanics as a whole played an important part in the politics that will shape our nation in the era of population statistics.

torres2But how important is the gay Hispanic population within the general gay population as a whole? In his 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred Kinsey shocked the world by announcing that 10% of the male population was gay. The 2000 U.S. Census Bureau found that homosexual couples constitute less than 1% of American households. Yet the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates three to eight percent of both sexes are considered gay in the United States.

Within the subtext of that grouping, what is the percentage of gay Latinos and Latinas? Am guessing that if the initial Census taken in 2000, estimated total gay populations as less than 1%, gay Latinos within that group must constitute are higher percentage than officially stated. I say that because the current standing on Hispanics in this country stands at roughly 12.5%. So we as Latinos must surely compose a larger percentage than 1% of the gay population.

We have to continue to ask ourselves what percentage of the population is homosexual? It may be that no one will ever know for sure. To some people, homosexuality is a matter of perception and definition. In August 2002*, Gallup asked Americans, in an open-ended format, to estimate the percentage of American men and the percentage of American women who are homosexual. The average estimates were that 21% of men are gay and 22% of women are lesbians. Can we rasonably assume that the gay Latino population has a larger standing than estimated for many reasons. Male respondents tend to give lower estimates of both the male and female homosexual population than female respondents do. Attach to that the status of “Machismo” , which is a mystery unto itself and estimating the gay Latino population is very difficult. Especially if you take into account all those on the “Download”

So my question is can gay Latinos contribute more within our gay culture and society as a whole? That is not easily answered if we assume that racial stigma and prejudice play a role in gay America as they do in straight America. In the last 10 years, the number of Americans saying they feel homosexuality should be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle has gone from 38% (June 1992) to 51% (May 2002). So things are looking up even in this climate of anti gay marriage debates taking place all over the country.

Hispanic gay couples live in nuclear-family units more often than previously assumed and have children in their households twice as often as other gay unions. his was a key finding in a national analysis of some 105,000 Latino same-sex couples released Nov. 1 by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Latino/a Coalition for Justice. These findings fly in the face of critics who base gay marriage objections on “family values.” Latinos and gays in the broader American society feel marginalized and also feel stereotyped with the gay community as a whole as well. The rights of gay Latinos are not being addressed within the white gay community in a manner that shows equality and fairness. Traditional gay rights organizations are not meeting the specific needs of the Latino community. As the Latin American population has grown in the US to more than 43 million, it is no surprise that gay Latino numbers have increased as well – to more than four million people, it is estimated. Many issued still need to be addressed and as a final note on this matter, we must take into consideration that the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s, hit Hispanic and black populations in a disproportionately higher rate. At present, epidemiologic data for the United States reveals that the Latino population is disproportionately represented in this country’s AIDS population. As a group we need to stand up and demand more attention and more rights not just from the heterosexual community in this country but also from with in our very own gay communities.

By: Rey Torres