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Stonewall: 50 Years Later, A Talk about the LGBTQ Community in the U.S. and Perú

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Stationed in Trujillo as a Fulbright teaching assistant, Senior Fellow Kenny Martin felt inspired by the situation of the LGBTQ community around him and his own membership in that community. Though aware of the unique and complex position he was in as a foreigner in a land and culture that was not his own, he felt the importance of trying to contribute in whatever way he could to help end the struggle for legal rights and social acceptance.

Kenny marching in Trujillo’s LGBTQ pride parade.

“Trujillo was, and remains, in vital need of projects that give compassionate voice to the struggle, past and present, for LGBTQ rights and acceptance.”

The city of Trujillo, Perú is home to a growing and lively LGBTQ community. That community, however, still faces a severe struggle for legal rights and social acceptance. Perú is a highly Catholic country, and society at large remains heavily influenced by Latin American norms of machismo. Safety for LGBTQ people is a concern, particularly for trans women. Public displays of affection are very rare and risky. LGBTQ life is not very visible and the topic in general is politely avoided at best and openly disparaged at worst. “Trujillo was, and remains, in vital need of projects that give compassionate voice to the struggle, past and present, for LGBTQ rights and acceptance.”

“I believe robustly in the importance of open, patient, and graceful dialogue to successfully creating social change, and my event “Stonewall: 50 Años Después” was my chosen way of putting that belief into action.”

Kenny felt compelled to share his American LGBTQ perspective, but wanted to create a space where he could share without overshadowing the stories and perspectives of his Peruvian LGBTQ colleagues. Kenny had reflected on similar considerations during his HiA fellowship, working with KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) in Warsaw, and wanted to create a project that would allow him to continue engaging in cross-cultural LGBTQ activism and education.

As he pondered all of this, Kenny remembered that the year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that many people recognize as sparking the modern movement for LGBTQ rights in the U.S. and around the world. He realized that this could be the opportunity to share his American perspective with the community in Trujillo, while opening a space for that community to share its own perspective in turn.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that many people recognize as sparking the modern movement for LGBTQ rights in the U.S. and around the world

Kenny Martin spoke about the history of the Stonewall Riots.

With a strong academic background in queer studies and histories, Kenny decided to create a talk along with a presentation and discussion at the Peruvian-American Binational Center, El Cultural, about the history of the Stonewall Riots and the lessons people can learn from them today. The event occurred on the 50th anniversary of the rebellion, and approached the contemporary struggle of LGBTQ communities in Perú and the U.S. through the lens of history and education.

His efforts of reaching out to LGBTQ, community, cultural and educational organizations in order to spread word, ultimately led to a lively and engaged audience, and a wonderful evening of learning, cultural interchange, and newfound mutual understanding among people who, in many cases, previously knew very little about each other.

“…ultimately led to a lively and engaged audience, and a wonderful evening of learning, cultural interchange, and newfound mutual understanding among people who, in many cases, previously knew very little about each other.”

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