Lesbian-themed ‘Blue Jean’ Examines Section 28, ‘UNIDAD Remembers Queer Latino Organization by Jim Farmer
Now streaming and available on public television throughout the month, “Unidad: Gay & Lesbian Latinos Unidos” is a documentary that looks at the Los Angeles organization Gay & Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU), which was established in 1981. The organization was one of the first major queer Latino organizations in the country and the film charts its early days of activism. It’s directed by Gregorio Davila and produced by Mario Novoa.
The two also worked on the film, “L.A.: A Queer History,” currently on PBS. In it, one of the interviewees talks about LA’s history and mentioned GLLU.
“As queer Latino filmmakers, we gravitated obviously towards something we identified with and we always talked about the lack of representation growing up,” Novoa said. “As we were realizing our identity, those stories would have been important to hear and be a part of. GLUU became a really strong voice for the gay and lesbian Latino community at the time.”
Davila echoed those sentiments.
“Growing up as a queer Latino, there were no organizations or stories that I knew of,” he said. “I didn’t know of GLLU — there was no internet back then.”
Coming out of Stonewall into the queer rights movement of the ’70s, people at the time felt empowered. “They were encouraged by the Black civil rights movement and all of the movements happening from the ’60s to the ’70s were evolving,” says Novoa. “Chicano history tells us that was happening for Latinos, specifically in the Southwest of the country, so you had this empowering moment for everyone. Gay and lesbian Latinos were trying to form some sort of coalition, to work on policy.”
Although GLUU is no longer around, Davila feels that if the organization were, it would be on the cutting edge of current activism. “They have always been very adaptive; they started off all male and quickly realized they needed women in the organization. Not many people self-identified as trans, but I am sure the organization [today] would be on the leading edge of inclusion.”
“Blue Jean” is now in area theaters
“Unidad: Gay & Lesbian Latinos Unidos” is available June 24 on Georgia area public television channels and is also on streaming.