UNIDAD: Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos documentary Interviewees’ Bios

(In alphabetical order by first name)

David P. Gonzales (he/him) was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and graduated from
UCLA with a BA in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. It is during this time that he identified as a
proud gay Chicano. Gonzales volunteered for the Peace Corps and served as an agricultural
volunteer and community organizer in rural El Salvador in the late 70s and early 1980s. He was
forced to leave due to the raging civil war. In 1981, he co-founded Gay and Lesbian Latinos
Unidos (GLLU), secured its non-profit status, founded and edited the UNIDAD newsletter, and
was the group’s first President. In 1986, he attended California State University Northridge and
received a science teaching credential in the Life and Physical Sciences, leading him to teach
high school biology, chemistry, and physics at John Marshall High School in Silver Lake for over
25 years. Gonzales retired from Los Angeles Unified School District in 2019.


Laura M. Esquivel (she/her) is a seasoned political and legislative strategist with more than 30
years of grassroots organizing, electoral, and policy advocacy experience. As the Vice
President for Federal Policy and Advocacy for the Hispanic Federation founded in 1990, Laura
leads its federal advocacy efforts in the areas of immigration, the environment, civil
rights, Puerto Rico disaster recovery, rebuilding, equity, LGBTQ issues, education, and health
care. Laura was Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU) first Lesbian President and the
group’s third. Esquivel earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Harvard
Kennedy School of Government, and a master’s degree in Political Science from Cal State
University Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in American Politics.
Prior to joining the Hispanic Federation, Esquivel ran a successful strategic consulting firm for
political and progressive issue campaigns led by a passion for developing strategic partnerships
to advance movements, not just issues. She has served as the Senior Vice President for
Political and Public Affairs at the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute which trains LGBTQ
candidates to run for office, and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the nation’s largest LGBTQ
political action committee, and as the Director of Research and Issue Marketing at People for
the American Way. She has worked on five U.S. presidential campaigns to engage and
motivate Latino voters and has held numerous adjunct faculty positions in political science at
California State University and other Los Angeles area colleges. Esquivel was appointed twice
by Maryland Governor O’Malley to serve in Senate-confirmed positions including five years as a
board member of the Maryland Civil Rights Commission and three years on the Maryland Legal
Services Corporation.


Louis Jacinto (he/him) began photographing in Los Angeles in 1975 and is noted for his iconic
images of the Punk Rock music scene in Los Angeles. Both Jacinto and the East Los Angeles
art collective ASCO crossed artistic paths throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, most notably in his
series of photographs documenting an art exhibit and Punk Rock music show,
“GRONKPATSSIPARTY”, curated by ASCO artists Patssi Valdez and Gronk in 1978. Three
images from that limited edition series were featured in the ASCO Retrospective which opened
in 2011 as part of the regional Pacific Standard Time: Art In Los Angeles 1945 – 1980.
In 1981 and 1982 Jacinto was the official photographer for the Sunset Junction Street Fair in
Los Angeles, and it was during this time that he encountered Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos
(GLLU) and became actively involved in this social and political organizing organization for the
next decade. He has exhibited throughout the greater Los Angeles area as well as in dozens of

2 cities in the U.S. and abroad. His work was included in the museum exhibition Axis Mundo:
Queer Connections in Chicano L.A., which traveled to eight museums from 2017-2022. Louis
was named a 2020 Cultural Trailblazer by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural
Affairs. That same year he opened onodream Gallery, a virtual exhibition venue highlighting
under recognized artists. He has been a community organizer and has worked at several
community-based organizations to improve the lives of children and families.

 

Author Lydia R. Otero (they/them) is currently working on a memoir of their life in Los Angeles
during the 1980s and early 1990s. During that time, they worked as an electrician, and their
labor helped construct some of the most iconic structures in Los Angeles, including the U.S.
Bank Tower, Universal Studios’ City Walk, and the Metro Rail. During those years, they also
immersed themselves in Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU). In 1983, Otero was one of
the founders of Lesbianas Unidas (LU) and formed the core group that organized the Latina
Lesbian Retreats and also co-chaired LU for several years. In 1988 and 1989, they served two
terms as GLLU President as the group launched Bienestar: A Gay Latino HIV/AIDS Project, the
largest agency of its kind in the U.S.

 

After leaving GLLU in 1992, Otero acquired a PhD in History and was a tenured professor in the
Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. They currently live in
Tucson, Arizona and spends most of their time researching and writing. Otero’s past
publications include La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwestern City
(University of Arizona Press, 2010), focused on a 1966 urban renewal project. In the Shadows
of the Freeway: Growing Up Brown & Queer (Planet Earth Press, 2019) merges personal
memoir and the historical archive to investigate formative childhood aspects such as
environmental racism and unresolved intergenerational trauma. Their book compilation, Notitas:
Select Columns from the Tucson Citizen was released in 2021.

 

Rita C. Gonzales (she/her) began her community involvement in Gay and Lesbian Latinos
Unidos (GLLU), the oldest LGBTQ Latino organization in Southern California, where she served
as President in 1986. Gonzales has since served on several boards of directors, including

Connexxus, an organization for women, the Los Angeles Stonewall Democratic Club, as the co-
chair of the people of color committee, the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives, and the

OUTFEST committee that established Fusion, the first people of color film festival. She was also
on the advisory board for Women On A Roll, an organization for women seeking alternative
recreational activities. Gonzales currently chairs the Bienestar Human Services board of
directors, a Latino health education agency that she has been affiliated with since its founding in
1989, and originally a committee of GLLU created at the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
In 1986, Gonzales began her affiliation with radio through the “Radio GLLU” show of which she
was a co-host and editor for 11 years. In 1995, she co-hosted the newly formatted show IMRU,
one of the longest running gay and lesbian radio programs in Southern California. Since that
time she has worked as a segment producer, technical engineer, board operator, editor, and the
executive producer of IMRU. Gonzales is currently co-producing a new LGBT radio webcast
program on KPFK called “The Out Agenda”. In 2007, she co-hosted the Christopher Street
Pride Parade. She is the recipient of many awards for her activism, including the L.A. LGBT
Center’s LACE Award, CSW/PRIDE Woman of the Year, Honor 41, West Hollywood Rainbow,
APAIT Media Award and the Melissa Etheridge Award. She has two Los Angeles Emmys for
her work on an AIDS segment on L.A. KIDS, a children’s program that aired in the 1990s.

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Roland Palencia (he/him) is the Community Benefits Director and a corporate trainer at L.A.
Care Health Plan, the largest public health plan in the nation. He is the former Executive
Director of Clinica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero and Equality California, the multi-County
Regional Director at The California Endowment, and Chief of Operations and Vice-President at
the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. In 2001, Palencia was honored as a “Local Hero” by KCET
(PBS affiliate) and Union Bank of California. In the early 1980s, he became one of the founders
and a pioneer of the blossoming LGBTQ Latin@ movement in the greater Los Angeles area,
including co-founding Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU) and becoming the group’s
second President. He has been featured in a number of books and publications such as “Gay
L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians” by Stuart Timmons
and Lilian Faderman (2006). “Central Americans in Los Angeles” by Rosamaria Segura (2010);
and “The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle” by Lilian Faderman (2015).
The 165-page Master thesis by David Guzman, M.A. (CSUN 2014) records Palencia’s life
journey as a Guatemalan political refugee and community activist. He is the Executive Producer
of “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” a documentary depicting the life and activism of the
nationally renowned Trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo. He received a B.A. in History from
UCLA and an M.A. in the Engaged Humanities from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is a former
lecturer at California State University Northridge (CSUN) Central American Studies Department
and a Professor at CSUN’s Tseng College in the Diverse Community Development Leadership
Master of Arts program (Fall 2022).

 

Veronica Flores (she/her) is the Chief Executive Officer of Community Health Councils, Inc.
(CHC), serving the communities of South Los Angeles and beyond. As a seasoned senior-level
executive and entrepreneur, Flores’ professional legacy is based on disrupting and dismantling
the inequitable systems that continue to drive disparities across the nation. Due to her deep
desire to cause radical change and committed to racial equity, social justice, anti-poverty, and
sustainability, Flores has always identified herself as a disruptor. Her work as a social disruptor
in South Los Angeles commenced in the 1980’s when she joined Minority AIDS Project as the
Director of Women’s Programs. In this role, she developed and implemented the first Women of
Color AIDS Coalition and the first Women of Color Buddy Training Program in LA County while
she also penned the first educational brochure in Spanish aimed at women at risk for HIV. She
was GLLU’s Lesbianas Unidas co-Chair.

 

Flores is a former Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Southern California - Sol
Price School of Public Policy, and served as Co-Chair for the Los Angeles County Community
Prevention & Population Health Task Force. She is an Action Team member addressing the
Board motion of Equity in County Contracting; a Taskforce member of Facilitating the
Development of a ‘Just Transition’ to Clean Energy; Community Research Ambassador to City
of Hope Medical Center; member of Charles Drew University President’s Advisory Council;
Advisory Board Member to the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS); Leadership Board
Member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council; Advisory Member to Insure the Uninsured
Project (ITUP); and board member of Liberty Hill Foundation. Flores received her M.A. in
Human and Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University and her B.A. in
Psychology from California State University Los Angeles.