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A Special Message From Executive Director, Christopher Cuevas

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As 2016 came to a close and the humming sounds of kazoos and laughter filled the air, I sat enveloped in awe of the beauty and resiliency of the QLatinx community and silently meditated on a year that so many are thankful to put behind them. In my reflection, I recalled some of the most difficult and challenging moments that we as a community were forced to face; the loss of 49 innocent and beautiful lives, the reality that our safety and security were not guaranteed, the unveiling of massive gaps in the larger infrastructure, most principally in its absence of supporting, empowering, and uplifting marginalized queer and transgender communities of color, and the ever expanding violence and oppression directed toward our otherness. It is clear that there is much needed work to be done to remedy these challenges, and to awaken a new consciousness in our leaders and in our communities, to ensure the most disenfranchised are given access to and empowered to become leaders themselves that can serve as conduits in which to bring about long-lasting positive change.

It has been humbling to share space and be in community with the individuals that embody the unique intersections that represent the breadth of diversity within the larger Central Florida queer community. Through our collective struggles, through the most challenging of times, and through our shared lived experiences we have been blessed to connect with the hearts, minds, and souls of the members of this community. We would like to express our most sincere and heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the individuals, the agencies, and the institutions that have stood in solidarity with our work - and that continue to demonstrate their support of the mission and vision of QLatinx.

We were founded in circles for healing, comprised of the individuals in this community that expressed a need and desire to be both in support of one another and to find a sense of grounding in themselves following the Pulse tragedy. In these sacred circles tears were shed, hands were held, hugs were exchanged, knees were shaky, and laughter was shared, as we worked diligently to cultivate a safe and supportive space to emote and provide a means to take the difficult first steps toward the path of healing. The genesis of our work has been, and remains, the care and support of our community, as we seek to address the growing and evolving needs and challenges that we must all carry with us. Through the valiant and compassionate actions of our community we have sought to address the inequity that has been allowed to permeates our culture, to combat the oppression that further marginalizes our identities, and aid in the development of an infrastructure that is constructed with the intricate identities of our community at its forefront.

In my heart, I have known the strength that community healing can bring, and the foundation of our work has been rooted in this practice. I forever will honor and cherish my time with these incredible community leaders, and am consistently inspired by their work. Through their leadership, and the steadfast support of the members of our community we have, and continue to, work toward revitalizing the landscape of our community, educating and advocating for our rights and our identities, and empowering the most marginalized voices in our communities to become the change-makers.

2016 was a year that we shall always recall as one filled with trauma and heartache, and as we forge a new path forward we seek to honor the lives ripped from our community, comfort the survivors and loved ones of the deceased endlessly, and commit ourselves to ensuring that in this new year we stand united and affirmed in our efforts of bring this change. We will build coalitions across identities, standing in solidarity with other marginalized communities, and addressing bigoted and oppressive systems that seek to further persecute the very essence of our self.

2017 is the year in which we will no longer remain silent, it is the year in which we shall summon our collective strength and challenge the provocations against our communities, where we shall work ceaselessly toward improving the conditions of our community, and centering the voices of the individuals that live authentically within our communities in order to usher in a new era of hope, change, and progress for the betterment of us all.

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