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It’s Latinx Heritage Month, also known as Hispanic Heritage Month. According to hispanicheritagemonth.gov, this observance, “traditionally honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries.” For over 50 years, the country has honored the collective ancestry of millions of Americans from the diverse Latinx community during this month, celebrated from September 15th through October 15th.
Wondering why this celebration starts and ends mid-month? This is because between these dates, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile and Beliz celebrate their independence days and the national day of Spain (“Fiesta Nacional de España”) falls on October 12th. Recognizing this month is important because it allows us to learn more about the history of the Latinx community and honor the role Latinx people have played in shaping this country’s history and culture.
Join us in our celebration by getting to know more about our staff members and their thoughts on what makes them most proud to be Latinx, how they keep their cultures alive, why access to sexual health care is essential to the Latinx community, and more.
What makes me most proud to be Latinx is the ability to celebrate similar cultural festivities as a Mexican American! I am so proud of how beautiful Mexico is – I mean have you seen the movie Coco? Mexico lindo y querido is a country filled with vibrant colors and mouthwatering flavors of food! Another thing that makes me proud of my heritage is being able to communicate effectively with our Latinx communities without any barriers.
Ano Nuevo (New Year’s) in Monterrey, N.L. Mexico! We get balloons all over the entrance wall and turn on the radio around 11:50 p.m. to do the New Year countdown! We each hold our 12 grapes for 12 wishes, and everyone wears the calzones (undergarments) for what you want the new year to bring you! (yellow- money, red-love, green-good luck) We take fireworks from here and go pop them in Mexico! Everything is just more exciting over there! My favorite part is when they are grilling some carne asada, and dancing in the street to welcome the New Year because everything is better when you are dancing!
The ways I keep my culture alive is by wearing my Mexican tops, watching Frida lol jk! Honestly just listening to Mexican music & cooking up some delicious Mexican recipes. (enchiladas, mole, flautas, tortillas de maiz). I also keep my culture alive by taking my little girl to Mexico as often as we can.
I think it is important for the Latinx community to seek sexual health care because we must put an end to the stigma! Enough years have gone by where we were not allowed to speak openly about our sexual pleasures and preferences. We must continue to collaborate and work together for the prevention of STIs, and other health conditions. Through the years we have had to deal with health disparities. Thankfully we have clinics like Kind Clinic who are here at no cost for ALL of our community! So, come one, come all for your sexual health care needs con orgullo!
I think, for me, I’m most proud of being Latinx because of the food. Like, from northern Mexico to the most southern end of Chile food varies widely but it is all good. There are soups and stews of all kinds for when you are cold. Then, when you are hot, there are a variety of refreshments to choose from. No matter what kind of protein or meat substitute you like, you can find something delicious from chicken mole to a Brazilian feijoada. I just love all the delicious food the Latinx community has and I love that it all has ties to the Native/Indigenous people of the region you are in.
Creo que, para mí, lo que más me enorgullece de ser Latinx es la comida. Por ejemplo, desde el norte de México hasta el extremo más al sur de Chile, la comida varía mucho y todo es muy rico. Hay sopas y guisos de todo tipo para cuando hace frío. Luego, cuando hace calor, hay una variedad de refrigerios para elegir. No importa qué tipo de proteína o sustituto de carne te guste, puedes encontrar algo delicioso – desde mole de pollo en México hasta una feijoada brasileña. Me encanta toda la comida que tiene la comunidad Latinx y me encanta que todo tiene una conexión con los pueblos nativos / la gente indígena de la región en la que te encuentras.
As someone born in Mexico, raised in the US but trying to reconnect with my roots, I think Dia de Muertos is my favorite tradition in Latinx culture. I think as people, we all do our best every day and that we have gotten to become the great people that we are through hard work and dedication but not just our own. I think we owe a lot to our ancestors because but I think we have a community of elders, alive or who have passed away, who kept many of our traditions alive – even when we were too young to appreciate them. And I think Dia de Muertos (with its indigenous roots) is a great way to honor everyone who came before us and that why it’s my favorite.
Como alguien que nació en México y fue criado en los EE. UU., pero está tratando de reconectarse con mis raíces, creo que el Día de Muertos es mi tradición favorita en la cultura Latinx. Creo que como personas todos le echamos esfuerzo todos los días y que hemos llegado a convertirnos en las grandes personas que somos a través del trabajo duro y la dedicación, pero no solo los nuestros. Yo creo que les debemos mucho a nuestros antepasados, vivos o fallecidos, porque por ellos nuestras tradiciones siguen vivas – aun incluso cuando éramos demasiado jóvenes para apreciarlas. Para mí, creo que el Día de Muertos (con sus raíces indígenas) es una excelente manera de honrar a todos los que vinieron antes que nosotros y por eso es mi celebración favorita.
I think building community and sharing our culture with each other and younger generations is the best way to keep our culture alive. Yes, people from Nicaragua and Paraguay have different traditions and customs but in keeping our friends and family engaged, we can continue to be a thriving community here in the USA – no matter how we dress, what we eat, what we believe or how we engaged depending on our heritage. What matters is creating community.
Creo que en construir lazos comunitarios y en compartir nuestra cultura con los demás (incluyendo con generaciones más jóvenes) nosotros podemos mantener viva nuestra cultura. Sí, las personas de Nicaragua y Paraguay tienen tradiciones y costumbres diferentes, pero al mantener a nuestros amigos y familiares comprometidos, podemos seguir siendo una comunidad próspera aquí en los EE. UU., No importa cómo nos vistamos, qué comamos, qué creemos o cómo comprometidos en función de nuestra herencia. Los que importa es construir una comunidad.
I think it is important for the Latinx community to seek sexual health care because we often do not learn what we need to learn about sex and sexual health at home. Since colonization, sex and sexual health have been stigmatized and generations of Latinx community members do not know how to take ownership of their bodies or agency over the need of a good orgasm. It’s not that we have been failed by our parents or caregivers, it’s just that culturally, we have been removed from the very part of our lives we connect with to everything else – our body. I think sex is fun. I think sex can be great. But I think knowing your body and sharing a toe-curling orgasm with another person is essential.
Creo que es importante que la comunidad Latinx busque atención de salud sexual porque no aprendemos lo que necesitamos aprender sobre el sexo y la salud sexual en nuestras casas. Desde la colonización, el sexo y la salud sexual han sido estigmatizados y generaciones de miembros de la comunidad Latinx no saben cómo apropiarse de sus cuerpos o actuar sobre la necesidad de un buen orgasmo. No es que nuestros padres o cuidadores nos hayan fallado, es solo que culturalmente, la colonización nos ha alejado de la parte de nuestras vidas con la que nos conectamos con todo lo demás: nuestros cuerpos. Creo que el sexo es divertido. Creo que el sexo puede ser genial. Pero creo que conocer tu cuerpo y compartir un orgasmo en que se encrespa los dedos de los pies es esencial.
I love that we have similar, shared cultural experiences even though we don’t come from the same households. I remember when the reboot of One Day at a Time premiered on Netflix, which follows the stories of a Cuban-American family, and even though I’m Mexican-American I still resonated with so many of the cultural aspects of the family in the show! Speaking in Spanglish, la chancla, el cucuy, la familia, there’s so many things that connect us to one another!
I’m not too sure if it counts as a “celebration” but my most cherished memory was being taught how to make homemade tortillas by my grandma. A veryyyyyyyyyyy close second is drunkenly singing along to old Tejano songs at anyone’s quinceañera. “Y VOLVER VOLVER, VOLVEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR”
In my family, food is a big deal. I’m constantly trying to perfect things like my rice recipe so that it comes out just like my mom’s so that one day if I have children I can teach them, too. I tried teaching my cats, pero like they just wanted to eat, not learn. – Tambien, I also host Lotería as Grandma Steven all over town (shout out to Frida Friday ATX!) and swap stories of growing up and traditions with members of the audience!
Growing up, there were SEVERAL things we did not speak about, sexual matters being one of those things. We also had SEVERAL home remedies and never went to the doctor. Sana sana colita de rana, Vix vaporub, and an egg might do the trick sometimes but it doesn’t treat gonorrhea! Breaking those cultural barriers and speaking about the unspeakable can really empower someone to make healthy, informed decisions about their body and the bodies around them! <3
So many things about my culture make me proud. The vibrancy of the food, music, and traditions are all so important to who I am today, but I think I’m the most proud have having a tradition of strong and proud matriarchs who instill values and heritage in the home. They also keep us in check. My grandma never had to raise a chancla or her voice because it was all in a look. That s!*t is real!
Mexican weddings or quinces always stick out in my mind, but I have to say getting together for the holidays, with extended family, hold the best memories. You can’t beat drinking Abuelita’s hot chocolate and eating tamales on Christmas Eve at your favorite Tia’s.
I celebrate my culture in my art and traditions at home through cooking and decorating for Mexican holidays. Nowadays, I like to celebrate Easter with my nephews and nieces by driving down with a road-side bunny piñata and a large plastic bag full of cascarones.
We need to start fighting stigma and biases that exist in our communities. Growing up, I learned everything about sex from older cousins but we never talked about STI’s and HIV. You just don’t talk about sex, and definitely not gay sex. Even seeking healthcare can be a last resort, and I do honor and respect other forms of traditional wellness like my Grandma waving an egg over me when I was sick (I swear it works). However, we have to speak out against machismo culture and have conversations about HIV for healthier outcomes when our people are progressing from HIV to AIDS diagnoses at higher rates than other populations. Too many of our people have died in shame and silence because we don’t talk about HIV. The way we celebrate our families and heritage has to be carried through in the way we think about our sexual health!
What makes me the proudest to be Latina is our culture, values, and language. Spanish is just a beautiful language, and I am honored to speak both languages, English and Spanish. The Latinx culture is such a unique and family-oriented community that you do not have to be blood-related to be part of the family. Like they say, “Mi casa es tu casa!”
Yes, my favorite holiday is a combination of Christmas Eve and Christmas. It’s a time where my family puts all troubles behind and reunites for one special night. My mom has five siblings, and all families come together to celebrate Christmas at our Abuelita’s house, who passed away 15 years ago. Although she is no longer with us, this is a way we get to include her in the celebration. About 25+ of my family members come and we eat tamales, pozole, carne asada, frijoles charros, buñuelos, etc. We stay up all night and open presents at midnight (Christmas Day), the best part of all.
I keep my culture alive by speaking the language daily, cooking authentic Mexican food, and celebrating las Fiestas Patrias. I also invite non-Latinx friends to join the party and introduce them to my culture. It’s all about having a good time with tacos, cerveza, tequila, and a little Mariachi.
YES! Unfortunately, in the Latinx culture, sexual health is an unspoken topic. Something we all know exists, but we don’t discuss it. However, I believe sex should not be a topic we hide, but something we discuss since it’s part of life and our health. Latinx people are all about the party, so why not talk and seek health care about the party that happens in our own beds?!
I’m very proud of who I am and where I come from. I enjoy sharing all that makes us different people and try to make those around me see the good things that my country has to offer. I am from El Salvador, a small country with beautiful lakes, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, and religious small towns. But what really makes me proud of being Latinx is that no matter which country you come from, Latinx people in general are known as hard working, understanding, helpful, sweet and lovely people. No matter what is going on in our lives or what we’re going through, we always find a way to make life a bit easier.
I would say that my favorite celebration is Semana Santa (“Holy Week”). There is a procession on Easter Sunday after mass, but this is not the most distinctive aspect of El Salvadorean Holy Week. Instead, it is the alfombras or “street carpets.” These are colorful designs made out of colored rice, sawdust, or flowers, that are laid down right in the street on Good Friday. Also, December because we celebrate with big get togethers with family and friends, with lots of food, music, and fireworks. These celebrations are unique and I miss that part of my country.
I would say just being me and not letting my culture go away or trying to change it. Also, cooking traditional El Salvadorean food like Pupusas, and keeping communication with my family and friends from back home keeps my culture alive.
It’s important for the Latinx community to seek sexual health care because a lot of people don’t know about it. In my opinion, I would say this is because we don’t have the same systems for sexual health. We aren’t taught how to take good care of ourselves when it comes to sex – all we are taught is the importance of using condoms, lube, knowing your limits, STI testing, talking to your partners bout their status, etc. I would say that those are the most common precautionary measures. A lot people don’t know that there are more precautionary measures like PrEP and PEP for HIV prevention. So for those out there, please make sure to take good care of your sexual health.
This isn’t just Latinx folks, and not all Latinx folks, but I greatly appreciate the focus on extended family. For me it’s like unconditional love. You may not always agree, drift away, or even fight with each other, but in the end, family is family. Heck, we even make newcomers part of our familia as well!
For me it is all the childhood memories of Easter. Dying eggs and assembling cascarones. Packing the family up to head to the lake for the day. Spending time with all my relatives, even the ones I didn’t know were related! Easter egg hunts in the mesquite and tumbleweeds. Mexican music, eating, drinking, and getting home to watch the Wizard of Oz on CBS!
As I get older, I am enjoying helping younger fellow Latinx folx and other POC learn more about structural and institutional barriers (like in higher education). I want them to know they are not alone. As I get older and enter more spaces of privilege with fewer people who look like me or share a similar lived experience, I commit myself even more to helping my fellow POC to access these spaces.
I believe the Latinx culture often promotes valuing the group above the self. My experience was being taught to value relationships and relational intimacy, but also being very private about sexual matters—or ignoring them altogether. You know… tener vergüenza. Latinx LGBTQIA+ tend to face additional barriers to achieving self-fulfillment, so the more we can do to empower them, the better. We can show them how to take care of others by taking care of themselves – particularly through sexual health and wellness.
I am proud to be Latinx for may reasons. The first and foremost reason I am proud to be Latinx is for the culture that includes family, traditions and history. Individuals who identify as Latinx, Hispanic or even Chicano have so many perspectives on our culture. For this reason of diversity within a culture, I love our heritage! I identify as Mexican-American, whereas I have a friend who identifies as Cuban-American. We both possess the rich culture of being Latinx but may have slightly different traditions. I also love how family oriented we can be! I know this may not be relevant for all Latinx people, but I relate to this quality. The second and most important reason I am proud to be Latinx are the established traditions. We gather for so many celebrations including Quinceañeras, weddings (have to include the dollar dance) and, best of all, birthday parties with piñatas! In Latinx culture, family and food tend to be a common theme when we talk about our traditions. I always look forward to our “tamale making” tradition every year. In our family, we gather right before Thanksgiving and make a day of “tamale making shenanigans.” For individuals who don’t know the importance of this tradition, just know this is a time to get a hold of the most recent chisme (gossip). Now getting to eat the tamales at the end of the day, of course, is the most delicious and rewarding event! I am also proud to be Latinx for my rich golden brown skin color! My mom used to tell us we were the most beautiful when our skin is the darkest and our eyes radiate with rich “cocoa like” color. I feel proud to be a woman of color in the tapestry of vivid colors.
I do have many memories of traditions but the one that comes to mind is a funny story. As a little girl, my parents would go and visit family in “the valley.” For those who don’t know “the valley,” I am not talking about the San Fernando Valley in California, but the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas! One particular time when I was 8 years old, we drove down to the valley to visit family. We would all crowd in one house and sleep anywhere space would allow, including the floor. I loved this time because I would spend hours talking with my cousins. A second thing I remember is the food. This particular visit, I didn’t see anything cooking on the stove and asked my mother, “Where is the food?” She asked me to follow her outside to an area in the backyard. I saw smoke coming out from a burlap sack placed on the ground. I asked her, “Why is there a hole in the ground?” She said, “You’ll see.” We went back in the house. Needless to say, I did see later in the day when my uncle yelled, “It’s ready!” I looked at the table in great surprise to see the head of a cow, with its eyes looking at me and tongue hanging out. All my family members were picking at the head with a fork and placing the meat in a tortilla. I of course said, “EWWW! I am not eating that!” My mom said, “You always like barbacoa!” I replied, “I didn’t know it was cow head!!!” I stopped eating barbacoa for a short amount of time….but, I now love it.
I worry about this particular question. Not because I don’t keep my culture alive, but because I worry our future generations will lose its value. I make it a point to teach my children all our traditions and to model the love of my culture. Our family loves to tell stories and this is another way we keep our culture alive. I have a great grandmother named Mama Lipa. I never met Mama Lipa, but I’ve heard her stories of how she traveled from Mexico with her children and how savvy she was as an entrepreneur. My great grandfather did not come across to the U.S. with her and she still managed to survive and find work. She even owned land back in the 1940’s in Texas. This was unheard of for a Mexican woman at that time. When we speak of our history and how our families struggled and survived, we keep our culture alive. Unfortunately, history books do not accurately represent Latinx people. I believe our elders give us the history through their stories. As a people, we can overcome so many obstacles by listening to our heritage and history to know we are from the ancestors of indigenous tribes in the Americas.
I think sexual health care is so important for the Latinx community. Unfortunately, we do not speak about sex for so many reasons, including religion and fear of our children engaging in sexual activity. I believe there is a way to speak openly about sexual health and wellness. As times have changed, the Latinx community has to evolve with that change. Unfortunately, Latinx youth obtain information on sexual health care through gossip or the internet. As we all know, these sources are not the most reliable. I believe we must begin with education and community engagement. When our communities are informed with the proper “sex positivity” knowledge, then we can create the change that is so desperately needed. Unfortunately, Texas has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and other sexually transmitted infections. As a culture, we have to begin by arming our Latinx communities with the information, resources and support that they need. Sexual health can be a taboo topic in Latinx households, but that can change with more awareness and guidance. The Latinx community continues to be a marginalized and vulnerable population. I feel proud to be working for Texas Health Action’s Kind Clinic so that I may be one of the “change agents” for my Latinx community!
The broad cultural richness and creativity stemming from every region. From language to food to music, there’s always something exciting about experiencing our deep traditional roots that have evolved over time.
Every year on Easter weekend, thousands of folks in the vicinity of Northern New Mexico make a pilgrimage from their homes to El Santuario De Chimayó, a church built in 1816 said to have sacred healing powers for those who pray there. I had the privilege of making this traditional pilgrimage with my extended family while I was just 12 years old, walking over 10 miles from the crack of dawn without stopping. This was one of the first instances I felt I belonged to a culture that wasn’t upheld by broad American traditions.
Aside from devouring my family’s excellent green and red chile posole, tamales, pico de gallo, and biscochitos, supporting Latinx-owned businesses and institutions is a way I enjoy highlighting our culture; there’s a wealth of innovative art and food that continues to live on from important and meaningful traditions.
While most of us have been raised to keep our sexuality on the DL, speaking up and actively engaging in sexual health is necessary for our continued well-being as a community. It’s a beautiful thing to see Latinx folks come together and feel empowered by a form of self-care that was once taboo.
Belonging to a such a rich culture full of centuries-old Mexican traditions that have been passed down for us to carry on makes me most proud to be Latinx. Also, hearing about the sacrifices that my great grandparents and grandparents made for their families, so future generations could have a better life never ceases to amaze me.
My favorite memory growing up would have to be Christmas time at my Grandma Gomez’s house. I’m from South Texas, otherwise known as “The Valley,” (The Rio Grande Valley, not San Fernando), and all my family from out of town would visit for the holidays and stay at my grandma’s house for a few days. Our parents would set up the sofas and lay down comforters on the floor for my cousins and I to sleep on. We’d stay up late playing pranks, while trying not to wake up our parents, and on Christmas morning, we’d wake up to half-eaten conchas and an empty glass of milk. Needless to say, we were shook. Santa ate pan dulce, too! Then, we’d spend the rest of the day opening gifts, eating tamales, and playing with our new toys in the resaca across the street.
I keep my culture alive by continuing to learn more about our history, cooking traditional Mexican food, and immersing myself in the culture when I travel to Mexico. For my most recent birthday, I gathered up some of my best friends to explore Mexico City for the first time. Even though we were only there for a weekend, it gave me a new appreciation for an area of Mexico that holds such historical significance in my culture. We met locals and took their advice on where to visit, what to do, and ended up becoming friends with a few of them. Hands down, one of my favorite experiences. 10/10 would recommend.
It’s critical to continue to destigmatize sex and sexual health care in the Latinx community. Growing up in South Texas, access to LGBTQIA+ resources was extremely limited and talking about sex, especially gay sex, to anyone wasn’t an option. Normalizing discussions around safe sex and educating our community about the tools available to them now is incredibly important, and is what motivates me every day in my work in the sexual health care field.
I love the culture and music. Most importantly the fact that my family raised us to be extremely close and that family is everything, even our friends become our family.
MY QUINCE! You know I am always down for a good party! I know traditionally it is a girl’s right to passage into womanhood and means she can now be wed. Obvi those weren’t my parents intentions, but the fact that they threw me an over-the-top birthday party and it brought together my family and friends was amazing! I cannot wait to plan my daughter, Willow’s!
I always say that my small group of friends are my family. Maybe it is just my family but we are big on “mi casa es su casa.”
I don’t think sexual health is talked about enough or at all in our community. We are traditional in the sense that we should marry before having sex but news flash: no one is doing that! If you are, then good for you! Instead, we should be educating our community on how to protect themselves and others when it comes to having sex, and to be supportive with who they choose to have sex with.
My great grandmother Maximina Zaragosa makes me proud to be a Latinx woman. She was a soldadera during the Mexican Revolution and was the true definition of a chingona!
My fondest memory is making sugar skulls with my mom for Dia De Los Muertos and setting up our family ofrenda. It was a time for us to reflect on our family members that had passed and hear stories of their journeys to the U.S.
I keep my culture alive through food. In my family, we celebrate life, death and every other milestone with a feast. It is important to me to be able to continue that tradition with the generations to come. So, I am slowly collecting hand written recipes from my grandparents and parents to pass down.
I think it is important for the Latinx community to seek sexual health care because, at least for me, sex was not a topic of discussion in my household and the only reason I know what I know about sexual health is because of places like Kind Clinic. A place that offers a safe and stigma-free environment to ask those basic questions about sex and your love making bits that should have been taught early on. The more you know about your sexual health the more empowered you are!
Sources: National Hispanic Heritage Month
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