Five Queer Latine Icons (Who Are Not Frida Kahlo)

Five Queer Latine Icons (Who Are Not Frida Kahlo)

Posted on July 26, 2023 0 Comments
5 profiles in the colors of the rainbow Pride flag

During Pride month, Progress finds inspiration in the examples, stories and impact of the queer community.

For us here at UNIDOS, Pride was an opportunity to highlight some of the contributions of Latine LGBTQ+ artists, musicians and icons.

For a lot of people, the first LGBTQ+ Latin person to come to mind would be Frida Kahlo—and for good reason. Frida Kahlo is the most famous queer Latin icon, maybe ever. Frida lived a life as colorful, severe and surreal as her paintings. Contemporaries knew her as the eccentric wife of Diego Rivera, but today she is considered a bastion of the surrealist movement and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Frida is often the first person who comes to mind for Americans when it comes to iconic Queer Latines. However, we’d like to put a spotlight on five more LGBTQ+ Latin Icons who also deserve recognition during Pride month.

Who is Chavela Vargas?

Although she didn’t come out until she was 81, the Mexican singer was well-known for singing rancheras, which are traditionally sung by men about women. Chavela Vargas had a successful musical career, releasing over 80 albums in her lifetime, including “La Llorona” (1961). Vargas was also known for openly having relationships with women, including a passionate affair with Frida Kahlo, who she described as “a being from another world.”

Who is Sylvia Rivera?

Woman with curly brown hair and a yellow striped dress

Best known as Marsha P. Johnson’s close friend, Rivera was born in NYC to a Venezuelan mother and Puerto Rican father. Rivera also co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Johnson, an organization that advocated for Queer homeless youth. Sylvia was a trailblazing trans activist, and her contributions to the LGBTQ+ movement paved the way for transgender rights, leaving a lasting impact on the fight for equality.

Who is Leiomy Maldonado?

Woman with short black hair on the red carpet

Also known as "The Wonder Woman of Vogue," Leiomy is a prominent figure in the ballroom and dance community. As a transgender woman, she has become an influential advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and representation. Leiomy's incredible talent and innovative dance moves have earned her recognition as one of the most skilled vogue dancers in the world. She has performed and competed internationally, showcasing her innovative, athletic style and captivating stage presence, inspiring countless dancers and breaking down barriers in the process. Maldonado is the founder of House Amazon, and the choreographer for FX’s award-winning series POSE.

Who is Renato Russo?

Man wearing a long sleeve shirt and glasses

A Brazilian musician and songwriter, Russo was the lead vocalist of the influential rock band Legião Urbana. His introspective and poetic lyrics resonated deeply with a generation of Brazilian youth, addressing themes of love, politics and social issues. Renato Russo's powerful voice and ability to express raw emotions through his music made him an iconic figure in Brazilian rock. His songs, such as "Pais e Filhos" and "Tempo Perdido," continue to be beloved and celebrated, solidifying his status as one of Brazil's most beloved and influential musicians.

Who is Marta Vieira da Silva?

Woman playing soccer in a yellow shirt and blue shorts

Commonly known only as Marta, the Brazilian professional footballer is considered the greatest female player in the history of the sport. She has won the FIFA World Player of the Year award a record-breaking six times, demonstrating her exceptional skill and talent. Marta's career highlights include leading the Brazilian national team to silver medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. With her speed, agility and clinical finishing, she has been a prolific goal scorer, amassing an impressive record of over 100 international goals. Off the field, Marta has been a vocal advocate for gender equality and has used her platform to empower women in sports, making her an inspirational figure both on and off the pitch.

Barbara Gurgel

Barbara is a Senior Customer Account Representative and co-leader of Progress' Hispanic Employee Resource Group, Unidos en Progress. 


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