Nancy Valverde can tell you what it was like to be out in the 1950s in Los Angeles--very difficult. LGBT people could be and were arrested by police for "masquerading"-wearing any items of clothing that the police deemed belonged "to the opposite gender." The first time that Valverde was arrested for this she was 17, according to the documentary in which Valverde appears called Nancy from Eastside Clover. In the documentary, directed by Gregorio Davila and produced by Mario J. Novoa, she recounts the abuse and harassment she encountered in the county and city jails. She also touches on her reality as a Chicana and a lesbian and an amazing moment of solidarity she experienced as Chicano men imprisoned with her took up her cause against the abusive male guards. Despite the hardships, Valverde couldn't be anyone but herself-she never has and never will hide.
Valverde's fierce strength is evident in the film as she talks about a time when even other LGBT people didn't want associate with her publicly because they thought she was "too out." She stressed that many of the LGBT people in her circle wanted to pass, but that she couldn't.
Valverde's story is part of an upcoming larger documentary Davila and Novoa are working on about Los Angeles LGBT history before Stonewall which they hope to complete by 2015.
GLAAD is sharing this story as part of Hispanic Heritage month. Although we strive to highlight the struggles and triumphs of Latino LGBT people throughout the year, it is important to point out during this time of official celebration that Latino LGBT people have and are making contributions to the larger social justice struggles and cultural realities of the United States.