Photo courtesy of Hispanicize

Every April 26, we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day, an observance inaugurated in 2008 to commemorate and celebrate lesbians and call on governments and institutions to promote equal rights. In fact, from April 25th to May 1st, many countries observe the Lesbian Visibility Week.

But what about Latinas?

The acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in the Latino community has not been easy to achieve. Although there is still a long way to go, despite the prejudices, these three Latina lesbians decided to live their lives freely, helping to build a society that accepts and values us all equally.

Nancy Cárdenas

Not a well-known name to everyone, but Nancy Cárdenas is an icon in the history of feminism and the struggle for civil rights in Mexico. Born in Coahuila, Mexico, in 1993, Cardenas was an actress, poet, journalist, writer, playwright, theater director, radio broadcaster, and activist. 

Cárdenas made history in her native country after becoming the first woman to come out of the closet and publicly defend sexual diversity during an interview on national television in 1973. Despite this being her most memorable moment, Nancy Cárdenas has transcended the history of Mexico by being a pioneer in the gay liberation movement by co-founding the first homosexual organization, ‘El Frente de Liberación Homosexual’ (The Homosexual Liberation Front). In 1975, Cárdenas presented the first gay theater play, and in 1978 she led the first gay pride march in her native country.

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa 

Born in 1942, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was a political activist, feminist, academic, and perhaps one of the most important queer Latina writers of all time. Anzaldúa explored the theories of feminism and homosexuality and how to navigate between her queer and Chicana identity. 

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” is one of her most recognized works for being an important part of feminist and Chicana/o studies, along with the co-editing of ‘This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color

Chavela Vargas

Originally from Costa Rica but based in Mexico, Chavela Vargas was an actress and singer famous for challenging societal norms through her music and image as a “marimacha” — a derogatory way of saying “tomboy” in Spanish. Vargas gained recognition across an entire continent for singing rancheras, a traditional genre usually sung by men back in her time.
Vargas would not openly tell the world that she was a lesbian until her autobiography, “Y Si Quieres Saber De Mi Pasado,” was published in the early 2000s. However, many assumed so, especially after rumors that she had an affair with artist Frida Kahlo.