National Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month is an annual observance of the remarkable achievements that Americans who identify as Hispanic, Latinx, Latino, and Latina have made throughout history. The celebration runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, and encompasses the national independence days of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile and Belize — just a snapshot of the many places to which people in the community can trace their roots.
Hispanic, Latinx, Latino, and Latina traditions have made and continue to make an undeniable impact on daily American life, from the food we eat and the music we listen to, to the ways we communicate with one another. During the month, we reflect on the idea that this group’s history, including the ongoing fight for equality and increased representation, is at the heart of American history.
As we honor the community, we also embrace intersectionality and each person’s individual background, identity, and story.
“Good Morning America” and ABC News asked influential people who identify as Hispanic, Latinx, Latino, and Latina to nominate fellow members of the community to create the “GMA” Inspiration List. Many of the people nominated for the list are rising stars whose influence and work could have the power to reshape our world. Others are figures who have made a significant impact but may not have received recognition they deserve.
This is the first “GMA” Inspiration List: Who’s Making Hispanic Latinx History Right Now.
Joan Smalls nominates Pedro Julio Serrano and Ivana Fred Millán
I am in awe of these two amazing people. Pedro Julio Serrano and Ivana Fred Millán put themselves on the line every day in Puerto Rico to stand up and fight for what they believe in, and I couldn’t be more honored to share their stories with others. Ivana and Pedro Julio have been human rights activists for over 20 years in the struggle for LGBTQ+ liberation, as well as HIV prevention and the rights of people living with HIV. They are both spokespeople for Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an LGBTQ+ social justice organization that has been at the forefront of the human rights struggle in Puerto Rico, including two cases that achieved marriage and gender identity rights for LGBTQ+ people.
Ivana and Pedro Julio are true leaders that are actually looking to help those around them. Their efforts have aided in the approval of three pro-LGBTQ+ laws in Puerto Rico and they have worked with their government on trans initiatives around driver’s licenses, electoral cards, and health care. They have even given training to media outlets on how to improve the representation of LGBTQ+ people, as well as to the Police Academy of Puerto Rico to make sure that trans people are treated correctly and justly under the law, as well as how to correctly implement the hate crime laws and protocols. Ivana and Pedro Julio have raised their voices to demand justice and have supported many families of victims and survivors of hate crime violence. They continue to advocate for pro-LGBTQ+ laws and stand up for their people.
I work in an industry that allows me to interact and engage with all different kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds and it opens me up to worlds I may never have known otherwise, and I am so incredibly grateful for that. But Puerto Rico is my home, it is where my heart is rooted, and I want to see joy, happiness, and equality for all there and everywhere. Today’s world can be a dark, lonely and unforgiving place, but it’s people like Pedro Julio and Ivana that help shine light in the darkness. We need more people in this world who will stand up for the disenfranchised and their rights — human rights. We cannot and will not leave our people to fight alone.
Model Joan Smalls is known for becoming the first Latina model to represent Estée Lauder cosmetics in a worldwide campaign in 2011 and has broken barriers for those in the fashion world.