Queer Spotlight: Equality Texas

equality texas article

The Alphabet Mafia

Queer Spotlight: Ricardo Martinez, CEO

With Pride Month comes a new segment at The Alphabet Mafia that we’d love to introduce as the Queer Spotlight. In this, we dedicate to spend recurring time getting to know various Queer members of our community and the valuable work that they are bringing to the world & we promise to share their story to the best of our ability. 

Our first Spotlight Representative is Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas. A first generation immigrant, he grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He went on to be the first in his family to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree, and has been called to a career of advocacy for equity & inclusion. From there, he pursued nonprofit advocacy for seventeen years before finding his way to Equality Texas. 
Ricardo Martinez equality Texas
Ricardo Martinez is an activist and advocate of 22 years. Upon “connecting to audio” on our video call, I was immediately taken with how warm & inviting a soul he is, and was immediately gracious to have the opportunity to share space with him. As if reading my mind, he shared the same sentiment as he told me that there are “so many people in this world, how magical is it that we get to share space and time together?” I was hooked. 
When asked what brings him to this work - specifically LGBTQ activism - he took me back in time to when he was 11 or 12 years old. His parents called him and his siblings to the dining room table for their first - and only - “family meeting,” where they told their children that they will be accepted and loved if they’re gay. 
Martinez went on to explain that the impact of that moment wouldn’t really sink in until his 20’s, when he would realize that he, unlike the people around him, didn’t have a horrible experience coming out. He realized then that his parents had done something very special that day at the dining room table, and that he had hoped that every parent could do the same for their LGBTQ child or children. 
They held space for him and his siblings -- gently. 
And he realized, that’s what all LGBTQ people deserve. Grace.
The history of Equality Texas began in the 1980’s, when members of the Lesbian/Gay Democrats of Texas and the Texas Gay Task force joined together to create the Lesbian/Gay Rights Advocates (1982), which would later become the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, or LGRL, in 1986. In 2006, LGRL became Equality Texas, in order to reflect the growth and strength of the organization that had culminated within their successes.
Equality Texas is the state’s leading advocacy organization defending the rights of LGBTQ Texans against attack, with tens of thousands of members across the state. They lead rallies, events, and testimonials in Legislative sessions in response to bills and action by the state that is harmful to LGBTQ Texans. 
Ricardo Martinez speaks at Texas Capitol in Austin
Equality Texas - Vision & Mission
Equality Texas envisions a Texas where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans and their families have full equality in the hearts and minds of our fellow Texans and in all areas of the law. 
Equality Texas & The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.
The victories of Equality Texas have been extraordinary; most recently defeating the last 36 anti-LGBTQ Bills introduced in the last year. One of those 36 Bills was S.B. 29, a bill introduced that would ban trans youth access to sports and extracurriculars - only able to participate in those teams according to the student’s gender on
their birth certificate. 
Equality Texas is currently preparing for a potential Special Session in the coming weeks that the Governor of Texas had released earlier that week. The details of the Special Session would be “released at a later date,” so Martinez and the team of Equality Texas is organizing its resources for activism that may be needed surrounding the Special Session. 
Martinez went on to explain that showing up for a Special Session is an act of bravery of itself. It is a very vulnerable place to be - be it a rally, parade, or offering your own testimonial to the Legislature serving. This act of standing in your identity and putting yourself in potentially dangerous or triggering situations is one that Equality Texas takes seriously. In order to be able to show up for a Special Session, one needs to experience clear moments of healing to “lift and refill your cup and spirit,” possibly best described as “mindfulness-anchored gatherings.”
This is particularly important to Martinez, as he knows the importance of letting go of the trauma that we’re currently apart of; 
“They have to be healed and full. We want people to release energy from the past, because they’re going to another session that might be just as traumatic.” 
This work can be obviously traumatizing and triggering, but it’s worth remembering that just the act of activism is brave - & triggering - in and of itself. 
After so many victories defeating the same bills over and over though, it’s difficult to see these as victories as opposed to stalling. Martinez agrees, saying that this political discussion does nothing except one thing: send the message to bullies of transgender youth that their actions & behavior is acceptable. He goes on to explain, “if we spend so much time debating the humanity of trans people, they will continue to be othered.” 
The very act of arguing this political discussion, however many victories it holds for LGBTQ people, validates its importance of existence. 
The true victory is not the defeat of anti-LGBTQ bills that are already written. The true victory will come from you. 
You can stop hate speech in its tracks. 
You can have difficult conversations to help someone to stop and reflect.
You can stay informed of the actions of your state’s legislature.
You can stop transphobia. 
You can stop homophobia.
You can stop biphobia. 
We, the Alphabet Mafia, will be a part of this victory.

Equality Texas in partnership with organizations like the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), Texas Freedom Network, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, Lambda Legal and many local and regional orgs, defeated 36 anti-lgbtq bills


Requests & Submissions for The Alphabet Mafia’s Queer Spotlight can be submitted through email to Paige Diana, Staff Writer. Please include a brief bio of you, your activism & at least three available times for an interview. 

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