The second installment of New York City’s FUERZAfest – NYC’s first Latinx LGBTQI festival – has just started and it couldn’t be timelier. Bringing together the worlds of fine arts, activism, theater and film, FUERZAfest is a collective initiative born around the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Its goals are to shine light on the erasure and violence suffered by Latinx LGBTQI people and to provide creatives and attendees with a space to safely gather and share their stories.
“The last year has seen an alarming rise in homophobia and xenophobia as a direct result of the hateful narrative in our national political debate,” said FUERZAfest director Mario Colón in a statement. “Being a Latinx LGBTQI person these days in the United States can be scary, especially following the Pulse tragedy in Orlando. That’s why now more than ever we need to revisit how our communities respond to and resist these threats.”
This year’s theme is “Breaking Down Walls,” and along with the festival’s opening panel of the same name, the goal is to help unite segmented struggles into a coordinated fight for equality. The panel kick off, which took place Wednesday, May 10, featured conversations with Director of Proyecto Somos Orlando and Pulse survivor Ricardo Negrón, trans Latina activist Cecilia Gentili, and Gabby Rivera, the queer writer behind the America Chavez title over at Marvel comics. Another prime example of the festival’s intersectional message came with the screening of Forbidden, a documentary film by Tiffany Rhynard that follows gay undocumented activist Moises Serrano as he grapples with life in rural America during the rise of xenophobic populist politics.
FUERZAfest will be showcasing works from all over Latin America as well as the diaspora May 10th – 21st at the Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center, in the heart of El Barrio, in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This year, the festival will also honor and remember the 49 victims of the Pulse shooting tragedy, with a memorial installation that highlights each victim’s story.
Though you can pop in and enjoy the shows at any time, we’ve selected a few festival highlights deserving of your attention: