Statement from Executive Director and Board of Directors regarding incident at Chicago LGBTQ+ bar, Touché
As LGBTQ Latine/xs, we endure multiple systems of oppression all the time. We experience homophobia & transphobia from our families and in our neighborhoods, and we encounter racism and xenophobia from LGBTQ establishments and the broader community. This is exactly why ALMA was founded: to create safe spaces for LGBTQ Latine/xs and to advocate for our community. For over 30 years, we’ve witnessed many moments where our communities have been made to feel unwelcomed, intentionally targeted, and disregarded, even in spaces that that are supposed to be for us. We continue to witness this.
On Tuesday, Touche – a local LGBTQ and leather-friendly bar in the Rogers Park neighborhood, hosted an event to celebrate its 45th anniversary. As part of this celebration, they invited a puppeteer entertainer – whose name is not worth elevating – who spewed overtly racist, misogynistic, and transphobic jokes in his act. These were not unscripted jokes. This was a deliberate performance, including an act that relied on racist tropes about Black women. We want to be extremely clear that the performance was bigoted, it was racist, and it was intentionally anti-Black.
We join our community in strongly condemning this performance and holding Touche’s leadership accountable. Late Wednesday evening Touche released a statement apologizing for what transpired and that they are seeking ways to address the harm. Touche is organizing a community gathering at the Leather Archies & Museum on November 9th at 7 pm. We encourage our members to attend and express their concerns.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. This year, we have seen an increase in harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students. We’ve heard bigoted rhetoric from elected officials and candidates targeting trans people. Just a few weeks ago, leaked recordings contained anti-Black and anti-indigenous comments coming from Latino politicians from Los Angeles.
The time “to do better” was years ago, even before the 2020 racial uprisings. What we are seeing now is a culmination of us not doing better when we had to. LGBTQ people of color and women of color have been at the forefront of demanding change and holding these spaces accountable, only to have our concerns disparaged or belittled.
While ALMA will continue to push for policies that benefit our community and we’ll fight to protect the gains we’ve made, we must remember that transformational work needs to also happen on the ground – in our neighborhoods and our social settings. Yes, it is time for LGBTQ establishments and for Latinx leaders to do better. Yes, it is time for us – as a community – to do better. We must.
Manuel Hernández, Executive Director, and Board of Directors
Association of Latinos/as/xs Motivating Action