The HEROES and HEROINES series was created in 2019 with the purpose of providing visibility, educating, and creating awareness about the contributions of members of the LGBTTQ + community in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Diaspora.
We recognize the importance of disseminating and documenting the history of our community, by highlighting our HEROES and HEROINES contributions.
Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera
She is a 30+ year veteran of the LGBTQ and union movements. She has extensive experience organizing and educating at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, racial/ethnic identity, and culture related to communities of color in the United States. Lisbeth has worked with people of faith from all denominations to ensure that we can be who we are, love who we love, and practice our faith without being judged. Lesbian woman, Puerto Rican heroine.
Journalist, theater director, writer and self-described crazy person, from Guayama, Puerto Rico. Founder of the boutique bookstore, La Esquina. In 2010 he published the book of stories Mundo Cruel, whose stories focus on gay life in Santurce. Its English translation won the Lambda Literary Award in 2014, being the first work of fiction to win the award. Gay man, Boricua hero
Humanist, community activist, political strategist, fighter for full equality for people living with HIV. He began his activism in New York in 1987 with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. He is currently part of the Panel of Technical Experts on HIV in San Juan and is Co-Chair of the Host Committee of the US National Conference on HIV/AIDS 2022 (USCHA) in PR. Together with Moisés Agosto, he published the first book of poetry about HIV in PR, called "Poemas de Lógica Inmune" Gay man, Puerto Rican hero
Moisés Agosto Rosario
He has dedicated his life to being an advocate and educator for people living with HIV. He has played a crucial role in ensuring that communities of color and Latinx have equal access to lifesaving care, treatment and information and has won numerous awards for his work with the HIV community. He is currently the Director of Treatment for NMAC. In addition to his vocation for community work, he also shares his passion for poetry, being a Member of the Generation of Poets of the Eighties in Puerto Rico. Gay man, Puerto Rican hero.
Pro-LGBTQ, animal rights and human rights actress/author/activist with more than 45 years of experience in the arts. She has worked on countless TV shows, movies and has been awarded several awards. Among them the "Honorary Proclamation by the City Of NY for outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ Community" and the "HOLA(Hispanic Organization For Latino Actors)Best Solo Performance for TransMission 2017" award. Trans woman, Puerto Rican heroine
Johanne Vélez García
Feminist, lawyer and defender of equality and human rights. Along with his wife, Faviola Meléndez Rodríguez, and 4 other couples were part of the group that claimed in the Federal Court of PR the recognition of equal marriage in 2015. Johanne is the first elected official, openly lesbian in the executive committee of the Democratic Party of PR, and in aspiring to the PR Legislature for the PNP. In 2019, he had the honor of chairing the first Advisory Council of the Governor of PR on LGBTT+ Affairs on our island. Lesbian woman, Puerto Rican heroine
Justin Jesus "Kery John" Santiago
Born in Barranquitas, PR. University degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Education. Investigator for the prevention and detection of fraud and Poet. In 1970, at the age of 15, she claimed her gender identity before the school authorities. Between 1970 and 1973, he survived conversion therapy. Since 1989, he has embraced the fight for the rights of the LGBTTIQ+ community and was the first trans man in PR to change the gender box on his birth certificate.
Reverend Pablo Navarro Hernandez (1942-2022)
He was one of the founding pastors of the Cristo Healer Community Metropolitan Church. Activist of our LGBTTIQ+ communities, pastor and university professor. He was also a father, husband and friend. Pioneer in achieving open door spaces in faith for LGBTTIQ+ people in Puerto Rico. Fighter for social justice on any battle front.
Luis Felipe Díaz (Lizza Fernanda)
Born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, she is a writer and retired Professor of Hispanic Studies (UPR-RP). She participated in the City University of New York Exchange Program in 1998, where she also taught graduate courses. She has presented transvestism shows in Chicago, New York, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Gay men, Puerto Rican heroes.
Yolanda Pizarro is a national and international award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and Afro-lesbian feminist activist. She is the Director and Founder of the Cátedra de Mujeres Negras Ancestrales and the Cátedra de Saberes Afroqueer. Her novel Caparazones (2010) has been cataloged as the first novel about lesbian love published in Puerto Rico in 2010. Lesbian, Puerto Rican heroine
José Fernando Colón (1952-2013) and Anselmo Fonseca
Advocates for the rights, health, and well-being of people living with HIV. Together they created the organization Pacientes VIH/Sida Pro Política Sana. Awarded as activists of the year in 2005. With their fighting spirit, patience and commitment, they defended the quality of services for HIV/AIDS patients served by the AIDS program of the municipality of San Juan. Gay men, Puerto Rican heroes.
Carmen Milagros Vélez Vega and Angeles Judith Acosta
Fierce defenders of the right of LGBTTIQ+ people to form a family. They succeeded for the first time in having their daughter's adoption recognized by the court to guarantee that both could have all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges. Their persistence earned them the final triumph of achieving what was already a fact; the legal adoption of their daughter. Lesbians, Puerto Rican Heroines
Dianne Michelle Trinidad Ramos
Trans woman who has dealt with discrimination and stigma from society. She has participated in different conferences related to HIV and the Latinx community. She currently coordinates activities related to the empowerment of the trans and other vulnerable communities. She is co-founder of LatinX+ at national level, the Movement in Response to HIV and the Zero HIV PR Coalition at local level. Trans woman, Puerto Rican heroine.
Osvaldo Burgos Pérez
Lawyer and writer, devotes much of his practice to the defense of children with special needs and other litigation related to discrimination and human rights violations. Has written several articles on Human Rights, and is also the author of the law review article "Manifestaciones de Homofobia en decisiones del Tribunal Supremo de Puerto Rico" published in the IAU School of Law Magazine.
Dra. Rosalina Ramos
Affectionately known as "Talin", she has been a healer and fighter throughout her adult life. During the 80s and 90s in PR, Talín was one of the leaders of the LGBT revolution. Her heroism and vigilance in the fight against injustice gave her the title of "Godmother of the Puerto Rican gay community" being the founder of the gay parade in Boquerón. lesbian woman, Puerto Rican heroine.
She is a beloved healer, writer, historian, activist, and creator. She is the author of Remedios: Histories of Earth and Iron of the Histories of Puerto Ricans, Histories of Medicine, among others.
Carmen Vázquez (1949-2021)
She was a visionary and sexual freedom fighter. Carmen's work focused on sexual freedom within a framework of racial, economic and human rights justice.
Rudy Martínez, also known as Mami Rudy or the Isabel Pantoja of Puerto Rico, has excelled in the art of transformism for just over 40 years. Her extravagant and elegant wardrobes, designed by herself, have made her look flawless on multiple occasions. She's synonym of solidarity. Her enthusiasm for helping the trans community and LGBTTQ + youth has been key to the success of new generations.
Amárilis Pagán Jiménez
Lawyer, writer, painter, lecturer and human rights advocated. Co-founder of projects that seek equity and equality. She has been part of groups that have carried out research on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Law, economic development proposals with a gender perspective and actions to advance legislation. Also, public policies in favor of equality for women, LGBT communities and people who live in conditions of poverty.
Ángel Luis Hernández
Altruistic, Sensitive, Leader, Sincere, Tenacious and Supportive. AARP volunteer and coordinator of the First Congress “Retos de los Adultas/os Mayores de 50 años LGBTT en Puerto Rico”. Facilitator in the “Rediseñando Mi Vida” initiative, which helps to discover individual potential. He fought and overcame AIDS and has become a health promoter and advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS.
Ada Conde e Ivonne Álvarez
In 2014 they filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, for their marriage to be recognized in PR. A year later, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the discriminatory practice of prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional. In 2015, with the support of the Human Rights Foundation and the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the first wedding of 65 same-sex couples was celebrated, achieving equal rights.
Cristina Hayworth (1944-2021)
Pioneer of Trans and LGBTQ+ activism in Puerto Rico, Stonewall veteran, fighter for trans rights, and outstanding journalist. In 1969, she participated in the Stonewall riots, the rebellion that started the modern LGBT+ rights movement in the United States. Hayworth also founded, in 1991, the first Gay pride parade in PR, Heritage of Pride, which preceded the Rainbow Pride Coalition.
Herminio (Nino) Adorno Ortega - (1962-2020)
Writer, veteran, activist and tireless fighter. Herminio with a group of brave people, founded the Rainbow Pride Coalition in 1991, which from 1992 organized the Pride Parade in PR. International LGBTTQ+ mentor, cultivated allies around the world. Nino fought against HIV, against cancer, against 2 tumors, against stigma, prejudice and discrimination. Gay man and Boricua hero.
Rev. Nixie Ramos
Adoptive daughter of San Juan, originally from Ponce. Activist, Psychologist with a master's degree in religion, defender of human rights, the LGBTT community and the rights of women in an oppressive and patriarchal society. 20 years ago, she founded Iglesia Cristo Para Todos, an inclusive, interdenominational church. Nixie has a liberal vision and works to achieve an inclusive and equitable society.
At age 52 she was mesmerized with the CESAM biology students of the UPR RP and their community outreach program to educate about leatherback nesting's in Ocean Park. This motivated her to found Grupo Tortuguero "7Quillas", the San Juan Sea Turtle Conservancy Group, for endangered leatherback protection, in 2014. Her love and commitment to educate community and students in favor of endangered sea turtle conservation and habitat protection, has been successful through awareness, community stewardship and volunteering. Hilda has been recognized in various forums for her environmental work, such as “Mujeres que Inspiran” from the Senate of Puerto Rico and with the international award “Activist Conservationist for a Green Planet”.
Actor, dancer, comedian and activist. Part of the original cast of "La Verdadera Historia de Pedro Navaja." Genius creator of characters that show and make visible the local idiosyncrasy and culture with mischief. Some like "Epifanio", "Guille", and "Ruperta La Camaina" are already part of our popular culture.
Olga Orraca Paredes
Fearless fighter, feminist, activist, and organizational consultant. She has dedicated her life to community work, defense of human rights, social justice and the LGBTTQ+ community. She co-founded the “Creative Lesbian Workshop” (TLC). Active militant in "LLEGÓ”, the “Basta” project, 32 women for Oscar and “Nuestra Salud”. For years she coordinated the Rainbow Pride Coalition, and the San Juan LGBTTQ+ Parade.
José "Joe" Toro Alonso (1952-2015)
Former president of the Inter-American Psychological Society. Respected professional, prolific researcher and a persevering fighter for equality. Receiver of the "Distinguished Contribution to Ethnic Minority Issues award", Psychologist of the Year, "Interamerican Psychological Award", and "Distinguished Professional Career Award" by the National Latino/a of Psychological Association, among others.
Egidio Colon Archilla
Human resources professional, activist, educator, writer and journalist. After more than 25 years at the helm of the Human Resources Office of El San Juan, he began a process of re-invention that took him to “El Post Antillano”. From there he analyzes, documents and contributes to raising the dignity, advocating for the equity of the LGBTTQ+ community and all the marginalized communities in Puerto Rico.
Soraya Santiago (1947-2020)
46 years ago, a young woman had the courage, discipline and strength to transform herself. That woman was and is Soraya Santiago. A fearless fighter for the rights of the LGBT+ community and other socially and economically marginalized groups. Soraya has dedicated her life to work, constant study and responsible activism. During her life, she was an entrepreneur with her own beauty salon, married, and participated in film productions such as “Mala Mala”. Today she remains active studying, advocating for the rights of LGBT+ communities and giving talks on local and international stages.
Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002)
Born on July 2, 1951 in New York from Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent. Activist and main figure of Stonewall, transgender pioneer, courageous fighter for LGBT+ rights since the age of 18. Regardless of the obstacles and battles in which she was the protagonist, Silvia always persevered, leaving a legacy that will last forever. Founder of the organization “Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries” (STAR) considered by many to be an innovative organization in the queer liberation movement and a model for other organizations. Sylvia passed away in New York at the age of 50 on February 19, 2002, due to cancer.
Artist, designer, entrepreneur of ethnic and Afro-Caribbean fashion. Fernando was born in New York where he learned about fashion, social movements and the LGBT community. In Puerto Rico he develops as an ethnic and Caribbean fashion entrepreneur, is a fighter for human rights and a proud gay man.
Blanca Rosa Rovira Burset
Blanqui is an educator, musician, activist, lesbian, protector of animal rights, older adults and the LGBT+ community. Founder of Vida Plena, which promotes health for the elderly community in Puerto Rico.
Ana Irma Rivera Lassén
Afro-Puerto Rican lawyer, first black woman to lead the Puerto Rico Bar Association from 2012 to 2014. Professor, feminist and human rights activist. Currently, Ana Irma has launched her candidacy as a senator by accumulation for the Victoria Ciudadana party, being the first openly lesbian black woman to run for the Senate.
Pedro Peters Maldonado
First openly gay elected official. Municipal legislator PPD for the municipality of San Juan.
Antonio Pantojas (1948-2017)
On November 25,1948 Santurce saw the birth of this actor, dancer, comedian, dance teacher, director, and theater producer. A precursor of drag-theater, he made his mark debuting in the theater professionally in 1968 where he excelled and left a great legacy. Pantojas kept working throughout his career between Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and New York. The last being where he settled and worked as a theater teacher. His personality and humanity were always in harmony with the humor and art that characterized him. Antonio passed away on October 2, 2017 in New York, at the age of 68.