Top (L–R): Pedro Rico, Dani Romero, McEdgar Castro and Nata Choi. Bottom (L–R): Frances Ngo, Aimee Contreras, Nick Arteaga, Efren Coronado and Elizabeth Totterer.

Unidxs: Existing and Celebrating Without Resistance

Activism, Outreach and Education

Leadership at a complex intersection requires a conscientious community perspective that prioritizes observing similarities and differences between the members of a group. Unidxs (pronounced Oo-knee-dex) stands up to fill this need as a community council of Latinx/Xicanx individuals. “Unidxs informs Latino Behavioral Health Services (LBHS) on gaps, barriers and needs addressing the intersections between the LGBTQ+ and the Latinx community of Utah,” says Javier Alegre. The group does this by facilitating equitable access to behavioral health, community resources and education. LBHS is a nonprofit organization focused on providing behavioral health services that are linguistically and culturally responsive to the Latinx community of Utah.

To better understand the needs of the LGBTQ+ Latinx community, LBHS began their journey by taking the initiative to hold an intimate workgroup to gain awareness of the disconnect between this community and other LGBTQ+ organizations. To reconstruct a healthier connection, the workgroup chose to first engage in activities that bring this community together and regain their trust through opportunities specifically geared toward their community. The workgroup continued to meet and eventually evolved into a community council that took the name Unidxs, which is the non-gendered Spanish equivalent of “United.”

 

“Unidxs informs Latino Behavioral Health Services (LBHS) on gaps, barriers and needs addressing the intersections between the LGBTQ+ and the Latinx community of Utah.”

“Allyship is a verb, and we expect those we work with to uphold the same values as us in practicing equity and inclusion,” says Natanael Choi on the mission behind Unidxs.
Photo courtesy of Unidxs

Outside of Unidxs, there have been little efforts to address the intersectionality between the LGBTQ+ and Latinx community of Utah. Although there are many large organizations that serve the queer community, little to none focus on providing a space and a voice specifically for QTBIPOC people. Customs and language are essential parts of the Latinx identity, and it has been a barrier for those in this community to experience mainstream LGBTQ+ spaces without the culture. Efforts by Unidxs have springboarded the closing of this gap and have provided initiatives toward creating this space.

Representatives on the Unidxs Council come from different organizations all around Utah that can provide specific services and resources for the LGBTQ+ Latinx community, including Planned Parenthood, UCASA (Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault), Project Rainbow, Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Comunidades Unidas, Tracy Aviary, Utah Office for Victims of Crime, HEAL Utah and others. Unidxs makes a point to collaborate with organizations or individuals whose voices actively and directly benefit the queer and Latinx community. “Allyship is a verb, and we expect those we work with to uphold the same values as us in practicing equity and inclusion,” says Natanael Choi, the LBHS Youth Programs Coordinator. The group requires an understanding from their partners that the focus of Unidxs will always be toward the people that they serve—highlighting their experiences, their lives and learning how Unidxs can continue to provide them with a safe environment to be completely themselves.

Unidxs provides leadership of this complex intersection by fostering communication, events and resources that facilitate consciousness and awareness of the many identities within their community that include national origin, language, sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity and (dis)ability. They prioritize highlighting their similarities and observing their differences, knowing that Unidxs is the place where members have a safe space to learn from one another. “[Leadership] means existing without resistance, putting our guard down and simply being in a space of our peers that we do not have in everyday spaces,” says Nick Arteaga.

 

“[Leadership] means existing without resistance, putting our guard down and simply being in a space of our peers that we do not have in everyday spaces.”

One way to participate includes attending one of Unidxs’ monthly Cafe con Leche socials that are filled with cultural activities and members of the queer and Latinx community. They also hold an LGBTQ+ and Latinx support group that is held every other Monday at LBHS. For anyone interested in becoming part of the Unidxs community council, please contact Natanael Choi at [email protected] or fill out a volunteer form found on their Instagram bio. For any other information or events, check out the organization’s Instagram @Unidxs_slc.

More on LGBTQ+ organizations:
Project Rainbow: Bringing Unity to Utah
The Art of Safe Sex: Planned Parenthood