LGBTQ candidates to watch
Last February, we had our final module of the Training of LGBTQ Political Leadership in Honduras. The main subject of this training was all the techniques and savoir-faire that you need while running for office. Among our LGBTQ leaders, we had two special guests: Aldo Dávila and René Félix, both running for a seat in the Guatemalan Congress. Both men, who identify as gay, shared with us their story and how they become candidates for different parties.
Aldo, age 41, has a long career as a Human Rights Defender. His experience ranges from working with nonprofits, as an electoral observer and even an elementary school teacher for children with learning difficulties. He has always been passionate about the rights of people living with HIV and fighting for trans rights. At just 17 years old, he began his activism career and would distribute condoms to sex workers in the street. He fondly remembers the day that his mother came with him to make sure that he was really distributing condoms in the street and not getting into trouble. She met the people that Aldo used to see every day and was so amazed by their stories that she became an activist for trans rights herself – she even was on the committee for the first Pride held ever in Guatemala, back in 2000!
A lot has happened in Aldo’s life and career since those days. He is now the Executive Director of “Gente Positiva” and is a very well-known activist in Guatemala. He says his strength resides in the fact that he fights for LGBTQ rights. Aldo also fights for education, for health, against corruption, he is involved in all different kinds of activism. For these reasons, he was approached several times by four different parties asking him to become a candidate. He finally accepted the offer when the Winaq party, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, reached out to him. When asked about his candidacy, he had this to say: “I feel excited, happy, scared, but after this training, I mostly feel anxious to go back to Guatemala and start working on my campaign!”
We also spoke with René Felix. René is a young journalism student and the son of a Congressman in Guatemala. After coming out to his parents at age 15, René says he lived some of the hardest years of his life. After many ups and downs, his family finally realized that they must accept him without restrictions or conditions. He understood then that the acceptance and love from his family was a privilege that not everyone has in their lives, and he became more involved in ways to help others in the LGBTQ community. Though only 24, he has already made a difference. He joined a party called Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) and faced discrimination within the party. Little by little he started opening people’s minds. He helped to create the first commission of LGBTQ issues within the party, in coalition with the Women’s Commission.
René was inspired by his father to become a candidate. When he heard his father saying “My main reason to become a Congressman, is to defend all fights for equality” he felt both proud and compelled to participate in a more active way. He says that if elected, he will focus on advance a law regarding youth, ensuring access to education and sexual education at all levels, expanding the capacity of Guatemala’s public university and helping to include young professionals in the workforce of the country.
Both candidates agreed that without the support of their families and their partners, they wouldn’t be where they are today.