DC’s first Latino-centered LGBTQ rights group’s document collection to be digitally archived

D.C.’s first Latino-centered LGBTQ rights group is now a part of history, thanks to a trove of documents preserved over the years.

The LGBTQ rights group ENLACE began fighting for the rights of Hispanics in 1987. Letitia “Leti” Gomez moved to D.C. from Texas, where she was active in the gay rights movement. She decided to get involved during a trip to the District for the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights and eventually became ENLACE’s president.

Gomez soon began collecting everything from newsletters and meeting minutes to all sorts of documents years before members decided to part.

“It was important to me to hold on to those documents because I thought, at some point, I’m going to give them to somewhere,” she said.

More than 500 of her items are now a part of the Rainbow History Project, a digital archival collection made possible with the help of American University.

Vincent Slatt, director of archiving at the Rainbow History Project, said the group of historians tirelessly collect, preserve and promote the stories passed down through community elders and activists, creating accounts of the community’s roots.

“We don’t always think of how important something like this could be,” he said.

ENLACE’s records now join the dozens of other historical documents being held at the DC History Center in Northwest.

“All of our collections are stored there and made accessible to researchers,” said Slatt. “Some materials going back to the ’50s with the early gay rights movement, the history of Latinos, the history of gay people — that’s the history of Washington, D.C., and it belongs to everybody.”

Now, as a board member and co-chair of the programming committee for the American LGBTQ+ Museum based in New York, Gomez said contributing to D.C.’s history is a reminder of the impact ENLACE has had over the decades and the role activists played in making history.

“No one was thinking ‘We’re going to do this to create leaders,’ but we did, and that’s important,” she said.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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