Vida: Standing Up for Love
April 4, 2014 | Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino, Latino Magazine
Do you believe in fate? A child of Chicano activists from East Los Angeles and a child of a working-class Hispanic conservative Catholic family from Albuquerque meet in 1992 at a lesbian party in Washington, D.C. and there was definitely a spark but, as fate would have it, we wouldn’t see each other again for 10 years.
In 2002, a friend and colleague re-connected us via work, and our journey together to change the world began in 2004. We were madly in love and we wanted to be in control of our destiny so we left the organizations we were working for in philanthropy and the nonprofit world to start our own venture—a boutique lobbying and public affairs company, D&P Creative Strategies, LLC. Our mission is consulting with a social conscience.
You can imagine the scandal we caused: the DC community is small and the D.C. Latino community even smaller. We caused quite a stir when we came out as a couple and announced that we were starting our own small business. We had no money, no contracts and no staff. People thought we were crazy! On top of that, we decided to be out in every aspect of our world including our business. When we told people, many were skeptical. Many thought we would never make it and that corporations wouldn’t want to work with us. We decided that if they didn’t want to do business with us because we are gay, then we certainly didn’t want to do business with them! We wanted to live our lives authentically and to serve as an example to the young Latino/a LGBT kids who were struggling with their identity.
We decided our business would be a conduit to give back to the two communities we come from and to build a bridge between them: the Latino and LGBT communities. Reflecting back on what we’ve accomplished in almost a decade as a couple in love and in business, we think we have kept our commitment of effecting change and giving back. In 2008, we launched the first-ever national political action committee for Latina candidates running for elected office to increase the number of Latinas serving in Congress and at every level of elected office. We’ve helped Fortune 100 companies and our non-profit clients tell their stories and we’ve successfully advised and represented our clients and their campaigns and initiatives on Capitol Hill.
Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino
Co-Founders & Principals of D&P Creative Strategies
We knew instinctively that through media, we could impact social change in a much broader way. So as our labor of love project, we executive-produced three documentaries, which aired on HBO, The Latino List,Volume I & II, and The Out List, an intimate story telling of struggle, accomplishment and perseverance. In 2011,we co-created the Familia es Familia campaign with Freedom to Marry and partnered with over two-dozen national Latino organizations on implementation. This was a “first of its kind” public education campaign focused on starting a conversation with the Latino community about LGBT issues in four key areas: family unity; anti-bullying; discrimination and marriage.
Our parents, and our grandparents before them, have taught us the importance of being proud of who we are and standing up for justice. And our families have stood up for us all along the way. They have celebrated our love and success and have been there to experience our journey every step of the way. Our families have supported us in every way, as we have spent the last decade working hard, building a business and a home, and contributing to our community. But like all families in our culture, they are waiting to see their children get married. When we told our families about our engagement they were extremely excited and wanted to know every detail about the wedding. They also let us know that their bags are packed and ready whenever we are.
After ten wonderful years together as a loving couple, in September of this year we got engaged. Then the reality hit. Marriage is the easiest and most celebrated life event in America. Isn’t it ironic, that over a decade we have been able to realize our dreams of starting a business, bringing much needed resources to our communities, building bridges and giving voice to our communities through media, which has been no easy feat. And yet, we can’t get married where we live, love, work and pay taxes because it’s illegal. Imagine how you might feel if you were told it was illegal to marry the person you love? Because we aren’t considered equal under the law in Virginia, we will have to cross state lines to validate our family and get married. Our hope is that our love and the example of our lives will change hearts and minds across the country and that justice will prevail.