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Tanya Saracho, Mj Rodriguez discuss changing tide for queer Latinos in media

"Vida" creator Tanya Saracho and "Pose" star Mj Rodriguez addressed LGBTQ representation in media at the 14th annual Outfest Legacy Awards.
Image: Tanya Saracho speaks at the Outfest Legacy Awards Gala in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2019.
Tanya Saracho speaks at the Outfest Legacy Awards Gala in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2019.Araya Diaz / Getty Images

"Vida" creator Tanya Saracho isn't quite used to the level of inclusion that was present at the 14th annual Outfest Legacy Awards on Sunday night.

"I do have to say that I am new to these sort of spaces and this kind of inclusion, and I'm trying to get more comfortable," she said while accepting the Rising Star honor.

"Immigrant and brown members of the LGBTQIA+ community have often been left out of not only the celebrations, of the commissions, but of the narrative in the media, in the industry, in this country. Of me being up here, I think the tide is changing," Saracho continued, addressing the crowd, which included "Vida" stars Ser Anzoategui, Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera.

The Starz series has been praised for creating opportunity for Latinx and LGBTQIA voices, a point Anzoategui noted when presenting Saracho with the award.

"'Vida's' changed my life," Anzoategui said onstage. "Now I'm in this position as a series regular playing a butch lesbian. It still blows my mind cause where else is there a butch lesbian as a main character?...Masculine presenting is huge; it's still a stigma in our community. People [that] want to see queer or lesbian or any sort of queerness or non-binary, they a lot of times want to see it be fem or not as masculine."

Prada also praised the working environment on the "Vida" set, telling Variety, "If you guys could come on set with us and see what goes on behind the camera, it's one of the most inspiring things I've ever gotten to be around. Because we're constantly surrounded not only by women, but Latinx women, queer women, women of all different types that identify in so many different ways."

Though the event was honoring celebrities advocating for others, Outfest itself has opened the door for many of the LGBTQIA stars who gathered at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles for the annual event, presented by Cadillac, to celebrate and support the night's honorees, which also included "Queer Eye" producers Rob Eric and Michael Williams. Before the honorees took the stage, guests mixed and mingled at a pre-cocktail party with presenter Verdine White, the event's host Sheryl Lee Ralph and performer Ada Vox.

Onstage, Mj Rodriguez elaborated on Outfest's role in giving women like her a chance to be seen. "It is not often when [you see] young African American, Latina, trans women of color...they're shining a light on women like ourselves," Rodriguez said. "But also, I'm just thankful, thankful, thankful to Mr. Ryan Murphy for taking a shot [on me]."

Rodriguez wasn't the only attendee who credits Outfest with helping to launch their career. The fest also opened the door for "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" director Jim Fall.

"My first film 'Trick,' that I made in 1999, premiered at Sundance, but then it was a closing night movie at Outfest," Fall recalled. "And ever since 1999, Outfest has just been the core of Los Angeles filmmaking and gay filmmaking specifically. And this [Legacy Awards Gala] is an amazing time to meet all of our peers and to celebrate our heroes."

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