Honduras Human Rights LGBTQ

Honduras’s First LGBTQ Publication Tells The Stories “That Nobody Else Will Tell”

Reportar Sin Miedo (Reporting Without Fear), Honduras’ first “diverse” digital publication, was co-founded by journalists Dunia Orellana and Lourdes Ramirez in October 2020 to report on the untold stories of the country’s queer, Black, Indigenous, and disabled communities – highlighting both their resilience and their struggles.

Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries for LGBTQ-identifying people; between 2009-2020 the Honduran nonprofit Cattrachas recorded that at least 373 people were killed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity in the country of roughly 9 million people, with a 91% rate of impunity. Additionally, after a January 25, 2021 amendment to article 112 of the Honduran constitution, same-sex marriage (which was already banned) would require a ¾ majority vote in congress to legalize. 

The lack of justice for Honduras’s LGBTQ community speaks for itself – and in the absence of a concerted government response to systemic discrimination Reportar Sin Miedo, the country’s first LGBTQ-focused publication, is stepping up to create a safe space for marginalized people to tell their own stories, portraying themselves as active agents of change rather than passive victims of hate crimes.

On April 5 they, along with the grassroots organization Honduras Diversa, denounced the killing of trans woman Vanessa Zuniga who was found dead on March 28. Their joint statement celebrates her life as a human rights activist while declaring “We make our voices heard demanding that the Public Ministry investigate her killing.” 

Nestor Hernandez, a Honduran LGBT activist and founder of Honduras Diversa told Latina Republic that “to be an LGBT person also means being victim to violence at every structural and social level; you often see people attacked on the street, and hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are common.” He added, “We don’t know if today we’re alive and tomorrow we might be dead.” Hernandez is also Reportar Sin Miedo’s digital strategist.

Reportar Sin Miedo is geared towards a youth audience, and their primary goal is to make sure that marginalized people in Honduras know they aren’t alone – that there are people who care about them and want to hear their stories. Growing rapidly, the publication currently has approximately 10,000 monthly readers, the majority between the ages of 18 and 35. 

It’s also the first and only publication in Honduras to regularly use “inclusive language” (el lenguaje inclusivo), which means changing the end of a gendered noun to a gender neutral “x,” thus “not forcing any conception of gender onto the reader.” 

 

From left to right, Reportar Sin Miedo’s Lourdes Ramirez, co-founder and editor in chief; Maria Alejandra, editor and contributor, Telma Quiroz, investigative journalist; and Dunia Orellana, co-founder, director, and journalist. / Photo courtesy, Reportar Sin Miedo.

 

Nestor Hernandez is founder and director of the organization Honduras Diversa as well as a digital strategist for Reportar Sin Miedo. / Photo courtesy, Nestor Hernandez.

 

The Stories That Nobody Wants To Tell

“For me to report without fear means to undo my personal fears and to help undo the fears of the next generations,” Dunia Orellana told Latina Republic. She says, “it’s also been important for me to accept myself as a diverse woman – and to accept it publicly. It hasn’t been easy for me, because it’s something that people look at you strangely about. Also to accept that I’m a Black [and queer] woman.”

Orellana notices that the Honduran press doesn’t take LGBTQ issues seriously: “when you read about diversity, many people grab onto it like a joke, or to create clickbait. And I’m not going to  do that [with Reportar Sin Miedo].” She wants to “tell the stories that nobody else will tell, and for them to be well written, with human dignity, and the rigour and professionalism that characterizes us.”

Echoing Orellana, Nestor Hernandez describes Honduras’s traditional press as “sensationalist” – in most instances, he says, the LGBTQ community are only referred to when they’re being killed: “Reportar Sin Miedo tries to tell the story behind those headlines. Why does this person need justice? It’s like a form of storytelling, to be emotional with the reader, but without re-victimizing the victim.” He describes Reportar Sin Miedo as a “humanistic” publication.

The Isolation of LGBTQ People in Honduras

Maria Alejandra, one of Reportar Sin Miedo’s editors and a photojournalism student at John Brown University in Arkansas, told Latina Republic: “when I was growing up, I realized that there wasn’t very much representation of people like me in the media. And if there was, it was always with a negative focus. That definitely isolates people in diverse communities and makes them think that others like them don’t exist, that we are the exception and the minority.” 

Alejandra has noticed that people in the US place a greater emphasis on individual freedom of expression and the freedom of the press than in Honduras. She plans on returning to Honduras, bringing her own personal freedom of expression as a reporter with her. 

Hernandez says that the isolation of “staying in the closet” and constantly feeling alone leads many people to commit suicide – he knows of five LGBTQ youths that committed suicide in the past year alone, but there are countless more whose stories remain untold. The tough conditions also cause  many in the LGBTQ community to leave Honduras, hoping to seek asylum in the US. 

Hernandez has faced discrimination and death threats for being openly gay for many years – when his cousin was shot dead on a bus in 2019 he decided to travel to Spain, where he participated in a program for Human Rights Defenders run by the Basque Country’s government. He returned to Honduras in October 2020 because he says his life calling is to defend the rights of LGBTQ people and be “an agent of change.” 

To report without fear means to elevate the voices of marginalized people – “I don’t think that I’m the voice of minorities, I want to give voice to them – people already have their own voices, and what we need to do is amplify them,” says Alejandra, “right now we’re looking for collaborators, and we tell them ok, you have a story – why don’t you share it with us? And then we distribute it via our social media.” For example, Reportar Sin Miedo recently published the testimony of an openly gay microbiologist, and the story of eight LGBT candidates in Hondura’s March primary elections. 

 

 

Reportar Sin Miedo hopes to reach audiences that don’t have reliable access to news – especially news about minority communities. According to the latest World Bank statistics from 2017, only 31% of individuals in Honduras regularly use the internet.

Orellana told Latina Republic she hopes to reach these populations through alternative routes – “I have been considering making strategic alliances with community-oriented and national radios, where we could share information and content, so that we can bring our stories into other formats.”

She also hopes to translate Reportar Sin Miedo’s content into English and Garifuna, which has over 200,000 speakers in Central America. 

Reportar Sin Miedo has also formed partnerships with LGBT nonprofits that share their information with their audiences – like Honduras Diversa (Diverse Honduras), La Red Lesbica de Cattrachas (The Lesbian Cattrachas Network), Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia (Movement of Diversity and Resistence), and Casa Arcoiris (Rainbow House). 

 


Dashiell Allen | Latin American Correspondent

Dashiell is a graduate of Reed College where he studied Latin American and Peninsular Spanish literature. At Latina Republic, Dashiell elevates the voices of activists and organizers that work to promote human rights and immigrant rights throughout Mexico. His work contributes to the organization’s mission of breaking stereotypes and bringing attention to underreported stories throughout Latin America.