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Voices of Equality: Nila Marrone

Nila MarroneNILA's PASSION...
Nila Marrone is a Bolivian American and emeritus professor from the University of Connecticut. Since her retirement in 1997, she has been a full-time volunteer for PFLAG and other organizations that work for equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. Her passion is educating families and society at large to move them from homophobia to acceptance to the celebration of LGBT persons.

NILA's "CHILDREN..."
When Nila Marrone's niece and godchild, Maria (then 18), came out as a lesbian in 1983, Nila became deeply interested in learning about homosexuality to help her niece/godchild and family deal with the issue. As a researcher, she investigated homosexuality and concluded that her niece was a normal, healthy young woman that needed strong support from her family to deal with a homophobic society. In 1997, while in Granada, Spain, she met Frank, a young gay man who had been disowned by his family and was suffering rejection and loneliness. Nila and her husband Joe pretty much adopted Frank, and helped him come to the U.S. and complete his education. As her early retirement approached, it was her experience with Frank that convinced Nila that she must dedicate her time and energy to educate families like Frank's so that no young men or women would be cast away from their families because of their sexual orientation. Since then, Nila has acted as a temporary "mother" to many youngsters in the U.S., Latin America and Spain. She has provided them support, direct assistance, and helped them come out to their families and to recover the family's love and support when rejected by their parents and relatives.

NILA's DEDICATION and ACCOMPLISHMENTS...
Nila became a member of PFLAG NYC in April, 2002 and was president from December 2002 to June 2005. At PFLAG NYC, she was also Director NYC Latino PFLAG and its Safe Schools Program. Nila is currently co-coordinator of FOCAA PFLAG (FOC&A = Families of Color and Allies) in NYC, the first chapter dedicated to reaching out to families of color in the U.S. She is also joining the SAFE SCHOOLS Program of YES (Youth Enrichement Services) of the LGBT Community Center in NYC. Nila has also joined PFLAG Westchester where a Spanish group is being formed. Her dedication to the mission and vision of PFLAG has produced many accomplishments.

EXPANSION:

  • NYC Latino PFLAG was formed as a subgroup of PFLAG NYC, and PFLAG NYC has also strongly encouraged reaching out to all families of color by developing African/Caribbean PFLAG, Asian Pacific Islander PFLAG.

INFORMATION

  • As member and co-founder of Families of Color Network, she is helping PFLAG National to include in their website a comprehensive web page for resources in Spanish. Eventually, it will include resources for other ethnic groups as well.

EDUCATION

  • The Safe Schools Program and the Speakers Bureau grew from 4 volunteers to 22 volunteers — Nila has presented workshops to hundreds of school counselors and she has visited many schools as member of the Speakers Bureau schools throughout the NYC area, Senior Citizen Centers and other organizations.

ADVOCACY

  • She has worked for the passage of the anti-harassment bill, Dignity in All Schools Act (DASA NYC) in coorperation with Phyllis Steinberg, chair of the broad coalition of NYC grass-root organizations.

SERVICE TO OTHERS

  • Nila has also served on the Board of PFLAG Hartford during 1998-2001. Nila formed PFLAG en Español, as a subgroup of PFLAG Hartford. PFLAG en Español later became an independent CT Latino PFLAG, the first independent ethnic chapter of PFLAG. She was PFLAG Hartford/GLSEN/ True Colors coordinator of the Safe Schools Program and a volunteer advisor to the Gay/Straight Alliance at Manchester High School. During 1999 and 2000, Nila campaigned and lobbied to have the co-parent adoption bill in Connecticut become law. It became law in the year 2000.
  • Member and part of the Trainers Team of PFLAG National to train other PFLAG chapters to implement PFLAG's Safe School Program nationwide in 2000.
  • Founding member of Families Of Color Network and is current member of the Advisory Board.
  • Member of both GLSEN/GLSENCT and has worked closely with both.
  • Member and organizer of TRUE COLORS INC. (Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services of Connecticut) and the ever more successful True Colors Conference that takes place annually in Hartford, CT, and that attracts about 2000 participants most of whom are LGBT youth, their families, and professionals who work with them.
  • Since 2005,a MARRIAGE AMBASSADOR for Empire State Pride Agenda working to achieve marriage equality in New York State.
  • Since 2006, member of Freedom to Marry's Voices of Equality Project (Latino team), participating in the Radio Tour of Freedom to Marry week, Feb. 13-18, 2006).

AN ACCOMPLISHED AUTHOR AND ADVOCATE...

  • Co-author of the Report on the Survey Regarding Anti-Gay Harassment in Manchester High School, Connecticut, October, 2000. This report persuaded the Department of Education in CT to implement changes to make anti-harassment legislation more effective.
  • Author of "Advice to Latino Parents of LGBT Children", published in SIECUS, Vol 29,. No. 4, April/May 2001.
  • Author of "Discussion Guide for De Colores/ Guia de Discussión para De Colores", a comprehensive 67 page bilingual guide for the use of the video De Colores that deals with how love triumphs over homophobia in Latino families with LGBT children, 2002.
  • Translated into Spanish the 207-page manual of GLSEN CT, Tackling Gay Issues in Schools (Abordando la temática gay en la escuela). This includes a study of Spanish gay vocabulary in the U.S., Latin America and Spain, a compilation of names and mini-biographies of more than 100 outstanding Hispanic/Latino LGBT people, a list of close to 300 LGBT advocacy LGBT groups in the U.S., Latin America and Spain, and an extensive list of resources in Spanish: Books, booklets, videos, etc.
  • Translated into Spanish PFLAG's booklet: Our Daughters and Our Sons:Questions and Answers for Parents of Gays, Lesbians and Bisexual Children (Nuestras hijas y nuestros hijos).
  • Co-translator with Mauro Cabral of PFLAG'S booklet Our Trans Children (Nuestros/as hijos/as trans).
  • Co-translator with Mauro Cabral of Notes on the Treatment of Intersex(Notas sobre la intersexualidad), by Alice Dreger.
  • Co-translator with Mauro Cabral of What is Intersexuality?( Qué es intersexualidad?), by Cheryl Chase.
  • Co-translator with Mauro Cabral of Top Nine Myths About Intersex(Los diez mitos sobre la intersexualidad), by Alice Dreger.
  • Co-translator with Adam Tully of the PFLAG NYC Brochure Answers to Parents' Questions about Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Persons(Respuestas a las preguntas de los padres sobre la gente gay lesbiana y bisexual).
  • Co-translator with Adam Tully of the PFLAG NYC Brochure Answers to Questions About Religion and Homosexuality(Respuestas a preguntas sobre la religión y la homosexualidad).
  • Co-translator with Adam Tully of the PFLAG NYC Brochure Answers to Common Questions About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth(Respuestas a las preguntas más comunes acerca de la juventud gay, lesbiana y bisexual).
  • Co-translator with David Sarshalom of GLSEN's Ten Things Educators Can do(Diez Cosas que pueden hacer los educadores).
  • Helped create a PFLAG NYC brochure on transgender issues which is now available in English and Spanish.

SPEAKING UP, SPEAKING OUT, NEVER SPOKEN FOR... LOCALLY

  • Nila has led and conducted numerous workshops on LGBT issues for PFLAG Hartford, GLSEN CT, True Colors and PFLAG NYC (as part of the continuing Safe Schools Program) since 1999. GLOBALLY
  • She has also conducted numerous workshops on LGBT issues in Spanish in the U.S., as well as in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Uruguay) and in Spain (Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia).
  • Nila also spoke at a meeting of a committee of the Uruguayan Parliament to persuade legislators to pass the domestic partners bill in October of 2003.
  • She is currently helping organize the second International Summit of PFLAG groups from Latino America, Spain and Hispanic/Latino groups in the U.S. The Summit is being sponsored by IBM.
  • She was the coordinator of the Second International Convention of Spanish PFLAG groups from Latin-America, Spain and the U.S. that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 9-11, 2005
  • She presenting a workshop in the Fourth Convention of PFLAG groups in Spain to take place in Barcelona, Nov. 11-13, 2005.
  • She is one of the presenters at a workshop organized by PFLAG National in the World Conference on LGBT rights in Montreat, Canada, in July of 2006.
  • She is currently organizing the Third International Convention of Spanish PFLAG groups from Latin-America, Spain and the U.S. to take place in Montevideo, Uruguay, in September of 2007.

A CONSTANT VOICE FOR PFLAG

  • Nila has appeared extensively on Spanish and English TV in the U.S., Spain and Latin America to speak on varied LGBT issues such as the harm caused by homophobia, safe schools for LGBT youth, marriage equality, opposition to the amendment to the U. S. Constitution, etc. Here is some of her media participation:

IN THE MEDIA IN ENGLISH:

  • 2003, August, NYC: Appeared on Eye Witness News Upclose, Anchor Diana Williams on the Harvey Milk High School.
  • 2003, August, NYC: Interviewed by Alison Gendar of the NY Daily News on marriage equality.
  • 2003, September, NYC: Interviewed by Caroline Weaver from Voice of America TV (Washington, DC) on the Harvey Milk High School.
  • 2003, October, NYC: Interviewed by the crew of "In The Life" regarding the 30th Anniversary of PFLAG NYC.
  • 2004, January and March, NYC: Appeared on the Beverly Copeland Report, Access TV to discuss safe schools, marriage equality, and the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • 2004, NYC: Interviewed by news reporters from ABC, NBC, CBS, NY1, FOX and WNYC public radio at rallies and press conferences regarding marriage equality and the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

IN THE MEDIA, IN SPANISH: IN THE U. S.:

  • 2000: Nila and her son Frank were featured in a segment of the Award winning documentary De Colores. The documentary deals with how love triumphs over homophobia in the Latino communities. It is being used to educate the Latino communities throughout the U. S., Latin America and Spain.
  • 2000, March, Miami: Appeared on the Cristina Show to speak about how homophobia harms society.
  • 2002, September, NYC: Interviewed by Liliana Martnez, reporter of the newspaper Hoy in NYC on homosexuality and the family.
  • 2002, December, NYC: Interviewed by Homovisiones on the formation of NYC Latino PFLAG.
  • 2003, October, NYC: Appeared on the "Despierta America Show" of Univision to debate NYS Senator (and Rev.) Rubén Daz on his lawsuit against NYC and the Harvey Milk High School.
  • 2003, December: Appeared in "Aqu y Ahora" of Univision to discuss the Harvey Milk High School.
  • 2004, March, NYC: Interviewed by Ruth E. Hernandez Beltrán, reporter of EFE News Services of Spain on marriage equality.
  • 2004, March, NYC: Interviewed by Olga Imbaquingo, reporter of El Comercio, newspaper of Ecuador, on marriage equality.
  • 2004, April, NYC: Two-hour long interview by Ivan Torrijos, reporter of the Chicago Radio Station Radio Arte on various LGBT issues. Segments of the interview will be used during 2004 in Radio Arte's program Homofrecuencia.
  • 2004, NYC: Interviewed by news reporters from Univision, Telemundo, Hoy, El Diario and Spanish NYC radio stations at rallies and press conferences regarding marriage equality and the proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • 2004, December, Bronx, NYC: Interviewed by Glenis in "Diálogo con Glenis" on PFLAG and parents with LGBT children, Bronx Cable TV.

IN LATIN AMERICA AND SPAIN:

  • 1998-2004, Bolivia: Repeated interviews by Bolivian TV, radio and newspaper reporters, including the first ever hour-long TV discussion on homophobia in Bolivia in 1998 when Nila was interviewed by Carlos Mesa, then the most prestigious TV reporter and currently president of Bolivia.
  • 1998-2004, Spain: Several interviews with radio and newpaper reporters.
  • 2001, Mexico: Interviews by newspaper and TV reporters during the First International Convention of Latin American PFLAG groups in Mexico City.
  • 2003 Argentina: Interviews by newspaper and TV reporters during her visit to PFLAG and LGBT groups in Buenos Aires.
  • 2003, Uruguay: Interviews by newspaper and TV reporters during her visit to PFLAG and LGBT groups in Montevideo.

RECOGNITIONS...

  • Recipient of the 2000 OUT Emma Goldman Award for Outstanding Ally, presented by the Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Civil Rights.
  • Named one of the ten most influential Latina/Latino activists on LBGT rights of 2003 by Tentaciones Magazine, the only National Bilingual LGBT Latina publication in the U.S. Nomination is based on activism records, achievements, visibility and leadership.
  • Honored by the Stonewall Democratic Club at their annual cocktail party on June 3, 2004 in New York City.
  • GLSEN Certificate of Recognition for Nila's and Phyllis Steinberg's leadership in forming the coalition to support the anti-harassment bill "Dignity in All Schools Act (DASA NYC)."
  • Recipient of the Starr Award, PFLAG National Highest Award for remarkable work of local, national and international scope. PFLAG National Convention, Salt Lake City, October 23, 2004.
  • Recipient of the Morty Manford Award PFLAG Queens highest award that recognizes individuals whose work on behalf of the lesbian & gay community of Queens best exemplifies the pioneering political spirit of the late Morty Manford, & serve as a positive role model for the LGBT community. PFLAG Queens Annual Awards Celebration, November 6, 2005.

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