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AU Celebrates New ENLACE Digital Archive

Nearly 500 historical documents document DC’s first Latino/a gay and lesbian organization

1987 March on Washington

A hand-drawn flyer for a 1990s “Coming Out” party. Photos of the DC Pride Festivals in the 1990s. Detailed accounting books and handwritten notes from board meetings AIDS/HIV-related policy discussions. An invitation to a 1991 dance to benefit the DC Latino Civil Rights Task Force.

These primary source documents are part of a new digital archive of ENLACE, Washington’s first Latino/a gay and lesbian organization, organized in 1987 during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis and just months before that year’s March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, in which hundreds of thousands of people gathered in DC to demand more AIDS funding and an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

ENLACE at the March on Washington in 1993

In all, the digital collection includes nearly 500 documents, part of the Rainbow History Project at the DC History Center. Those materials have been turned into a digital archival collection that American University and Rainbow History Project made available for students, scholars, journalists, lawyers, and the public.

You are Invited 

On March 21, American University will celebrate the new digital archive. The AU community is welcome to join American University's Library and the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies in the Founder's Room in the School of International Service from 4:00-6:00 p.m. to listen to a panel discussion and enjoy refreshments. 

Emma Busch, Prof. Salvador Vidal-Ortiz and Letitia Gomez inside the Kiplinger Research Library in the DC History Center

Former ENLACE President Letitia Gomez, student archivist Emma Busch (AU CAS/BA '22), and Professor Salvador Vidal-Ortiz will discuss the archival project. Attendees can learn about ENLACE, the history of LGBTQ Latino/a people and activism in DC, and how this archive will benefit researchers across disciplines. 

After the panel discussion, the AU community is invited to stay for refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the archive’s creators, researchers, and other archives specialists.  

For More Information 

Founded in 1987, ENLACE, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Latino Lesbian and Gay Coalition, was the first organization in the DC area to center the experiences of lesbian and gay Latinas/os. The organization was multi-faceted, offering social events for the community to gather at while also working to combat anti-gay and lesbian violence and provide health and educational resources. Over the years the group was active, ENLACE collaborated with the DC mayor’s office, other community health organizations, and other gay and lesbian organizations.  

The organization was run by volunteers and had a membership base that helped run committees, attended events, and received bi-monthly newsletters. ENLACE dissolved in 1995 but helped blaze the trail for future queer Latinx organizations in Washington, DC.  

These materials in the ENLACE Digital Archive were collected and donated by Letitia Gomez, a former president of ENLACE. The collection was digitized by Emma Busch CAS/BA '22 and funded by the AU Summer Scholars Program, the Department of Sociology, the AU Honors Program, and the University Library.