By Brandon Barrett and Jazmyn Davis
HIV, colonization and oppression are just a few of the many difficulties David Caleb Acevedo faces in Puerto Rico and the United States.
The author spoke April 13 on TR Campus about HIV and his activist experiences spreading awareness around the two countries. Besides being an activist, Acevedo is part of the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.
Acevedo covered a number of controversial topics and issues for Hispanics and people in the LGBTQ community.
“We cannot vote for your president,” he said. “Basically, we are political and economic slaves of the union because every single thing that we produce on the islands has to be approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration].”
Apart from being “political and economic slaves of the union,” Acevedo described being colonized.
“It’s very difficult to break away from a colonist state of mind,” he said. “We feel constantly oppressed.
“We have so many identities that have been imposed on us to the point where many of us don’t even know where to start. It’s a miracle that we have at least seven writers who are doing the job that needs to be done, but where are the rest? Taken by HIV, taken by AIDS and also experimented on. Puerto Ricans, and Puerto Rican women in particular, went through tests and experiments for cancer and other diseases all orchestrated by the U.S.”
Acevedo offered advice to the LGBTQ community.
“Learn to take advantage of the privileges you have,” he said. “You have to see people through their culture and not through your own. But most importantly, stick together.”
During an afternoon presentation, the Puerto Rican native, who describes himself as pansexual, explained how culture and political climate has influenced racism and intersexuality in Puerto Rico.
“This is who we are: intersexuality in the island and territory of Puerto Rico and the violence and slavery of illegal debts,” he said.
Even though Puerto Rican people are made up of mixed races, racism still exists, Acevedo said. Racial treatment is determined by skin pigmentation with lighter-skinned people generally receiving better treatment and better representation in media and politics.
Racism also occurs as a result of intersexuality, the overlapping and lack of privilege, Acevedo said.
“Though I am light-skinned and have favoritism in that area, I am HIV-positive, so anyone who does not has a privilege higher than mine in that specific area,” he said.
Acevedo said the word intersexuality is not commonly used in conversation on the island.
“Though it is not mentioned often due to the accessibility of social media, we are able to keep up with what goes on in the mainland, which catapults us into being able to start small discussions,” he said.