First-Ever FUERZAfest Orlando Honors Pulse Victims, Celebrates Love, Unity, and Resiliency

The five-day arts festival featured a one-act theater competition, panel, and movie screenings dealing with issues impacting the Latino LGBTQ+ community

Hispanic Federation, the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization concluded its first-ever FUERZAfest Orlando on Sunday. The five-day festival, which ran from December 7-11, focused on the Latino LGBTQ+ community, using artistic expression as a means of addressing a myriad issues affecting Latino LGBTQ+ individuals. FUERZAfest Orlando was dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy.

The focus of FUERZAfest Orlando was a one-act theater competition, in which participating companies performed plays that centered around LGBTQ+ characters and dealt with themes of love, acceptance, identity, and much more. At the culmination of the festival, FUERZA Awards were presented in the categories of Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director. The winners of the first FUERZA Orlando Awards are as follows:

Best Play: Mal Tiempo y un poema sombrío, presented by Artefactus Cultural Project, Inc.
Best Actor: Leandro Peraza - Mal Tiempo y un poema sombrío
Best Actress: Yani Martín - El Ultimo Bolero
Best Director: Eddie Díaz Souza - Mal Tiempo y un poema sombrío

“This is an opportunity for everyone to unite in solidarity with the Latino LGBTQ+ community of Central Florida. FUERZAfest Orlando celebrates diversity and culture through the arts, and I hope it continues for years to come,” said Mario Colon, HF’s Assistant Vice President of Communications.

In addition to the one-act plays, FUERZAfest Orlando hosted movie screenings, panels and workshops. Each event created an opportunity for dialogue and a free exchange of ideas aimed at moving the community forward in the wake of tragedy. Just six months after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, FUERZAfest Orlando was an opportunity for healing and coalition-building for leaders and allies across sectors.

“The Hispanic Federation is committed to protecting the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community,” said HF’s President José Calderón. “Our main goal with FUERZAfest Orlando is to provide a safe space for reflection and discussion of social issues in order to educate and heighten sensitivity to the negative impact that homophobia and anti-gay bias.”

All proceeds from FUERZAfest Orlando’s ticket sales will go to benefit Proyecto Somos Orlando, a one-stop wraparound service center providing long-term bilingual and bicultural support to individuals affected by the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Services include mental health and legal assistance, case management, crisis intervention, and individual and group counseling, among other supportive services. Proyecto also provides education on critical LGBTQ+ issues such as gender identity, sexual orientation and anti-homophobia. To make a donation to Proyecto Somos Orlando, visit