Connecticut Latinos Achieving Rights and Opportunities (CLARO), the parent organization of Hartford Pride and Out In CT, celebrates LGBTQ+ pride every day by educating and promoting equality for the LGBTQ+ community. According to the CLARO website, the LGBTQ+ community in Connecticut is 111,000 people strong.

MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with CLARO Marketing Director Jalmar DeDios about how CLARO Inc was formed and how the organization supports all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

NAN PRICE: Tell us a little bit about how CLARO began and how it’s evolved.

JALMAR DEDIOS: CLARO was the Latino arm of a movement led by Love Makes a Family Executive Director Anne Stanback and University of Connecticut School of Social Work Professor Dr. Julio Morales, which organized Latinas and Latinos for Marriage Equality. The group disbanded in 2004 and transitioned into CLARO.

Since then, CLARO volunteers and members have been involved in policy, education, and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. CLARO also hosts fundraisers and social functions and participates in Gay Pride events, including our annual Rainbow Ball, which began in 2009.

In 2014/2015 we did a community assessment and discovered that people in the LGBTQ+-friendly community really wanted to come together. That’s when CLARO started Hartford Pride, which shares LGBTQ+-related news and events, and Out in CT, which is like a Chamber for LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+-friendly businesses in Connecticut.

NAN: How are the organizations celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride month?

JALMAR: Every year, we host events bringing together the community. Last June, we worked with the City of Hartford to host Pride Under the Stars at Burr Mall, which commemorated 50 years since the Stonewall riots. And, every year we host a rainbow flag raising at city hall.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, this year is obviously different. We’re hosting some virtual events and we put together a video compilation celebrating Hartford Pride and celebrating the fact that we’ve come a long way since our inception and we’ve accomplished many things.

NAN: How can people become involved with CLARO? Is there a membership?

JALMAR: CLARO is open to everybody and we don’t charge membership dues. I want to clarify that we got started as a Latino organization, but we’re transitioning into a more diverse organization that is for the entire LGBTQ+ community. We welcome all types of people and we actively try to recruit members for our community and our Board from every race, gender, and orientation.

We’re always looking for allies, too. So, you don’t have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. to be a CLARO member. We encourage people who are not LGBTQ+ but who are allies to join because we think that’s going to expand our reach and our ability to get more people involved and aware of our mission, which has always been our goal.

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