Louis E. Perego Monendo, aka Tio Louie, spoke at Tate Hall on Tuesday night, as part of MU’s Coming Out Week and Hispanic Heritage Month.
A gay U.S.-born Latino, Louie discussed his religious upbringing during the 1970s and the AIDS crisis in New York City.
As a documentary filmmaker, most of Louie’s work is media outreach and LGBT and Latino representation in the media, but he is also involved with LGBT sensitivity training and policy change advocacy, according to the LGBTQ Resource Center’s website.
Something that goes unnoticed in society today, Louie said, are the interconnections between diversity groups. Despite coming from different diversity groups, there is always a commonality.
For Louie, this commonality is pain.
“We need to realize 'What is the pain that binds us all together?,'" Louie said. "(We need to) find what we all share in common with regards to pain and discomfort. This strikes a chord and resonates within us. It brings people together a little bit more."
Louie firmly believes in being able to create one’s own identity.
“I’ve taken the best of all worlds and made this unique individual that I am today,” Louie said.
Among MU’s student population of approximately 35,000, acknowledging and supporting each other’s diversity is extremely important in the eyes of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization President Debrielle De La Haye.
Now a junior, De La Haye said she hopes to educate MU’s community through more diversity-centered events.
“These are events that allow us to break down stereotypes and prejudices that we may hold in our hearts, in an atmosphere that is respectful and conducive to learning” De La Haye said.
Tuesday night’s event was Louie’s second appearance on MU’s campus. His first invitation was in April of 2013 after the release of his film titled “Latina Confessions."
In addition to producing this documentary, Louie also founded the Skyline Community, a non-profit organization that has trained over 1,500 Latino and black youth in New York City, Newark, N.J., and New Brunswick, N.J., to produce 70 documentary shorts on social, public and mental issues within their community.
One of these documentary shorts was shown Tuesday night. “I Know Who I Am…Do You?” was written, directed and produced by teenagers of the Latino community. Each individual faced struggles and discrimination because of their sexual or ethnic identities. But they all had one thing in common: their desires to succeed.
Louie’s role was limited to “mentor” in the production of this documentary, but he said it was one of the biggest accomplishments of his career.
Triangle Coalition and HALO’s purpose in bringing Louie back to MU was to promote the idea of having and embracing multi-identities, HALO Treasurer Eva Lopez said. As a Mexican-American, she relates to the feeling of being a part of two different communities.
“The point that Louie got across is almost everyone belongs to more than one community or has more than one identity” Lopez said, “It’s important to respect, acknowledge and embrace your own multi-identities and others.'"