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This film powerfully tackles homophobia from a Latino dad's point of view.

The willingness of any parent to adapt their way of thinking to make their child happy is a beautiful thing.

This film powerfully tackles homophobia from a Latino dad's point of view.

When Santiago Vasquez's son told him he was gay, Santiago looked at his wife, then burst into tears of joy.

Santiago is featured in "El Canto del Colibri," a powerful and raw new documentary about Latino dads coming to grips with their children's sexuality in a culture that often has zero tolerance for it.

"Colibri" means hummingbird in Spanish. "Much like the seldom-heard song of the hummingbird, the voices of Latino fathers are rarely heard in addressing LGBTQ issues," the opening lines of the documentary explain.


So "El Canto del Colibri" is "the song of the hummingbird."

Santiago Vasquez and his son, Santi. Still from "El Canto del Colibri," used with permission.

In the documentary, Santiago said it was a relief for him to hear that his son was gay.

He saw an excruciating look of pain on his son's face when he said he needed to tell them something. Based on that look, Santiago, a police officer, said he immediately thought his son, Santi, was maybe on drugs or perhaps he had witnessed a crime.

But when he heard Santi's words, he asked to give him a big hug and a kiss. "Prepare yourself to fight for your rights," he said.

"El Canto del Colibri" is a big moment for the Latino culture, which has traditionally had low tolerance for LGBTQ lifestyles.

In particular, Latino men tend to have a reputation for being extremely homophobic.

Machismo, a common cultural phenomenon in Latino history, preaches an overzealous masculine pride among Latino men where they feel the man should make the rules and has the final say in any household. It's an outdated concept that many now feel has no place in today's evolving society.

But this documentary hopes to show how things are changing. Now, Latino men are moving away from machismo, leaving their homophobic ideals behind, and embracing their children. By sharing real stories of Latino fathers and their kids talking openly about sexuality, this documentary shows that things are changing, finally, slowly.

Still of Joaquin Lopez sharing a laugh with his father, Salvador, from "El Canto del Colibri," used with permission.

The emotion that comes across most frequently in the documentary is fear.

There's fear that society won't accept their child for being gay. Fear that he or she will be treated unfairly. And also fear that they'll be physically injured by ignorant people who don't agree with their lifestyle.

Some fathers in the film admit to blaming themselves somehow for their son or daughter's sexual orientation. One admits not being very affectionate with his daughter when she was young, as if that could've been a factor. For others, their kids' sexual orientation is almost perceived as a reflection on themselves.

"Parents think that their boy's sexuality, more than their daughter's, is a reflection of their own sexuality," says Jorge Hernandez, one of the young men in the film. "They feel that their sons represent who they are as people."

Alberto Salamanca, another father featured in the film, says that he first had to accept in his mind the fact that his kid was gay and then realize that — before all else — that's his child. And if he doesn't accept him, then how will society accept him?

Still of Cris and his father, Alberto Salamanca, from "El Canto del Colibri," used with permission.

The other key emotion is love: For many of these dads, their children finally shook them out of that deep-rooted machismo mentality.

Santiago remembers flying into a rage after seeing Santi being affectionate with his boyfriend in front of the family, including his youngest son.

It took his daughter saying, "Daddy, you're wrong!" and his younger son saying, "I know my brother's gay, and I don't care," for him to realize he needed to change his way of thinking.

Santi says he is glad he did the documentary. "Not only were my dad and I able to express our thoughts and emotions, but it also showed that even when you love someone, e.g., your son or child, you can still have prejudices and fears sometimes translates into anger because that may be the only recognizable emotion in that moment."

While the kids in this documentary were brave, I was actually most impressed by the fathers.

Initially, they frustrated me. But in the end, I realized that they, too, were brave. They were willing to adapt and to choose to love their children despite the cultural norms around them.

Still of Ricardo Hernandez with his son, Jorge, from "El Canto del Colibri," used with permission.

"As a gay Latino man, my hope is that Latino families can cope with the menagerie of emotions that they may have when their child comes out," Santi said. "It's OK to have fear and doubt, but please know that there is beauty in diversity."

Javier Bandera and Zizi Bandera, a father and daughter, said filming the documentary actually helped them heal.

"The most beautiful moments of healing for me happened behind the scenes, from my mom decorating the whole house with rainbow papel picado and streamers when the film crew came over, to coming out to my oldest brother live during the filming," Zizi said.

"It gave us the privilege to be able to help other families understand their LGBT children," her father, Javier, said. "Especially after the tragedy in Florida. It changed my life and helped me see that we have to think differently and be more understanding towards our kids."

Still of Zizi and her father, Javier Bandera, from the documentary "El Canto del Colibri," used with permission.

Director Marco Castro-Bojorquez says he originally set out to dismantle the idea that Latino men are homophobic, transphobic, or machista by nature.

He wanted to show how unconditional love has the power to change hearts and minds in our families and in our community.

I'd say he got his wish.

This film sparks a difficult conversation in a culture that needs it very much. It represents an important step in not only lifting up, but understanding and supporting the LGBTQ movement within the Latino community.

And by opening up in "El Canto del Colibri," these fathers have also become champions of the LGBTQ movement and strong allies for their children.

Who would have thought that a group of Latino fathers would lead the charge for embracing the LGBTQ community in the Latino culture? Certainly not me, but I love it.

Watch the film's moving trailer below:

The documentary is now available on Vimeo.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

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Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

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