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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 It's an outdated concept that many now feel has no place in today's evolving society.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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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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