Ric Mendoza-Gleason (2007)


Ric Mendoza arrived in Washington in 1965.
photo © Patsy Lynch

"We felt a need to bring violence against gays and lesbians to the forefront.  We didn't get a lot of support, though the police did away with entrapment, but there was still hostility. Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence provided victims assistance, a place to report.  We tried to get the police to understand us and our issues."

"ENLACE [the first Latino gay organization] organized events for Latino/a gays and lesbians, dances and Latino contingents in parades.  It was very hard at that point for Latinos to come out. We raised money for AIDS and for other gay groups. We tried to get involved in everything, in youth outreach and with senior gay Latinos and Latinas, education, everything involved with the Latino community."

Gay activist and Korean War veteran Ric Mendoza-Gleason, known as Ric Mendoza, has been a leader in the development of Latino/a gay community organizations, improved relations between the community and the police, and health and cultural services for the gay community.

As an early volunteer with the gay switchboard phone service at 1724 20th St. NW, Mendoza gained a comprehensive knowledge of the issues and organizations of the day and served as one of the 'clearinghouses' for community information.

Aware of the fraught relationship between the gay community and the Metropolitan Police, he joined the 1973 sit-in at the Police Chief's office in protest of police entrapment and the Chief's refusal to meet with gay leaders.  Mendoza became a founding member of Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence (GLOV) out of concern for a pattern of police negligence in protecting members of the community.  He continues his contribution to GLBT relations with the police as a member of the 3rd District Police advisory board.

As a gay Latino, he has witnessed the development of community options for Latinos and Latinas, from the day when there were no Latin-oriented clubs, through the 1987 creation of ENLACE, the Latino LGBTQ group, to today's active Latin scene.  He served on ENLACE's executive board as Secretary and participated in gay Latino contingents in the annual Hispanic Day parade.

In the wake of the 1991 disturbances in Mt. Pleasant, Mendoza joined the DC Latino Civil Rights Task Force and was instrumental in bringing ENLACE into the DC Civil Rights Task Force, of which he was a member.  Here he focused on housing issues for the Latino community and testified before the DC Council.

Mendoza has also worked with the Gray Panthers, on housing and Medicare for seniors.  His experience as a gay veteran of the Korean War led to his participation in local gay veterans groups and to documenting gay veterans' experiences.