Recent Comments

    LGBT Latinx Athlete Brings Global Outlook to Sports, Environmentalism … and Stripping!

    By John Chen–

    San Francisco Gay Flag Football League’s Rubén Mojica Hernandez recently took the stage and took his clothes off for a good cause. Mojica Hernandez told me for the San Francisco Bay Times, “[Stripping] empowers me to be able to say this is my body. This is me. I am proud of who I am and that I am able to get up and dance for everyone. But stripping is not about me. It’s about what it means to me, to support the causes in LGBT communities and bring people laughter and entertainment.”

    Hernandez was born in Michoacán, Mexico, but grew up in Colusa, California, a rice growing farming town north of Sacramento. “My parents were migrant workers, and in order to get me across the border, they hid me in a star-shaped piñata. I basically ‘Trojan’ my way into this country, and now I am an American citizen,” he said with pride and a smile.

    “My mother Lucila is my hero,” he continued. “She ingrained in me the importance of family, hard work and education. She also taught me to think about how to better our community. And whatever we do, how we do it, we always do it with kindness, courage and strength. This is the motto and mantra I follow every day of my life.”

    In high school, Mojica Hernandez was a model scholar athlete who took part in various community projects, played most sports and earned an admission to the University of California, Berkeley. He was the son, and the student, whom everyone envied. But he never had told anyone that he was gay.

    “I am a lot of things,” he shared. “I am Latino, awkward, weird, an uncle, an environmentalist, not too athletic athlete and a dancer. I am also gay. At Berkeley, I was blessed to be surrounded by open-minded and supportive friends who truly believe that people should be who they are and not pretend to be something they are not. These friends have become my ‘chosen family.’ And I realized it was OK to be all of those things. That was my epiphany and my coming out.”

    After graduating from Berkeley with a Conservation and Resource Studies major and a minor in Global Poverty and Practice, Mojica Hernandez joined the Peace Corps as an environmental volunteer consulting on issues such as deforestation, as well as teaching science to children in a remote mountain town of Achuapa, Nicaragua. During his time with the Peace Corps, Mojica Hernandez was recognized by the national publication La Prensa for his work in educating and training 115 Nicaraguan teachers to incorporate environment themes into all class lessons.

    Currently, he works for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), providing technical assistance to Native American communities in building and developing environmental protection programs such as climate change mitigation adaptation plans on reservations and tribal lands.

    Although his career followed his love and passion for the environment, Mojica Hernandez’s heart is, and will always remain, with his community, and especially that which includes LGBTQ individuals, immigrants and migrants. As a volunteer at Refugee Transitions, Mojica Hernandez provides much needed support, resources and friendship to youths, individuals and families who recently came to the United States.

    “I am currently on the Board for Mama G’s, where we serve hot meals and provide hope to hundreds of homeless people in [San Francisco’s] Tenderloin district,” he said. “I’ve also raised nearly $10,000 riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle for the past two years. Honestly, if I didn’t have a full-time job, I would fill up my day 24/7 with various volunteer work.”

    Recently, a friend of his suggested that he should audition to dance for Broadway Bares San Francisco, a performance program through the Richard/Ermet Aid foundation that supports HIV/AIDS initiatives, homelessness, and helping at risk youths. Having an athletic as well as a dancing background, Mojica Hernandez excitedly agreed. “Anything for charity!”

    But there was one caveat. He had to, one by one, remove his clothes while dancing for an audience. Well, this was certainly a conundrum. On the one hand, he loves to dance and has given his all to good causes. On the other hand, he would have to bare his body to who knows how many people.

    “I was conflicted and had to walk myself through the process,” he said. “I wanted to do it for the people Broadway Bares serves, but I would have to take my clothes off. I wanted to dance, but I would have to take my clothes off. I wanted my family and friends to see me perform, but I would have to take my clothes off. In the end, I decided to do the show because I was taught that whatever I do, and however I do it, I do it with courage, strength and kindness.”

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.