John Leguizamo is making it clear that he supports the gender-neutral term Latinx as an alternative to Latino or Latina.
Leguizamo Does America, which airs on MSNBC and Peacock, is a travel show that takes viewers to six locations: New York, Miami, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. In addition, Leguizamo shares the cultural history of each locale and its ties to Latin identity, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’m a history addict. I’m an idiot savant in history,” the Nuyorican explained in an interview with the outlet. “Latin history’s become my thing — my passion — and I try to smuggle it wherever I can.”
When asked what inspired him to create the show, the 62-year-old admitted the network initially didn’t want him.
“I was pitching this show everywhere and it took four years. Cesar Conde, the chairman of NBC[Universal], being Latinx is why this show exists, is why I had this opportunity. No other executives were seeing the value in talking about Latin culture,” Leguizamo explained.
He continued, “I live in New York City where we’re equal to whites in population, and we’re less than one percent of the journalists at the New York Times, less than one percent of the stories being told in the New York Times, the New York Post, the New Yorker, the New York Magazine. This is our city, and it’s like a cultural apartheid. That’s what’s happening because we don’t have enough journalists or executives who are Latinx, who see the value in our Latin history, our Latin stories, and in our Latin culture.”
During the interview, Leguizamo embraced the term “Latinx” and questioned why it faces so much backlash.
“I don’t know why Latinx is contentious, but it’s contentious. People get so riled up about it,” he said. “To me, it’s ridiculous. Just the fact that we have a name, and that we’re checking a box, is huge. I mean, I know none of us want to be checking boxes. None of us want to be constantly talking about race, but you have to because otherwise you get excluded. Your communities don’t get funding. Your schools don’t get funded — unless you check that box and vote. You know what I mean? But I love Latinx.”
Many nonbinary people as well as other members of the LGBTQ+ community argue “Latino” and “Latina” aren’t the correct terms to use to identify themselves. Latinx is a gender-neutral word often used to describe people with Latin American heritage.
Despite those who disagree with the term, the 62-year-old actor and producer believes it’s helping Latinos move in the right direction.
“I know older people and some younger people don’t, but I feel it’s progressive. I feel like it’s inclusive. I feel like it’s inclusive of women. It’s inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. I feel like it sounds like a superhero, like X-Men. I just love the sound of it,” Leguizamo said.