PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland’s first LGBTQ+ mural will soon stand along Northwest Broadway and Northwest Couch street. The piece titled “Never Look Away” will showcase the beauty and struggle of Oregon’s LGBTQ+ community with the faces of Portland’s pride heroes. Among the eight being featured is David Martinez.
Martinez is the current deputy director of internal affairs at Latino Network, a Portland-based non-profit working to empower and educate the Latinx community.
“A common theme throughout everything that I do is around access and around the community,” Martinez said. “I come from the belief that we are all able to make an impact. All of us have a story and experience a value of strength and those of us that come from a community, whether its Latino, whether we’re gay, whether from a rural setting, whether, from an urban setting, those experiences give us that much more to draw from, and so I really do try to represent that and reflect that.”
“One of the greatest highlights for me was definitely just bringing people together, and seeing the volunteers, the people who were shaping the program as it evolved,” Martinez said. “It was a reception, then it was a weekend celebration and it was five days and then we added a scholarship for LGBTQ Latino students. . . all of this was just done out of just the intent to celebrate and recognize and be a part–a visible part of the pride experience.”
In the early 2000s, Martinez worked as the Policy and Constituent Relations Manager for Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey. He also served as her liaison when Multnomah County made the historic decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Today, Martinez serves as the co-chair for the annual Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Conference for high schoolers– empowering Latinx youth the reach their full potential.
“He leads by example. David is someone who — he just gets things done and he does that in a way that brings people along, brings the community along. I think his guiding star truly is the community,” Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio said.
Martinez has over 20 years of higher education experience, with an extensive background in the areas of student recruitment, retention, student development, community outreach, and multicultural affairs at both private and public colleges and universities in Oregon.
Martinez was the first in his family to graduate high school and college. He said his drive and dedication to make a difference are rooted in his life experience. David’s parents were farmworkers that settled in Ontario, Oregon to raise their eight kids.
“They’re my inspiration, my parents their journey was to have a better life for us kids.,” Martinez said. “It was just this level of commitment. They were working hard for us and so I was going to do whatever I could.”
Martinez was also a past board member of Outside In, Cascade AIDS Project, Portland-Guadalajara Sister
City Association and a Class 35 Fellow of the American Leadership Forum (ALF- Oregon).
“It’s just being part of a community. It’s finding where you can make an impact and stepping in that space,” he said.
Martinez stepped forward, so others could. He’s helped pave the way for Latinx youth and the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. He says that while his story isn’t unique, he hopes it inspires.
“I just hope that being a part of this mural that people find something that they can– and I do believe they will– that they can take away and use– but I think if anything that they feel seen,” he added.
To read more about the “Never Look Away” mural, click here.