It’s karaoke night at the LGBT Network’s communal meeting space, the Q-Center in Long Island City, Queens, but it takes more than Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” blasted through an office wall to distract the women of Mirror Beauty Cooperative who are assembled for their weekly planning meeting.
I’m sitting with founding members Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza, along with more recent recruit Jonahi Rosa. (as well as their partner Daniel Puerto, who translated from Spanish during our interview), in one of the Q-Center’s conference rooms a dozen-odd feet from the lively lounge area. Though Mirror was conceptually born , its members haven’t yet managed to secure physical space to open up shop, each continuing to work in other salons as they meet here each week to pursue their dream: a worker-owned makeup and hair salon run by and for Jackson Heights’ trans Latinx community. At the end of the tunnel, they hope, lies not just economic independence but also freedom from the racial and gender discrimination they’ve experienced their entire lives.