The Cadena Cultural Center teamed up with Lambda Society and Queer People of Color to host Fullerton College’s fifth annual LGBT forum on Wednesday.
Though it was advertised as an LGBTQ+ event, the forum itself focused on issues that affect all students in the queer community.
“There was a larger conversation outside the binary where students were much more comfortable discussing other aspects that are not just the L [lesbian] and the G [gay] but the rest of the sexual minority spectrum,” said facilitator Peter Cruz, political science and paralegal major.
The group of about 30 attendees broke up into small groups of four or five students and two facilitators, who led discussions based on questions made by Lambda and QPOC.
“We created [the questions] intentionally very open-ended but also just specific enough to enable people to start to realize about their own experiences and begin to reflect about everything, and that was our goal because we don’t talk about these things often enough,” said Noely Padilla, Lambda Society president.
Discussion topics focused on the student experience with questions about inclusivity on campus, faculty Safe Space training, and microaggressions described as subtle forms of discrimination.
“If a regular person was told, ‘Why can’t you make up your mind?’ they’d be like, ‘Well, I’ve got options,’” Padilla said. “But if a bisexual person was told that about their romantic life, it’s very offensive. It’s personal even, and many things happen like that every day.”
Another goal of the forum was to help straight allies of the queer community become better allies.
“Coming from my experience, they state an opinion they would have and say this is how it is in the pansexual community or asexual community when they themselves are not asexual and pansexual to begin with,” said Kat Phan, art major. “Although there are allies out there and I am thankful for allies, they are not the reason we are talking about queer issues.”
This year’s forum was not only an opportunity for members of the queer community to discuss important issues, it was also a chance to network and share similar experiences. For Phan, the forum made her more aware of the campus resources and organizations available for the queer community and encouraged her to get involved.
“I was set in a very comfortable and safe environment, and I wanted to really find that same sort of community where I could be comfortable talking about myself and other issues with other queer people,” Phan said.
With the information gathered from the forum, the Cadena Cultural Center, Lambda Society and QPOC all aim to create safe spaces on campus where everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can feel safe and welcome.
“Often times, we kind of just let these things fall by the wayside and because we don’t discuss it, it’s like it never happened,” Padilla said. “Part of the forum was to really create a student voice that could be heard by higher-ups in the administration and other students. It’s all about creating a presence, a positive presence.”