Students poured in to the room, bolstering with energy, and talk about their interactions within the LGBTQ+ community. The room was filled with the sense of safety and security and as the forum continued, more and more students gained the confidence to speak up about their experiences, whether they be at home, school or the work place.
“I am doing mine [presentation] on how to take care of people in your community and how to ask for help, how to openly communicate with people your needs and wants and make sure they are met,” said Rosabell Janec, co-chair for the queer people of color group. “A lot of us are displaced or treated harshly by family so we need to make sure we know how to communicate with each other and know that we are all in it together.”
Many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community feel frightened to speak up outside of these types of events, due to the current political climate. Students that spoke, often began by saying thank you to the event coordinators for giving them this place to talk and feel like part of the community.
Josue Paredez, one of the coordinators discussed politics, past, present and future. For his segment of the presentation, he felt that discussing the difference that young people can make was important. He spoke about different types of data, bringing the audience’s attention to the fact that the lowest voting group are people between the ages of 18 and 29. He also talked about looking into candidates that are running for House seats, as well as the 12 propositions that are up for vote.
“Today I am going to talk about political engagement and why it is such an important thing in today’s society, especially today with all that is going on,” said Josue Paradez, political science major and LGBTQ+ forum student coordinator. “It’s pretty easy to get discouraged, especially within the LGBTQ community, but there is a lot of hope out there.”
One attendee spoke more than most, but it became apparent why after she discussed how a large portion of her family had shunned her for ‘coming out of the closet’ and how they chose to vote for Trump even though they knew how he treated the LGBTQ+ community.
The speakers engaged with the audience, really trying to show that not only was this a safe place for them to discuss among their peers, but that they wanted to hear their voices and experiences. As more questions were asked throughout the presentation, it appeared that more hands shot up to answer and be engaged in the different discussions.
The main message that the coordinators wanted to get across was self-preservation, but not just self, but community preservation as well and how the two should interconnect, whether that be political, relationships or through art.
“These are extraordinary times, and they are very uneasy times for the LGBTQ+ community, so that is what the students are talking about today, how do we do self-preservation and each one of them showed the various ways that they express themselves and listening to you guys [the speakers] I have absolute faith that are going to do fantastic at the University,” said Vincent White, Cadena Cultural Center coordinator.
The message was received by those in the audience, many going up to each speaker afterward saying thank you and asking about how they too can become more involved in this specific community.
White went on to talk about his involvement with the LGBTQ+ community.
“I have been the president of the gay and lesbian association of district employees, and am now the secretary, but I have been involved with them for about ten years.”
This forum seemed to open many students up, and feel not only welcome but safe to talk about their lives and experience as a part of this community.
“I am happy that there are safe places like this that can give each one of us a voice and we can all come together,” said Agadette Solis, a student involved with the LGBTQ community.
If you wish to know more about events like this, please visit the Cadena Cultural Center site.
Also, if you wish to attend a meeting for the queer people of color group they meet every second and fourth Thursday of the month in the student center, room 311.