Queer Visibility Day

Diana Juarez, Staff Writer

Rio Hondo’s Queer Initiative hosted Queer Visibility Day at the student union on April 3rd, 2019. Siblings and hosts of the podcast Café Con Chisme, Yasmin and Sebastian Ferrada, joined students for an afternoon of chisme with a side of education and a dash of heart to heart storytelling that ended with a couple of rounds of Joteria.

“The purpose of Queer Visibility is to show students that representation matters. To show that we ARE here. Many times there isn’t a representation of the LGBTQ+ community and if there is it’s through cishet (cisgender heterosexual) actors. Having Cafe con Chisme at Rio Hondo was amazing,” said Christina Almanza, student senator to Cultural Diversity with the Associated Students of Rio Hondo College (ASRHC).

Almanza, along with help from Magdalena Munoz, advisor to Student Life and Leadership, and the Cultural Diversity task force helped organize the event.

An Event All About Inclusion

Students got the opportunity to ask important questions both in regard to the queer identity and to how podcasting works. At times, the questions were hard-hitting and emotional. One student shared their experience about coming out and being told by their mother that they would be sent to conversion therapy.

This was something that both Ferrada siblings felt strongly against, stating their disapproval for conversion therapy and offered their apologies for what the student had gone through.

“[Coming out] is a process, it is a journey. My parents supporting me was also a process. I think that every year we’re kind of growing and getting to do a little bit better. So, for folks who are either in that stage of not being sure how to come out or have just come out and have gotten a really negative response. I know it’s hard and it’s really painful, but finding folks who can be your chosen family during that time will be very helpful,” said Sebastian.

“For us, having to push back and having to say things that make folks feel uncomfortable is empowering to those who need it to be empowering…It’s necessary for us with identities that are marginalized to have these conversations even if it makes people feel uncomfortable,” said Yasmin.

A Leading Voice and More Events to Come

Haily Hernandez, a chair for Sustainability with ASRHC, shared her thoughts on the importance of events like this one.

“Queer events bring the community together because it exposes important issues that wouldn’t be talked about otherwise. A combination of serious and social queer events and topics is important because it isn’t just one or the other,” said Hernandez.

It’s the reason that Queer Initiative was created. Almanza, along with a group of students, created this pilot program in hopes of giving students in the LGBTQ+ community a place where they can feel safe and free to be themselves.

The Queer Initiative will be hosting a Selena Night April 15 in the student union from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. If you have any questions or would like to be a part of the Queer Initiative head over to the student union and ask for Christina.

El Paisano originally published this article in print form on April 10th.

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