By Andrew Ayala
Jose M. Aguilar-Hernandez, Ph.D., gave a speech on queer people of color to close out East Los Angeles College and Los Angeles Community College District’s first pride week on April 26 at the S2 recital hall.
Hernandez is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department in the College of Education and Integrative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.
He constantly has conversations with and of queer people of color and is able to develop relationships, which allow him to reach out to them through speeches.
“I wanted Hernandez to talk about whatever he wanted to talk about.
I didn’t want to put limits on what he said. I like how he was bringing up his perspective of growing up as a queer person of color and how he can really impact people’s lives,” said Joe Gama, student ambassador of the First Year Experience Program and co-coordinator of pride week.
The powerpoint presentation was titled “Adding Color to the Rainbow: A Queer People of Color Dialogue.”
Hernandez began dissecting the meaning of his title by saying it meant “Adding layers and complexity to what it means to be queer or LGBTQ.”
He said that his perception of being a queer person of color was taught to him as an undergrad. “ For queer people of color, the challenge is remaining whole in a society that fragments us,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said that queer people of color specifically, must try and exist as multiple identities.
This makes it hard for a person to “check-out” of a certain identity in different situations. He says it is important to “Bring visibility to the experiences of being queer,” since there wasn’t much published or written work on queer people of color as he grew up.
The speech touched on the history, current status and personal anecdotes of being a queer person of color.
“It is important to speak-up. Advocate.
“When you see an injustice call it out. Commit to your cause and continue to try and expand rights,” said Hernandez.
Voices of people of color have been silenced historically by erasure or keeping certain subjects and topics under the table instead of bringing them to light and allowing everybody to get their story out.
This makes it difficult to get an understanding of the struggles and issues that queer people of color go through such as micro-aggressions and stigmas that come with being a part of this community.
Although many advancements have been made to accept queer and LGBTQ people such as laws that allow equal marriage or safe spaces that have been created on campuses, there are still challenges that they must face in their daily lives.
He said, “The biggest issues of today are erasure and assumptions.” Since these issues are intersectional, making assumptions is like saying their individual problems aren’t important.
Hernandez, Ph.D. says how it wasn’t until this generation or the previous one, who paved the way for people to identify with their own sexuality.
He compliments the plus added to LGBTQ+ by saying, “Sexuality is more fluid than letters. The plus helped people identify even deeper within the community.”
Being that this is the first pride week not only at ELAC but in the district, Joe Gama and Priscilla Rubio did something different on campus and in the community.Hernandez said, “I am really proud of the committee that put this on. They are making history by beginning events like this.”
It was hard growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s as queer because of the AIDS and HIV pandemic, which caused people to believe that the queer community was highly infectious. “Instead of finding a solution, people justified the deaths with God’s doing,” said Hernandez.
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