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Queer of All Colors

Panelists discuss struggles faced by queer youth of color

Dr.+Rigoberto+Marquez+speaking+to+the+crowd
Dr. Rigoberto Marquez speaking to the crowd

Dr. Rigoberto Marquez speaking to the crowd

Louis Ayala

Louis Ayala

Dr. Rigoberto Marquez speaking to the crowd

Alex Montgomery, Contributor

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In the Los Angeles Room of the University-Student Union on the evening of April 12, issues facing queer youth of color today like intersectional identity and support systems within an educational environment found articulation and advocacy in Dr. Rigoberto Marquez, the keynote speaker of a panel discussion titled “Supporting Queer Youth of Color in Schools and Communities”.

The attendees of this event were largely made up of graduate-level students in Allison Mattheis’s Queer Studies in Education course. Mattheis is an Assistant Professor with the College of Education. While not actually organizing the event herself, Mattheis was integral in arranging Dr. Marquez’s visit to campus.

“So really, I utilized the resources of the Cross Cultural Centers to help bring Rigo to campus. So I knew Rigo through my national professional organization, and I knew that he was local, so basically I thought, if I could get enough money to just pay his plane ticket, he could come here and he would have a place to stay.” Mattheis also helped to arrange the participation of the panelists that followed Marquez’s initial presentation during the first half of the event.

Marquez, a Los Angeles native, is an Assistant Professor of the Teachers College at Columbia University, and a postdoctoral fellow conducting independent research on top of teaching classes.

“All of my research is in LA, a lot of my research is based in LA communities.” Marquez noted. “So because my work is on queer youth of color, I’m always thinking about those intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, and how those things look on the ground and how people are engaging in those conversations.”

Marquez gave a lengthy and informative presentation on not only the dilemmas facing queer youth of color (especially those with Latino/Latina background) nationwide in regards to institutional representation/acknowledgement, but provided the audience with his own background and education as a queer man of color working on behalf of LGBTQI individuals at the secondary and post-secondary educational level.

After the presentation, Marquez answered questions from the audience before surrendering the floor to three panelists: Ari Gutierrez, Jorge Diaz, and Judy Chasin. Representing the Latino Equality Alliance, Bienestad, and the Los Angeles Unified School District respectively, these panelists have held a previous panel discussion on similar topics discussed by Marquez.

The event and discussion were for the most part organized and moderated by Alejandro Murro, the coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center within the Cross Cultural Centers at Cal State LA. Murro has held their position here since July of last year, but has been working in similar spaces (cultural centers, gender and sexuality resource centers, etc.) since 2013.

“We do a lot of events centered around the LGBT community, but they aren’t always necessarily academic, or they aren’t always necessarily kind of like, presentation style,” said Murro in a post-discussion interview. When asked what sort of queer-oriented events one might look for in the future, Murro gave a promising, but vague, response:

“We’re definitely looking forward to partnering up with different academic departments to have that academic lense, in terms of like queer theory, or education, sociology, philosophy, all those different things.”

It seems that public discussions like this one, which draw attention to queer youth of color in a localized context aren’t going away anytime soon, and the community is none the worse for wear as a result.

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Queer of All Colors