Flashes of Pride: Martinez

Carrie George

Andy Alex Martinez, a cultural anthropology graduate student, struggled to truly express their identity while growing up in an unsupportive household.

“I know when I was a kid I didn’t quite grasp why I had to fit into one box or another, which drove my parents insane,” Martinez said.

Martinez identifies as genderqueer, another term for nonbinary, meaning they don’t identify with either male or female gender.

At 14, Martinez came out to their family as a lesbian.

“It was greeted with a lot of yelling and slurs and having things thrown at me,” Martinez said. “I remember my mother telling me to get out of her house.”

For the rest of Martinez’s high school career, tensions ran high between Martinez and their mother.

“With my mother, it’s taken awhile to get to a point where we can actually have a civil conversation,” Martinez said.

By the time Martinez and their younger sister both left for college, Martinez said their mother finally started to “come to her senses.”

“It got to the point where she was like, ‘Andy’s already walked away. You’re gonna lose both of your kids if you don’t get your act together,’” Martinez said.

Martinez attended Bowling Green University for their bachelor’s degree, which is about two hours away from their family in Stow.

“Once I was out of the house, it was a lot better,” Martinez said. “I could pretty much just ignore (my mother).”

In college, Martinez began understanding their identity more.

“I’ve been involved with the larger queer community for years and years and never really placed myself within any of the boxes in that community,” Martinez said. “When I first came out, I was identifying as a lesbian, but I have since mended that label.”

Though Martinez worked with LGBTQ organizations during their undergraduate years, they said they didn’t always feel as though they belonged within the trans community.

“I think this is a pretty common experience for people who are nonbinary,” Martinez said. “You’re not quite trans enough to be a part of the community.”

Now as a graduate student at Kent State, Martinez said they feel more like a role model than ever before. Martinez spent their first semester as a graduate student taking classes mixed with graduate and undergraduate students.

“The undergrads would be asking me a million questions about things,” Martinez said. “There tends to be this looking to grad students as examples, role models, people they can ask questions to.”

Martinez believes seeing successful members of the LGBTQ community helps younger people still struggling to find acceptance.

“For me, part of the reason that I have been so vocal is that my experiences when I was younger were pretty negative,” Martinez said. “I know a lot of people – unfortunately – that is their experience.”

Martinez said they want to help others dealing with similar experiences to what they endured.

“Having grad students and faculty and staff as well is an example of, ‘You’ll be okay, you can still do whatever it is that you’re aspiring to do,’” Martinez said.

Carrie George is the is the administration and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected]