Students, staff learn about LGBTQ Latino culture, struggles

Carley Hull

The LGBTQ Student Center celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with its first Latino Queering History event Wednesday evening, while educating Kent State students and staff about the struggles LGBTQ persons have in Latino culture.

“The LGBTQ movement has been viewed as very, very white and very gay-male focused,” said Roxie Patton, program coordinator of the LGBTQ Student Center. “And the Queering History series is about helping people understand that there are LGBTQ people in different cultures who experience their sexuality in ways different than the mainstream would have you believe they do — and not necessarily in negative ways.”

Haleigh Rush, freshman exploratory major, said the reason she was interested in the event was to see LGBT history from different cultures.

Patton started the event by reading a letter written by Peter Barbosa, the Puerto Rican producer of the 2001 documentary “De Colores – Lesbian and Gay Latinos: Stories of Strength, Family and Love,” which was later shown at the event.

In the letter, Barbosa said his purpose with the film was “to show people how to contribute to the unlearning of homophobia.”

“[The documentary] talks about the dynamics they have with their families, with their faith, how it affected family dinners and how it affected everything in their life,” Patton said. “And it really just goes through and helps people understand that being LGBTQ is just one aspect of someone’s identity and that it influences other aspects.”

Following the movie, Patton led a discussion of the film and how being Latino and in the LGBTQ community causes family rejection, but more acceptance through education.

“The primary goals of these events is education,” said Brandon Stephens, president of PRIDE! Kent and sophomore criminology and justice studies major. “And education in general is our biggest weapon to fight for equality in all sorts of realms, and you know it’s helping people within the gender and sexual minority community specifically because when we learn about ourselves, when we learn about the different cultures within our own minority, we are better equipped to cater to these different minorities specifically.”

A handful Kent State residence assistants attended the event for an in-service training opportunity to explore other cultures and human sexuality of other cultures, said Matt Musgrave, Residence Hall Director of Centennial Court A and B.

“Residence Services asks RAs to participate to better serve the LGBT, Latino/Latina population we have,” Musgrave said.

Kent State students will have the opportunity to learn more about minority cultures within the LGBTQ community with two more Queering History series.

In October, Access Denied will discuss disability and sexuality in relation to LGBTQ History Month, and during Native American Heritage Month in November, Two Spirits One Community will discuss the Native American history of sexuality and gender.

“We really hope that students will get a better understanding of what the community is made up of and understanding in the same way that when you look throughout history, we say that history has been whitewashed in a lot of ways,” Patton said. “The accomplishments and achievements of people of color have often been completely erased from history. We don’t talk about them, and you see the same thing in the LGBTQ community.”

Contact Carley Hull at [email protected].