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In early June, I arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana to work with Dr. Ruth Landau. Her research thesis involves understanding veterinary services/access to Latino and Spanish-speaking clients. We met through a mutual acquaintance that encouraged us to contact one another based on our interest in working with the Latino community.
I was very excited to contribute to Dr. Ruth’s research. I was also eager to meet her in person as we had already established a friendship through our phone conversations about her outreach efforts. I was delightfully surprised when my visit to Indianapolis turned out to be so much more than I was expecting.
During my stay in Indianapolis, by chance, I met a wonderful, new friend named Leila Peters. She shared with me her recent published book titled: In Spite of Everything, For the Woman She Loved. The reason I found the book so special is because for the first time I was exposed to something in the media that highlighted the long lasting and meaningful relationship of same-sex couples. I found myself reading through chapters of the book in the evening. I was touched by stories of lesbian couples that had fought against all kinds of odds to be together and have strong relationships. I realized how much the media fails to capture this aspect of the LGBTQ story and its impact on young women.
I went through a long process of self-evaluation and learning to become comfortable identifying as queer. Self-acceptance and identity can sometimes be the first challenging step for LGBTQ students.
Today, more colleges are adding an LGBTQ center or support community that serves as a resource for students and the campus at large. Whether you self-identify, are discovering your sexual identity or consider yourself heterosexual, it is is a great place to explore your campus’ center to learn a different perspective.
During my time at LMU, I do not recall a strong LGBTQ community presence. I know this has changed with the opening of an LGBTQ support center a couple of years ago; a very progressive step for a Catholic university! The center has expanded resources and activities available for the campus. It is more active than ever today! My experience at Penn has been completely different. I would like to share more about my experience with the LGBTQ community at Penn in the coming blogs.
I want to be a resource for Latinas that are lesbians, transsexual, bisexual or queer. From personal experience, I know how difficult it can be to talk to your family. They may be culturally or religiously opposed to accepting anything other than the expected male/female relationships. There are not many places where young Latina students can turn and share their questions, thoughts, or feelings about being LGBTQ especially when the family is not supportive. For this reason, I was excited that Leila’s book also included the story of a Puerto Rican lesbian couple. Their story captured the challenge of dealing with disapproval from family members.
My time in Indianapolis was a great chance to continue my interest in outreach to Latino pet owners. However, it turned out to be even more meaningful in discovering resources that I want to share. It is the perfect opportunity to begin the conversation about the often invisible LBGTQ Latina. This is just another aspect of our rich and diverse identity as Latinas that I want to highlight!