LGBTQ groups expand in cultural houses

Despite the LGBTQ Cooperative’s large following at Yale, some students are looking to create new outlets for LGBTQ students within their own cultural communities.

Fonzy Toro ’15 created De Colores, a group for Latino LGBTQ students, at the beginning of the school year, and now students in the Asian-American Cultural Center are creating an LGBTQ group for Asian students. The organizers of these groups said the smaller student organizations provide a space for more intimate discussion and self-exploration than existing LGBTQ resources on campus, adding that perceptions of sexuality can vary across racial groups.

“Because [sexuality] is such a sensitive issue, it might feel safer, especially for freshmen coming to terms with their own identity, to be able to form relationships first [through cultural groups] before becoming part of an activist community,” said Amaris Olguin ’15, a La Casa staff member.

Toro said he discovered the need for an LGBTQ group for Latino students while speaking with many upperclassmen in La Casa who said an LGBTQ group within the community could be beneficial. De Colores now has a regular membership of about 15 students and is growing, Toro said, adding that the group has organized events this year including a talk on Latino sexuality and a discussion about coming out in the Latino community.

Jonathan Villanueva ’14 is working to create the new LGBTQ group in the Asian-American Cultural Center with other students. Villanueva, the lead organizer of the group, said he realized the current LGBTQ groups on campus sometimes do not address LGTBQ issues in different cultural contexts.

“Initially, I was worried whether it would be okay to create more [LGBTQ] groups [based] on race, but it’s better to have an excess of space within which to talk,” Villanueva said.

Daisuke Gatanaga ’14, an AACC peer liaison who said he would be interested in helping Villanueva’s new group, said the peer liaison system forces some students to “compartmentalize themselves” and choose between being an LGBTQ peer liaison or a cultural house peer liaison. Gatanaga has organized a discussion event between the eight AACC and six LGBTQ peer liaisons to take place in the next two weeks. The goal of the discussion event is to foster greater collaboration among peer liaisons, Gatanaga said, adding that he does not recall participating in any such events as a peer liaison. The meeting will allow LGBTQ peer liaisons to better understand the specific needs of the Asian student community and vice versa, Gatanaga said.

Kenneth Crouch ’14, president of Prism, an LGBTQ group in the Afro-American Cultural House, agreed that having more groups with specific cultural audiences allows students to feel more comfortable joining the LGBTQ community.

The Co-op will help the cultural groups in its role as an umbrella organization for LGBTQ groups on campus, said the organization’s president Hilary O’Connell ’14. Last week, De Colores threw a “Hallowqueen Party” at La Casa in conjunction with the LGBTQ Co-op. Part of the social event’s goal was to publicize the De Colores name to the many members of the Co-op, said O’Connell.

“[All the LGBTQ groups on campus] focus on different identities and sexualities, but we are all working on similar goals and similar projects,” Toro said.

There are 16 different LGBTQ groups on campus, O’Connell said.

Comments

  • nomegustas

    This is great to see. When I was at Yale, we kept trying to revitalized Prism as the only queer people of color group- it would never take off. I think we might’ve been misguided by trying to force all those voices together into one group for the sake of being QPOC. It seems like it’s working a lot better by having De Colores and will hopefully work for the Asian group. However, I hope that QPOC involvement in the Co-op continues. The reason Prism formed initially was because QPOC didn’t feel comfortable in the Co-op. Ideally this new model will keep QPOC active in the sub-groups and in the Co-op itself. Then again, it’s not like there’s any dearth of queer folks on campus. Pretty much every active Latino is queer.