Crossroads Series : LGBTQ & the Hispanic Community
The significance of safe spaces for vulnerable people has become more prominent in today’s political climate.
On Monday, March 19, the office of Student Involvement hosted an installment of its Crossroad series; LGBTQ and the Hispanic Community. The event comprised of a panel discussion where attendees were able to ask questions and share personal insights on bridging the gap between both topics. Each member belonging to each community, the panelists included Jade Watts, who is Cuban and pansexual, Steven Aranda, who is gay, Jennifer Pantoja, who identifies herself as bisexual, and Eduardo Meza, who is gay and Mexican.
The Crossroad series is designed to look at life’s intersections. It provides a space for participants throughout the campus to openly discuss various aspects of identity and culture over lunch and show support .
“I think we can support young hispanic members of the lgbtq community by raising awareness that the community exists and letting them know it’s ok to be your genuine self.” Said Pantoja
The intersection between the LGBTQ and Hsipanic community is an apt topic for discussion because of the extensive nature of issues affecting each component. According to the Pew Research Center, Latino/as made up to 17.4 percent of the total population in the United States in 2014. Further data analysis by Williams Institute approximates that 1.4 million LGBTQ Latino/a addults living in the U.S and that there are 146,000 Latino/same sex households.
“My parents were first in disbelief when I told them I was moving in with my girlfriend but then they started to be very angry and confused,” Watts said. “They ended up pretty much halting communication with me which was weird because your parents are supposed to love you unconditionally. There are already so many people against for who you are and you never really think your parents would be one of them until they are.”
Each panelist was asked to introduce themselves, share their cultural background as well as how they relate to the LGBTQ and Hispanic Community. Questions ranged from family, highs and lows faced from being in both communities, misconceptions as well as advice on acceptance and support for young Hispanic members of the LGBTQ community.
Many individuals in one or both of these communities have been forced to deal with discord on more than one front; be it family, religion, etc. In surveys conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, more than two thirds of Hispanics identify themselves as Roman Catholics. In Catholicism, homosexaulity is frowned upon and considered to be wrong and sinful.
“Some aspects that are hindrances in hispanic culture is the heavy religious presence in our culture. It is a strong influence on how people view LGBTQ community,” said Pantojo on Religion. “In hispanic culture it is frowned upon to be straight or non binary. We are seen as confused, perverted, overly sexual, sinners and are told we are going to hell.”