Being queer and a person of color living in the United States has never been the easiest lived experience. From racism to homophobia to discrimination against my Spanish mother tongue, I have had to learn to maneuver the way I present myself out into the world to ensure my safety. However, today, I stand here to say that I am no longer ashamed to be who I am. People, majority straight and white, talk about how queer BIPOC individuals make their personality all about their race or culture or sexuality. To some, this may seem tedious but to people like me who lives the queer BIPOC experience every single day, I assure you it is not a personality trait nor is it something we want to live through. I am queer BIPOC because I live through these intersectional experiences Every. Single. Day. From my engineering classes at the University of Michigan where I can be one of the only BIPOC individuals in the class to being one of the only LGBTQ+ people in a social setting to being the only queer BIPOC individual at events, I continue to struggle with being accepted in society.
That’s the whole reason why I created a task force at U-M. As the former Diversity Affairs Chair in LSA Student Government, I sought the need to create fundamental resources for queer students and specifically queer students of color at the University of Michigan. Jump-starting the first-ever LGBTQ+ Task Force in U-M’s 205 years was not easy in any way. I actually released my first op-ed about two months ago, where I detailed what it meant for me to build the task force. In short, what it means to me is inclusion and acceptance. To be accepted for all your identities, not just one. I struggle to find community and common ground with my Latinx folks or with my LGBTQ+ folks. Why? Because it’s as if I have to choose one identity when I am in one group and shut down the other for the sake of making that specific group feel comfortable. For instance, when I am in the Latinx community, it’s as if I have to tone down my queer identity to make the straight Latino men comfortable or the community. Or when I am in LGBTQ+ circles, I have to tone down my Latinx identity to make white LGBTQ+ people comfortable. Since the queer gaze is through the white gaze, I have found it hard to relate to my white queer peers who hold that white privilege or who see the world through the white gaze. White privilege can come in many different forms, from not being questioned by authority about your race or ethnicity or being asked to repeat yourself in a social setting. That’s exactly what this task force tackles: queer BIPOC oppression on campus and around the world.
Because of this, the Task Force was designed to oversee obstacles pertaining to queer BIPOC students not only on campus but as well as the city of Ann Arbor. Though the Task Force is new, I hope that we lay the foundation for the future leaders that come after us. We are not victims. We are survivors. We are LGBTQ+