Two student organizations, rarely thought of as having much in common, came to together in a loud and lively celebration Wednesday evening.
The Boricua Student Association, a Puerto Rican student organization, and PRIDE Alliance, an LGBT student organization, hosted a panel discussing the challenges of being a sexual minority within an ethnic minority, called “Inception: Minority within a Minority,” in MSC 3707 on Wednesday.
Behind the panel of PRIDE Alliance leaders, sat a large screen with the words: “What are certain obstacles you feel that you face as a minority that non-minorities are not faced with?” The five leaders discussed questions that were posted anonymously on an Ask.fm page made specifically for the event.
A big part of the discussion revolved around Latino culture and religion. Many students admitted one of the biggest hurdles they faced had been their families’ strong religious background.
Cynthia Rosario, vice president of PRIDE’s Internal Affairs and a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering who identifies as a lesbian, said she had been fighting her family’s and culture’s traditional expectations for a long time, but has finally accepted herself.
“I’m Roman Catholic and you got to be straight, you got to be in love with a guy, you got to be feminine and you got to be the housewife and all that, and I’m just like, ‘no,’” she said. “I’m more the masculine type and I’m going to take care of my woman one day.”
Though she has accepted her identity, Rosario said her life wasn’t easy.
“It’s definitely a hard lifestyle but I’m proud, because I’m going to fight for what I believe in and I believe I have the right to be able to love and just to be myself,” she said.
The conference room was packed with nearly a hundred students from all backgrounds, many who shared personal stories.
Some students, such as Noelle Park, a junior majoring in anthropology, came just to learn.
“I know I definitely can’t relate as much as somebody who is in the ethnic communities because I’m white,” Park said. “But I can definitely relate to some of the experiences that LGBT members had. We all were really agreeable from what I saw on wanting change like progressive change and I’m definitely happy about that because progression is good.”
Sebastian Mata, a senior majoring in international relations, said the event would spread awareness of discrimination within the LGBT and Latino community.
“It’s going to be a chain reaction,” Mata said. “If there is another event, we’re going to have a bigger turn out and that’s great because that’s what we want.”
Rosario said the event offered ways for people to get involved with fighting discrimination. One way, she said, is for families of lesbians and gays to volunteer for the local PFLAGG or GLISEN organizations.
“If you don’t know what you’re fighting for how can you fight for it?” she said. “It’s mostly just getting out there and learning and being able to understand it, respect and just fight for everyone else’s rights.”