Club gives voice to minority group

With the addition of the new student organization, Queer People of Color Society, our campus is living up to its reputation as a university that prizes diversity.

The new organization was formed by Desiree Stevens, a 22-year-old first- year transfer student. Stevens is a double major in Spanish and sociology.

Queer People of Color Society’s goal is to provide a safe space for students who identify as lesbian,  gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, people of color or allies of the LGBTQ communiy. The society’s wants to bring their issues to the larger student body, said Stevens, president of the organization.

“I used to go to UC Santa Barbara and there were a lot of different queer organizations that recognized the intersection of culture and race and sexuality,” she said. “There were a lot of groups for people of color who were also queer and so I came here and I was looking for that space and it hadn’t been established here.”

Stevens decided to speak with someone at the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center to ask if there were any LGBTQ people of color-specific organizations, Stevens said. When she found out there were none, she took matters into her own hands and got in touch with Krystle Tonga, a Chico State graduate student and current assistant program director at the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center.

“There has not been a lot of programming specifically for people of color, and so when I approached her with the idea she was really excited, and a lot of people who are a part of the club understand how important and crucial the space is,” she said.

It’s important to have a group that represents the invisible communities on campus, Tonga said.

“There are not many programs geared towards providing a space for LGBTQ people of color and I think this group is providing a voice to a voiceless community on campus,” she said.

The Queer People of Color Society represents an opportunity to empower the community from within, Tonga said.

“I hope to help support a space for students within the LGBTQ community of color where they can express and validate their experiences in Chico,” she said.

There are issues besides homophobia that queer people of color experience, including racism, that have really impacted them, Stevens said. These societal difficulties make this new organization necessary.

“I want the club to be primarily a safe space for people who identify as LGBTQ people of color, but I also want it to be an educational space, because right now when you hear queer or think of the LGBTQ community, or just see the programming that’s done on campus, usually you don’t see people of color there,” she said. “So I want it to be known that there’s diversity in the queer community.”

The organization is important to LGBTQ people of color, because they face issues unique to their cultural background, said Shyna Deepark, a senior art major and member of the Queer People of Color Society.

“I hope to help educate and raise awareness about the queer community as well as get to know others who identify the same way I do,” she said.

The club will promote the member’s specific identities to the greater campus community, Stevens said.

“You are going to see people from different cultural backgrounds and different gender identities and expressions,” she said.

The Queer People of Color Society will host a panel Nov. 7 from 4 to 5 p.m. during the annual LGBTQ conference on campus.


Nicole Santos can be reached at [email protected] or @iam_NicoleS on Twitter.