“We are living in a powerful time on the planet,” said Erica Woodland, founder of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network and keynote speaker at Cal State Fullerton’s LGTBQ History Month President’s Reception held Oct. 20 at the Fullerton Arboretum.
“Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in the visibility, leadership and struggle for the rights of black people, undocumented people, indigenous people and LGBTQ people,” said Woodland.
While movements like Black Lives Matter and UndocuQueer are examples of progress, Woodland said queer and trans people of color (QTPoC) continue to be denied access to basic human rights, housing, employment, health care, education and safety.
“QTPoC are still living in an extremely violent and tenuous situation,” she said. “Many live in a state of hypervigilance or hyperarousal, meaning we move through the world with an extremely heightened awareness of what can go wrong, always alert, always on guard.
“Many of us struggle with feeling like we do not belong anywhere, leading to a deep sense of alienation. This impacts our ability to build trust — trust that is required for marginalized people to organize in a world that constantly tells us we are unworthy.”
For the past 13 years, Woodland has worked as a case manager, therapist, life coach, facilitator, trainer, social worker, program director, researcher and clinical supervisor with youth, people of color and LGBTQ people from her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, to her current residence in Oakland, California.
Among a crowd of campus and community members, Woodland shared how her own college years were transformational, allowing her to reflect on personal experiences with racial trauma, internalized homophobia, misogyny and depression.
“Were it not for friends of mine encouraging me to seek therapy, I would never have started the long and painful process of healing,” she said. “I would never have become a healer myself.”
The reception — sponsored by the Office of the President, Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers and the LGBT Queer Resource Center — also included a moment of silence for LGBTQ lives lost in 2016, a community art piece and recognition of four student groups that have provided campus leadership and vision: A-Spectrum, T*Time, Queer People of Color and the Queer Straight Alliance.
“This is an incredibly important time in history for us to honor the LGBTQ community,” said President Mildred García. “Back in June, like many of you, I awoke to the news of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. And while Orlando may be on the other side of the country, that is no distance in the hearts and minds of a globally-conscious and compassionate Titan community.
“I take solace in knowing that Cal State Fullerton, and all of us here, are the solution,” she said. “We know that the solution to violence, injustice and intolerance begins with equitable access to quality education in a welcoming, diverse environment.”
García also underscored the University’s commitment to LGBTQ inclusivity, from the creation of a queer studies minor in 2011 and the founding of the LGBT Queer Resource Center in 2012 to a 2016 resolution passed by Associated Students Inc. to support LGBTQ student life.
Learn more about Cal State Fullerton’s LGBTQ History Month activities, including a “Black LGBT Lives Matter” symposium Nov. 7 in the Titan Student Union’s Titan Theater.