CSUF News Center

Campus LGBTQ Community
Celebrates 'Chosen Families'

President's Reception Loud and Proud

From rainbow cupcakes to rainbow flags, students and other campus members celebrated LGBTQ History Month with pride at an Oct. 22 reception at the Golleher Alumni House, hosted by CSUF President Fram Virjee and his wife, Julie. Guests participated in activities such as learning about the meaning behind various flags in the LGBTQ community to getting an airbrush tattoo. Special guest féi hernandez, a writer, artist and healer, gave a performance of poetry, with remarks by Nat Betancourt, coordinator of the LGBT Queer Resource Center, Eric Gonzaba, assistant professor of American studies, and President Virjee.

“Hate, homophobia, transphobia and racism exist and plague our society and communities every day. As a community we promote love and the acceptance and affirmation of all individuals and the many identities that they hold.”

— Nat Betancourt, coordinator, LGBT Queer Resource Center

Students Thu Nguyen, Christian Aguilar and Gabi Cuna pose for a photo at the university's LGBTQ History Month celebration, hosted by CSUF President Fram Virjee and his wife, Julie.

CSUF President Fram Virjee spoke about the progress the university has made in recent years in support of the LGBTQ community. Some of these points of pride include offering a Queer Studies minor program, inclusive-themed campus housing, student organizations such as the Queer Straight Alliance, and most recently, raising the rainbow pride flag in front of the university. "The progress has been steady, as it has been transformational," said Virjee. He added that the event is all about celebrating "how far we have come together, and I look forward to the work that will ultimately get us where we all want to be."

Student Vyvyana Woolridge gets an airbrushed tattoo. Tattooing is significant part of the LGBTQ community "as a form of expression and reclamation of our bodies," shared Nat Betancourt, coordinator of the LGBT Queer Resource Center.

Poet and visual artist féi hernandez (they/them pronouns) performed a series of poems about being queer, an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico, once undocumented and growing up in nearby Inglewood.

Self-described as trans, non-binary, hernandez spoke about the context of “chosen families,” the theme of the LGBTQ celebration: “What this means is that we select the people in our lives who are going to support us, we set boundaries to protect ourselves — and we teach others how to love us.”

“My name is Nat Betancourt and I use they/them pronouns and I am the coordinator for the LGBT Queer Resource Center. Never in my life would I have believed that I would stand here in front of you today and say both of those things,” said Betancourt.

A CSUF graduate, Betancourt also relayed that “for most of my life, I thought I would never be out and open about my sexual orientation or my gender identity. … It wasn’t until I made close friendships with people from school, work and my community that I found the courage to be honest and proud of my identities. … Without them, my chosen family, I would not be where I am today. To now stand here and openly, publicly, and proudly say that I am bisexual and I am genderqueer. Those words are so powerful. My existence is powerful.”

The theme of the celebration was "chosen family.” Faculty speaker Eric Gonzaba, assistant professor of American studies, spoke about the history and significance of “chosen family,” through descriptions of events like the Black Cat raid, ballroom culture and the AIDS crisis. He stressed how many queer youth are rejected by their families and find "chosen families," which are made up of friends and supporters who provide care and love.

A college graduate in American studies, with a minor in studio art, hernandez as a queer person of color struggled to navigate college in rural Pennsylvania: “What being here means to me, is continuing to be a mirror for others. People need to see that we’re out here and exist in these complexities. It’s my way of giving back.”

Performing poet hernandez shared these poems: “Blistering Feet, Under Blistering Sun,” “Dressing Myself Mami” and “Reason Men Build Walls.”

For more information or support the LGBT Queer Resource Center, visit the website or call 657-278-3454.