I am the result of a very deep, personal journey; thousands of Latine QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) ancestral sparks that connected to who they were, built community, and with their voices/actions increased visibility and changed the course of history for me to be who I am—FREE.
I am an example of a latine story, a personal struggle that was overcome. My shelter became my mind, and my freedom became my thoughts that could not be expressed freely. I was a bee orchid, wearing a custom to survive in a world where being who I was, what I was feeling, how I was seeing the world, being seen and heard as a lesbian was not accepted by society.
Like a bee orchid, the art of camouflage and finding my way around the world became the mechanism to protect/take care of myself for years. Hide-and-seek was not only a game but a strategy—a bridge to find freedom.
Freedom started once I connected to the community and found a safe space alongside others that were living openly and proud of their journeys/stories. Experiencing so much joy, happiness, and openness gave me the courage-strength to follow my heart and be who I am.
The invitation to be part of Centro Hispano of Dane County came in August 2019 in an envelope full of hope, healing, wellbeing, and community. Centro’s love language to holistically value youth-families-communities from the inside-out connected deeply to my own journey and inspired me to be part of a group of 15 talented peers that collectively co-create fun, healing, creative spaces. The youth squad plays a pivotal role in walking alongside each other/youth/families to co-imagine a sustainable community where we learn, share, and express our individuality.
Centro promotes nurturing spaces where 230+ students can have a sense of belonging in their academic community, feel their work has value, know they can succeed and that their abilities and competencies grow with their effort to support their families, communities, and other students from an equitable, holistic lens.
Many of the students who are part of Centro’s youth programs are low-income, first-generation college students, and English language learners who are on their own when it comes to their college journey. Many are part of families that work multiple jobs and are often compelled to get an after-school job themselves. As such, these students find themselves with limited support from their parents or school to navigate the increasingly complex high school to college transition.
We’ve developed additional wrap-around opportunities through family and community initiatives to support parents as students navigate their transition journeys from middle school to high school to college as well as engage community peers that would like to invest their time through volunteering.
I would love to celebrate/see more young people experience the joy/pride of being who they are—feeling seen, heard, and valued and continue to trailblaze spaces for more QTPOC folx and DREAM BIG.
2022 Pride in Color
The Change-Maker: From his time with the City of Seattle to his new role at Promega, Christopher Peguero has always advocated for equitable change.
The Pastor: Cameron Overton (he/him) is the executive pastor at Zao MKE Church and a Black transman called to build the church into an intersectional and queer liberated space committed to the liberation of all people.
The Ancestral Flame: Maria Paula Lujum is the Youth Programs Manager for Centro Hispano of Dane County.
The Educator: Stacy Clark is a Community Health and Equity champion whose mission is to provide services and education to others that he may not have had as a young, black, gay male.
The Good Foot: Al Poliarco is the force behind Barefoot Hands Bodywork
The Dynamo: Clyde Mayberry is the CEO & Founder of the first African American Performing Arts Center in Dane County.