Is this the right place? The building looked like a two story house not a facility (it didn’t have the flags when I went) I climbed the stairs to the second floor and knocked on the door that had a sign on it, “Youth group”, I had seen a few people filter in a bit before I parked.
I was greeted by a tall dark skinned boy in a grey hoody.
Hi, is this the De Colores group?
Yeah, that’s us. Come in! he said cheerily.
Are you Javier? I asked.
Yeah, that’s me. You’re Dora right? I nodded my head. Sorry we missed you last week, our group was having a mini retreat and we moved to a different location. No problem, I said.
I looked around the room. There were a few rainbow flags around, inspiring posters on the walls, a giant “The Center OC” sign sitting by the couch, overall the room was cozy. I looked at everyone in the room and they introduced themselves. Patty, who I had met at Dia de los Muertos greeted me by my name as she came in, she was a bit reserved but seem very nice. Jorge, an outspoken boy in his early/ mid twenties who was sitting in the L-shaped couch waved at me and introduced himself. Gerson, who was wearing a few AB540 pins on his army style jacket waved at me from the giant bean bag he was sitting in and Nancy, a new member, smiled at me shyly.
We did a quick introduction and everybody who had attended the Dia de los Muertos Events said a quick snippet about how we felt about the event. Jorge and Javier quickly put the agenda up on the board and jumped right into business:
Reports: Noche de Altares, Immigrant Summit Day, Mini retreat for next year, Thanksgiving Dinner, GSA Summit Planning Meeting
New Business: Scholarship fund, Website options, Bonding events
Over the course of the next few hours, I was exposed to the very active events this group helped build. I was there as an observer but I definitely was considering more involvement with them. A few of the topics they spoke about that resonated with me most were the following: their Queer People of Color Conference, Scholarship fund, and La Familia parent group.
Jorge spoke about the Conference with fondness, it had been the first of its kind started by a community organization. It began about three years ago with three people trying to organize it and now they have about fifteen people committed to making this event bigger. They had topics to educate students, teachers, parents and the aspect I found most fascinating was when he mentioned that they had brought a Catholic priest to speak to the parents. Javier chipped in saying, Most of our families are traditionally Catholic so we thought it would be great to have a progressive priest come talk about Prop 8 with them. He had voted no on Prop 8 and wanted to tell the parents how this law was hurtful to people in the community.
“La Familia” group stemmed out of this conference, the group of parents felt they need to have dialogue about having queer children. Javier and Jorge mentioned that it was a good turn out, about fifteen parents showed up. There were tears and a long discussion about it, nobody wanted the workshop to end, so they built their own group.
The scholar ship fund was something the group had committed themselves to, it was done with the purpose to financially help any individual that applied for it. I didn’t get too much details on it but I thought it was an amazing thing they were dedicating themselves to.
Overall, the meeting was great. I highly enjoyed the dialogue I was able to listen to and am seriously considering joining the organization. This group seems really activist- driven, very focused, very determined, and proactive. They reached out into the community and made it a point to let me know that they were accepting of everyone. My only critique was the slight unwelcoming vibe at the beginning of the meeting. I felt they talked to each other and didn’t really include Nancy and I at the beginning. Perhaps it was because they had just had a hectic event the night before and it was early on a Sunday morning… Nonetheless, I really liked the mission of their group and am definitely planning on returning; it is a safe space for queer Latino/a people… and for anyone for that matter.
If you want to learn more about them:
Mission: DeColores Queer Orange County creates opportunities for social engagements, community visibility and political activism by organizing cultural events, support groups, civic actions and an annual conference.
Vision: The vision of DeColores Queer Orange County is to create empowering social, supportive and political spaces for Queer Latin@s in Orange County.
Meetings are inclusive and allies are welcomed.
For more information contact Javier Saucedo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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