Luis Viquez(He/Him) has been an outreach member and counselor at Gay City since 2002.
When you came out the first time, what made you feel to do so?
Very important question. Coming out for me is a long never ending fluid constant path or journey. I can not recall a specific event, set of events of something in particular that might have triggered “coming out”. The first thought that comes to my mind is “What is coming out? What does it mean individually and collectively? If I have to specify, it was probably when I started to feel more secure about who I was a person, as a human being and how that matched to whom or what I felt attracted to or happy being me. What made feel safe in accepting who I was, it was the validation of feeling supported and good about myself and who I was, by being accepted about my feeling, who I choose to love or feel connected with. Coming out is a very fluid long term never ending process that can accompany us all our lives. If I have to put a specific memory to my coming out and feeling safe, it was probably the first time connecting to others who felt or saw me in the same way they were feeling too, other LGBTQ people who accepted me for my feeling and heart the way it was.
How do you ally yourself with others who are part of the LGBTQ community?
I think by finding common ground, by connecting to other who will see you and accept you by who you are and how are presenting yourself to the world. By finding that we are not that different even within our own diverse community.
How do you educate people about the LGBTQ community?
By sharing our experiences, by letting other communities how the sucessses and struggles are or might not be too different from theirs. By showing the beauty and love that our community has to offer. By showing other communities all the great things we can share and do together, by sharing our diverse communities within our communities and how they exist, by participating in groups, educations, virtual resources and online resources, by writing and sharing our stories.
How do you educate people about intersectionality in the LGBTQ communities?
By sharing experiences and stories with people. By highlighting how our LGBTQ community or communities is made of diverse and complex and rich layers and segments that are all different but inter-related within and within each other. By sharing stories what talked about health, gender, gender expression, LGBTQ immigration stories and other cultures, coming out, acceptance, etc and to show how all of these crossroads are interrelated and how they all cross each other in different ways.
What resources do you recommend for LGBTQ youth who have questions?
There are variety of online resources widely available to see
Gay City has also the largest LGBTQ LIBRARY in the Pacific Northwest with more that 7000 books, many on sexuality, coming out, youth, etc
What do you think your life was going to be like after high school?
Very good question. Hard to answer. I knew I wanted to help and assist others, how I was not sure then, I wanted to be a teacher, a social science teacher, I knew I wanted to make a connection with my mother and make her proud, as we all do, and be a good person, I also knew that my life was going to take to different cultures and languages and travel or migrate, then it happened when I travel to another country like USA.
What tips do you have for people questioning their gender identity?
Very important question. I would say ask questions to others, reach other to family or friends, or groups. Join a social media support group, reach out to a school support group if available, find people who are going thru the same and find support and comfort and feeling you are not alone or the only one. Find comfort in knowing in discovering the beauty of you gender in whatever way, shape or form you choose to express it and smile at every step of the way as you embracing and discovering who you are. Gender identity is very fluid as sexual identity is as well, so finding support is very important.
What tips would you give to people questioning their sexual orientation?
Similar to my answer for question 7, let’s remember together that gender and sexuality are very fluid, transparent, I usually compare to a “Constant flowing moving rivers” that can change, stay or move directions during its journey. Know that what you are, what we experienced and feel is ok, it is part of who you are, who you are becoming and will be, keep a open heart and mind and acceptance of it. It is ok to feel whatever is the feeling is, and keep discovering the sexual identity and sexual orientation your body and spirit are feeling with open arms and a good smile.
How do you stay resilience in the face of negativity and stereotyping?
A very important question for sure, particularly in present times. Being strong and facing obstacles with uplifting positive moving forward attitude is all familiar to our LGBTQ communities everywhere. Breaking stereotypes and confronting negative attitudes or negativities can be broken by sharing our stories, by sharing what bond and unite us instead of what divide us. By looking at the things we shared and have in common as people, that your identity, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, immigration or citizenship status does not make you different or less than others.
What is your favorite piece of LGBTQ representation?
DIVERSITY, strong DIVERSITY. Also love the different layers and communities within our community, so many, so many color and incredible amazing beauty. Love the expression in so many different forms and shapes that comes from our communities, whether is art, support, and bonding.
What are the hopes for the future of the LGBTQ community?
My hopes are many, that we continue to feel strong, resilient, find common ground once and once more again and again. That our generations inspire future generations to be the leaders they want to be, that the efforts and common struggles today can make future LGBTQ generations stronger and more resilient than before.
Is there any advice you would give to LGBTQ teens today?
Youth of today continue to be strong, resilient, and have NO FEAR in fighting for what you believe are your rights, your happiness, you are the ones building the bridges and happiness for the youth coming after you.