By Billy Huang and Marvin Villanueva, May 2, 2023
Cal Poly Pomona’s sociology Professor Anthony Ocampo published his latest book, “Brown and Gay in LA: The Lives of Immigrant Sons,” and hosted an in-depth conversational panel April 26.
Published in September 2022, the book centers on some of Ocampo’s personal accounts as a queer child of immigrants, along with interviews of others who shared similar experiences and backgrounds in the Los Angeles County region.
In a collaboration with the Centers of Transformation, Retention, Equity and Empowerment Director, Rigoberto Marquez, Ocampo answered various questions from the audience and tackled different issues and topics within the queer community, such as navigating white queer spaces as a person of color, facing homophobia within one’s own family and the night club scenes in which he felt the most himself.
“It felt like Monday through Thursday, I cannot breathe because who I am is being suffocated and suppressed and potentially going to get me punished in some way,” Ocampo said.
Ocampo asked the students to imagine living in a familial space , yet seems to be where one feels the most unsafe.
He explained places like the Pride Center where he studied and queer night clubs were some of the only places he could truly be himself without the worries of judgment from a heteronormative society.
Pride Center Social Justice Leader, Erin Masters, felt Ocampo has set an example for future generations to come out and share their own experiences.
“I think my main take away right now is that there is resistance to be found in queer joy and it’s important to create and demand those spaces, especially for queer people of color,” Masters said, “I think like Dr. Ocampo said, when you see someone’s story that you resonate with or someone’s story that you don’t resonate with, it can inspire you to tell your own.”
The concept of “Queer Joy” speaks on the ways the LGBTQIA+ community find and create these safe spaces that positively correlates with feelings of happiness and signs of progress in their sexual and gender identity.
Similarly, César E. Chávez Center for Higher Education Social Justice Leader Jules Barbosa also believes the idea of finding joy within one’s own queerness and being able to unapologetically celebrate the part of themselves that have been hidden for far too long can inspire many future generations of queer people to do the same.
“‘Brown and gay in LA’ quite describes my life,” Barbosa said. “It’s not just white males anymore, it’s people that look like us, people that are gay like us and people that talk like us. And that is definitely the major steppingstone in moving forward as an entire generation that will be accepting of gay people, especially in Los Angeles.”
During Ocampo and Marquez’s conversation, they mentioned instances of “queer bombing,” which details the act of queer people rallying to take over traditionally hetero-male dominated spaces such as sport bars, games and car meets.
“Queer bombing will definitely cause some ruckus, but that’s what we do,” Barbosa said. “Being gay we’re disruptive, we are evolutionary, we are revolutionary and I really think that’s important.”
Throughout his talk, Ocampo was able to create an emotional and inspiring atmosphere for many of the audience members who might not feel comfortable and are afraid to share their story. He hopes through setting an example of sharing other queer people’s stories, many can be inspired to tell their own.
“I want everyone in here to start being fearless about sharing your story,” Ocampo said. “Despite the fact that you were never taught that your stories were important, there might be someone in that room who has been very afraid to talk about who they are and you telling your story might be the key to help them unlock that fear so that they can be more of themselves in a space where they felt like they didn’t belong.”
For more information on all things LGBTQIA+, visit the Pride Center’s webpage on CPP’s website. To get a copy of “Brown and Gay in LA: The Lives of Immigrant Sons,” visit Ocampo’s website.
Feature image courtesy of Billy Huang
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