Andre Davancens| The Poly Post

CPP Pride Center and queer visibility

By Andre Davancens, Feb. 28, 2023

To foster a more supportive Cal Poly Pomona community, the Pride Center provides a safe zone and LGBTQ ally training for anyone looking to learn more about themselves, those around them and how to be an ally for all. 

Unlike trainings that students and staff alike are used to, ally training is not mandatory and not online. The Pride Center simply provides a space for learning and growth, stressing that the most important thing is trying. 

“Our students are coming from all different walks of life and have all these different life experiences,” said Identity Development and Education Coordinator, Joshua Salazar. “It’s not up to us to decide who matters, but rather how can we support them.” 

With the new wave of queer erasure, censorship and anti-queer policy and rhetoric that has been circulating legislatures across the country since 2022, the ally training provided by the Pride Center is more important than ever. The trainings not only demystify the language used to discover queer life but they provide insight into systemic issues and the importance of being an ally. 

“I think that a lot of students, staff and faculty are willing and able to learn,” said Vex Aubreii, a gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies student and pride center assistant. “It can be very daunting because there’s so much information out there and it’s constantly changing. The people here make it a really humanistic experience, and to be able to interact makes it more real; sometimes reading things online feels very disconnected.” 

Through a combination of a more traditional lecture style training, pronoun use activities and an open forum the Pride Center hopes to create a safe space where learning is encouraged. Queer visibility was a recurring theme stressed by Pride Center staff. 

“Coming out is personal, and we have to respect those who live in stealth, are still in the closet or are just not publicly out,” Salazar said. “I encourage folks, especially those in positions of power and leadership to be visible and be that representation for our students. Representation matters, just being able to see somebody that looks like you, sounds like you, comes from similar walks of life can really do things for your morale and self-esteem.” 

Andre Davancens | The Poly Post

Queer visibility is not reserved for members of the LGBTQ community, it is a process that allies can take part in, by simply presenting yourself as an ally and being considerate of others by introducing yourself with pronouns can make spaces feel safer and slowly normalize non-binary pronoun use. 

“I’ve been to a few of these trainings ever since I first started here in 2017 and each time I learned something new,” said Brittni Guerrero, an evaluator at the admissions office. “I think its very important to be an ally, especially considering all the bills that are being introduced all over the country. Things are getting progressively worse very quickly in certain places where there’s no protections. Its more important than ever to keep having these conversations and discussions.” 

At its core, the Pride Center creates a safe space for queer folks all over a campus that isn’t necessarily a safe space for students. 

“Physically safety wise, I guess the campus is OK,” said Aled Aguilar, a sociology student and Pride Center social justice leader. “If you ask a lot of the students that come to our center a lot, they’re not comfortable being around other areas.” 

There is currently a lack of accessibility across the campus, with a low quantity of gender neutral bathrooms and non-gendered spaces it can be difficult for students to comfortably get through a normal day. Gender inclusive restrooms can be found on the Cal Poly Pomona map, however there are still major dead zones such as The Collins College and the College of Engineering. 

Aside from providing training opportunities, the Pride Center hosts other forums and pride themed events open to all. Pride Center staff advocates for the creation of gender affirming spaces across campus so that students can feel safe and comfortable across the school. 

The next safe zone LGBTQ ally training is scheduled for March 20 in the Student Services Building. Pride Center events can be found on mybar. 

Feature image by Andre Davancens

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