Queer People of Color, a gathering group for the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community at Iowa State, gave a presentation  and hosted a student panel at this year's ISU Conference on Race and Ethnicity.

Queer People of Color seeks to address the issues of intersections of identity and is one of four gathering groups for the LGBT community at Iowa State. It joins Gay/Bi Men’s Group, Lez-Bi-Real-Queer and Fluidity. 

Students told their personal stories of coming out, coming to Iowa State and becoming involved in the LGBT community and Queer People of Color during the student panel.

Malcolm Hines, sophomore in global resource systems, thought the presentation was great and enjoyed when the students in Queer People of Color gave their viewpoints on the issues that face LGBT students of color.

“I advise anyone to be open to it,” said Hines.  Hines is not a part of Queer People of Color because of prior commitments, but said he would be “very involved in it” if he were not otherwise busy. 

Ana Ramos Gonzalez, graduate student in education, said Queer People of Color and other gathering groups' main focus is to help students explore their identities as they come into the LGBT community at Iowa State. Queer People of Color also deals with the other identities that students have, such as ethnic identities. 

Queer People of Color’s main goal is to build a community for students of color who identify as queer.

Thomas Arce, graduate student in education, said gathering groups differ from the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Ally Alliance.  LGBTAA is a student organization, and Arce said he sees it as more for students who have gone through the coming out process and are “really flourishing within the university community.”

The difference between the Alliance and gathering groups, Arce said, is more of a way to navigate what going through the coming-out process means. 

“The gathering groups are a way of support or building community within a specific group, as we have four gathering groups,” Arce said. 

Gonzalez continued that the gathering groups are more private, while student organizations like the Alliance are more public.  Gathering groups can help students who are not yet ready get out into the community and desire one-on-one interaction to transition to the next step.

Queer People of Color has had struggles; they were inactive for a year after the fall 2011 semester ended, but there was an interest in fall 2012 that brought it back.

Students do not necessarily stay in Queer People of Color; they may change what they choose to be involved in throughout their time at Iowa State.  Facilitators, who are graduate students and only have a limited time at Iowa State, run Queer People of Color. 

Racial identities can prevent students who are queer from joining the LGBT community, making it a challenge for Queer People of Color to get members at times.

Queer People of Color uses the model of multiple dimensions of identity to address the issues of being an LGBT student of color.  The model is structured like an atom, with who you are at the center and the your identities all around you.  The identity that is closer to you differs for every person. 

“For me, my ethnicity is very salient to my core; it makes a bigger impact on how I interact with people” Gonzalez said. Arce said his sexuality identifies more to his core than his ethnicity. 

The facilitators use this model to figure out what is the closest identity to the students they are working with so they can best help them.

Meetings for Queer People of Color are from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays in the LeBaron Hall lounge.

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