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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Finding Comunidad: Latino Gay/Queer Students' Co-Curricular Experiences of Empowerment and Marginality at a Public University

  • Author(s): Valenzuela, Marco Antonio
  • Advisor(s): Rhoads, Robert
  • et al.
Abstract

This qualitative study focused on finding the strategies that Latino gay/queer students used to help them navigate the intersection of their marginalized identities during college. The counter stories of 15 participants offered profound, intimate experiences that provided answers to how Latino gay/queer students managed their intersectionality on campus. Latino gay/queer students faced different types of marginalization that included microaggressions and stereotypes, homophobia and heteronormativity, not feeling Latinx enough, and some campus spaces being “too White.” Key findings indicated that co-curricular activities empowered Latino gay/queer students to manage these challenges by finding comunidad, self-policing, creating counter-spaces, engaging in activism, and using microaffirmations. Another key finding highlighted how Latino gay/queer students became more self-aware of their intersectional identities through involvement in co-curricular activities. The counter stories of participants in this study allowed for a deeper understanding of how co-curricular activities supported and empowered Latino gay/queer students. These counter stories were analyzed through the theoretical frameworks of intersectionality, the reconceptualized model of multiple dimensions of identity, and disidentification. Their collective counter stories challenge the dominant narrative and inform higher education institutions about the impact of co-curricular activities.

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