by Nicole Chávez (Staff Writer)
On Wednesday the 7th, students gathering in the kitchen of La Casa were greeted by the thick smell of spiced Abuelita hot chocolate, Shakira on blast, and light, sugary pan dulce. De Colores, an affinity student group for queer Latinx students on campus, was hosting its first meeting after a two-year hiatus.
Both in and outside of the Yale community, people note the university’s reputation as the “Gay Ivy.” With this reputation, however, comes the omission of many of the intersection of the queer community with other marginalized or non-Western identities, including Latinidad. De Colores is geared towards the needs of this demographic.
De Colores strives to recognize the nuances and intersections of identity, spotlighting issues such as the maltreatment of trans Latinx women, machismo, the complexities of Spanish as a gendered language, and coming out. Additionally, De Colores will serve as a space to build and celebrate community. At some point this semester, they are hoping to create a space so that students can commemorate the dead from the Orlando massacre of this past summer, when a gunman opened fire on partygoers at the gay nightclub Pulse on Latino night. This calamity must be understood in the context of violence against intersectional LGBTQ+ Latinx identities, which manifests differently than threats to white queerness or heteronormative Latinidad.
De Colores is by no means a new organization. Nicolás Aramayo ’17, a Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality major, joined the group during their freshman year at Yale. Back then, recalls Aramayo, De Colores was a “group of upperclassmen hanging out, socializing, and talking about things centered around queerness and Latinidad.” Once the upperclassman cohort graduated, membership quickly declined. De Colores became defunct.
As La Casa builds upon its reputation as a queer-friendly space, a central question raised Wednesday night was: “Outside [the existing structure] of La Casa, is there a need for this other [queer] group?” For Aramayo, the answer is a resounding yes.
“La Casa is very queer-friendly, but it is a passively queer space,” they said. There are few active and organized discussions at La Casa that concern queer Latinidad, offering critical perspectives on heteronormativity, misogyny, and gender norms as they appear in Latino culture. “Once we leave Yale, La Casa, [or] whatever safe and comfortable space we are currently inhabiting, we are still going to be navigating the world as queer Latinx people,” they stressed.
With this in mind, last spring Aramayo gathered together a cohort of students including Jesús Ayala ’19, Steph Toyofuku MacLean ’18, and several other students to revive De Colores.
In this space, students will not feel as though “their identity has been split,” affirmed Aramayo. They will feel Latinx and queer, full in grief and love.