Being A Queer Chicana and What I Learned About Myself at My First Gay Pride
I wrote this blog before the shooting in Orlando and while the LGBTQ community is unfortunately familiar with acts of discrimination and violence this most recent atrocity brought back into my mind the importance of community. We are of all different backgrounds and while our sexuality may not define us, it does link us together and for this reason I am even more happy I volunteered at pride with The Keep A Breast Foundation. While the Orlando massacre initially made me afraid of going out to LGBT functions, I realized that staying in wasn’t the answer, the only thing that can over power hate is love, and while volunteering at Pride might not change the world it gives me a place to give love back to my community.
The morning of Long Beach Pride was filled with anxiety and anticipation.
There I was, a 20 year old, queer, chicana who had never been to pride. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I was going in with a life saving message and that was all that mattered. I questioned how The Keep A Breast message would be received, Pride is supposed to be a celebration and talking about a life threatening disease can be kind of a bummer.
Rainbow flags were everywhere while, tejano princess, Selena blared behind me. Once the gates were opened the crowds flooded in, every demographic you could think of began their day at pride. 20-something year old girls came up baffled at the fact that you could check your self, “I thought you had to go to the doctor to do that” one told me. Others knew that it was possible to check yourselves but struggled to remember to do it monthly, giving me the perfect opportunity to introduce our CHECK YOURSELF! App (available on IOS & Android). Men came by and were shocked to learn that they too are at risk for breast cancer, older women came to show respect for what we were doing and to show us their mastectomy scars. One man came up crying his thank you’s, after a second to calm down, he told me about how his mother died of breast cancer because it was found too late. Groups of young people stood baffled as they learned about the toxic ingredients in their day to day products and were inspired to check their labels. Families came to buy bracelets but ended up having a learning experience with their children. Everyone was able to take something away from the Keep A Breast message. My previous anxieties disappeared as I realized that the message of Keep A Breast isn’t a “bummer”, it’s empowering! I wasn’t just teaching people how to check themselves I was learning about my community and contributing to it in a way I never before imagined. Having never been to Pride before, I was shocked at the instant camaraderie I felt towards the people there. Despite being inside the traveling education booth them being on the other side of a table, I felt as if we were one big family or as if I was telling a close friend some important news.
Working with Keep A Breast at pride was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, it helped me find my place not just in the LGBTQ community but within myself. Breast cancer prevention is often marketed towards feminine cis women, which can be alienating to a large percentage of the queer community, but Keep A Breast isn’t just for the “fems”, our message touches everyone of all gender identities. From trans men to non binary people, everyone can get behind and be empowered by being their own health advocate.
After the two long days working the Traveling Education Booth, I thought back on all the weekends I spent goofing around and while that’s fun, it’s nice to feel like you’re making a difference even if it’s just one person at a time.
Alicia is a queer, vegan, Xicana living in Los Angeles, she enjoys dancing, painting, and long walks to the nearest coffee shop. If you don’t see her sippin’ on a cold brew you’ll probably catch her at the local park giving the death stare to people who are littering.