Dancing for a cause: MEChA event highlights social equality

J. Alfredo Santana

Several Latino students organized a dancing event last Thursday hoping to raise awareness about gay, lesbian and bisexuals efforts to achieve social equality and be accepted normally in their communities, at school and everywhere they feel face discrimination.

The event, titled “Come Out?and Dance,” was sponsored by CSUN’s Movimento Estudiantil Chicanos de Aztlan. (MEChA). It took place at the Chicana/o House and Cultural Arts Center on campus, and ran from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m. It drew about 40 students, some of whom munched at tamales worth $2 each. The funds were collected to support future MEChA events.

Marcos Zamora, chair of MEChA students, said the party was organized in lieu of the National Coming Out Date, which was founded in October 11, 1998 by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jay O’Leary. He said the event is the first MEChA students put together this year to raise awareness about issues concerning gays and lesbians on campus.

“We decided to have a dance tonight in solidarity with gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgender student community. These students still face a lot of problems because the sexual roles they play in our society,” Zamora said.

Alberto Perez, another MEChA student who helped to organize the dance, said October 11 marks an important date for all gay, lesbian and bisexual communities in the United States, and beyond its borders. Zamora said it’s a date many people use to advocate human rights and better laws for historically underserved and ignored communities.

Perez, 20, said these issues are very prevalent in Latino communities, where machismo and discrimination, even within the families of gays and lesbians, still run rampant.

“I think it’s wonderful an organization like MEChA, that has a history of promoting equality among Hispanics is able to work on these events. There is no secret among MEChA and Chicano communities that homophobic views against gays are alive. Our hope is that eventually the Chicano communities embrace Chicano homosexuals as they are,” Perez said.

“There is still a lot of work to get for the acceptance of gays and lesbians in their own ethnic communities,” said Lilia Tejeda, who plans to major in political science.

“From the Chicano perspective, not a lot of people like to make friends, or accept them as they are in Los Angeles,” Tejeda said.

Tejeda said she finds passion advocating Latino issues where she notices huge gaps of injustice and mistreatment of people because their sexual lifestyles.

Public events such as Thursday’s dance is one way to bridge distances between diverse student communities, Tejeda said.

While cumbia, reggaeton and Rock en Espa’ntilde;ol beats blared from two big speakers brought by a hired DJ, many students of diverse ethnic backgrounds danced and wore multicolored plastic neon devices.

The multicolored prism lights represent the international code of colors of gays and queers. Chalk triangles with pink and yellow colors were drawn atop the pathway that led to the cultural center.

Balloons, an Aztec Sun calendar and colorful spreads of papier-mach’eacute; adorned the dancing room.

The Human Rights Campaign handles the National Coming Out Project nationwide.

It offers resources to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexual (LGTB) individuals with families, those who have children, couples and friends and relatives who are interested in promoting awareness of LGTB families living open and honest lives.

MEChA’s next event will include the creation of a cultural shrine to celebrate Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) on November 2.

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