Photo by Megan Bender.

Q-Fest celebrates queer and trans people of color in the arts

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Humboldt State senior Jonathan Salinas is no stranger to discrimination in this community. Salinas was even told once to move out of Humboldt by a community member. Though moments like this dishearten Salinas, helping organize events like Q-Fest inspires him.

“It lights the fire in me again,” events director for the Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource Center Salinas said.

Students of the Eric Rofes Center and the Multicultural Center organized Q-Fest at Humboldt State University from April 16-20. This year’s celebration focused on queer and trans people of color in the visual and performing arts.

“Because of a lot of the tension that’s been going on in the community around issues of race, we wanted to focus on people of color,” Salinas said.

Q-Fest started out nine years ago as a queer film festival. It has now expanded into a series of events including a film showing of “Pick Up the Mic,” workshops with Arisa White, a QTPOC panel, QTPOC self-care and zine making workshop, a student showcase and more.

Eric Rofes Center fiscal director, Neesh Wells, became involved in Q-Fest for the first time this year. Wells said they wanted to expand to include queer artists and students this year, because there is not always a lot of respect paid to them.

Wells helped organized the self-care and zine making workshops as a space for queer folks to help develop their words and identities.

“A lot of our allies don’t acknowledge that there are many facets of our identity,” Wells said.

Wells defined self-care as “providing the time for one’s self and engaging in activities that help prevent exhaustion,” and said it can be as simple as checking in with yourself, making sure you eat and drink enough water.

Wells finds creating spaces like this to be especially important, not only at Humboldt State, but in the community as a whole where there aren’t as many resources for queer folks and people of color as there are in big cities.

Photo by Megan Bender.

“The biggest difference for me, being in Humboldt, is a lot of the spaces have been spaces I’ve had to make on my own. It can be very difficult. There’s not only a lack of resources, but a lack of funding,” Wells said. “I don’t feel compelled to seek out a community outside of HSU and I think that’s very telling.”

Wells is not the only person who feels there is a lack of resources for queer folks in the community. The Eric Rofes Center and Q-Fest aim to provide that needed support.

“We just want to put out resources for students who feel like they don’t have anything,” volunteer and resources director for ERC Belen Flores said. “We don’t want them to be scared. We want to show them that it’s going to be ok and that we’re here to help.”

Flores contacted this year’s keynote speaker for Q-Fest, poet and writer Arisa White. White and fellow poet Europa Grace hosted a workshop on Thursday afternoon and a poetry reading and talk on Thursday night.

Q-Fest ended with the student showcase, a gallery and performance featuring work by queer artists. The event included tables with queer literature, information on safe sex and an array of student art.

Luciano Duran, a 23-year-old HSU art major, displayed portrait photographs and an original zine.

“[It’s] to address the theme of being gay and coming out and owning your identity,” Duran said. “Art is a coping mechanism for a lot of us.”

Salinas was please with the turnout of Q-Fest, which increased since last year. Salinas said it is the hard work and passion of the students that make events like this possible.

“These are some of the most dedicated students you will ever see,” Salinas said. “Fuck administrators. Because they’re not going to do it. So we’re going to do it.”

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