Published: June 2, 2022 By

Davey Aguiar, Coordinator of BOLD Programs & Student Engagement in The BOLD Center reflects on what 'Pride' means to them, the need to remember and honor previous generations of LGBTQ+ people for their sacrifices and contributions, and how embracing their femininity has brought healing and liberation.

What is your role at CU Boulder? 

Coordinator of BOLD Programs & Student Engagement in the BOLD Center! In addition to coordinating programs for students, I oversee BOLD's 8 affinity-based, professional engineering societies in areas of leadership, programming and budgeting. I also oversee the Peer Mentor program that assists in the transition of first-year students into CEAS.

What does pride mean to you?

My definition has changed over the years the more I've taken time to explore, self-reflect and decolonize my view on gender and sexual identity, especially as it relates to me, personally. This year, Pride means that we as LGBTQ+ people don't need to be accepted or tolerated by cishet (cisgender and heterosexual) people to feel validated about who we are. When I came 'out' in high school, I spent time trying to figure out how to ensure my parents/family, my cishet friends and even strangers felt comfortable being around a Queer person. Looking back, I realize it was a defense mechanism that I was using for safety that ended up harming me.

While I was spending time prioritizing their comfort, my mental health and self-esteem were declining because I was shaming my femininity, my sexual identity and gender without even realizing it. Once I learned to stop seeking acceptance and tolerance from my oppressors, that's when I really started to see my growth and self-love flourish. It was liberating. I learned that seeking acceptance and tolerance for simply existing was dehumanizing and I didn't deserve that. Nobody deserves to feel that way about themselves. That's why we celebrate 'Pride'. It's to celebrate those who don't fit in a particular box and are not afraid to draw outside the lines.

What would you say to other folks celebrating pride with you?

First and foremost, we need to honor the older generations of LGBTQ+ people who helped pave the road for us through their emotional, physical and mental sacrifices and contributions. Most of the time, those ​sacrifices (both willingly and unwillingly) cost the lives of beautiful Queer people who died at the hands of homophobia, transphobia, racism, imperialism/colonialism, domestic violence and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

We lost engineers, educators, artists, friends, family and significant others at the hands of ignorance and fear -- two dangerous tools that have been controlled by our oppressors, especially those in political power. So, although we should celebrate all facets of our identity and community, let's never forget those who have passed, especially the thousands of QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans Black, Indigenous, People of Color) we lost to domestic violence, white supremacy and colonization.

Which of your identities would you like to take a moment and celebrate, both in the context of pride and beyond? What do they mean to you?

I have an enormous amount of love and care for my femininity. Growing up, I was a flamboyant and energetic child who felt their emotions deeply, which was often ridiculed and questioned in my patriarchal and immigrant household. I was also ostracized by my peers from middle school to high school and was called 'gay' for most of my life because of it. Unfortunately, in the context of Western society, femininity is often ridiculed under a patriarchal system because there are stereotypical traits that are, unfairly and inaccurately, tied directly to women, which is then correlated with weakness. That's why we see such similar stereotypes and discriminatory treatment directed towards LGBTQ+ people. 

However, as I grew older, I noticed that my environment gravitated towards powerful and confident womxn who were identified as matriarchs, friends, supervisors and mentors to me. Instead of being taught to shame my emotions and femininity, I was met with affirmations, unconditional love and empowerment. At first, it was scary letting myself become that vulnerable, but as I embraced it, I also felt myself healing. Fast forward to present time, my femininity is now a superpower I use within my praxis as an educator and as a person. I cherish it and I cannot express how grateful I am for those womxn who helped me to become the person I am today.