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Poster Campaign Celebrates LGBTQA Community

By Eric Breier

For at least one Cal State San Marcos student, the Beyond the Stereotype campaign wasn’t just about fostering conversations among the campus community. It was also an opportunity for personal reflection.

“I’m questioning some things, and that’s OK,” said Fernanda, a third-year CSUSM student who is one of 10 people featured in this year’s campaign. Fernanda’s last name is not being used because the campaign intentionally omits surnames.

“I’m not so anxious about being in a questioning type of stage because I’ve experienced it before with other identities,” she added.

The Beyond the Stereotype campaign aims to educate about the impact of microaggressions and stereotypes on marginalized communities.

“College campuses should be having these conversations,” said Ariel Stevenson, diversity coordinator in the Office of Inclusive Excellence and one of the organizers of the campaign. “We should be taking the lead and be at the forefront. These are our students, faculty and staff, and they reflect our population. That’s one of the things I love about the campaign – it’s a mirror of our campus population. Diversity matters.”

The first campaign, launched in 2015, featured posters of CSUSM students tearing photos of various racial and ethnic costume stereotypes with the text, “There is more to me than what you see. Beyond the stereotype, there is history.”

This year’s campaign focuses on the LGBTQA community. Each poster includes the text, “There is more to me than what you see. Beyond the stereotype, there is pride.”

“There was a lot of intentionality in how we portrayed folks in the posters,” said Abrahán Monzón, assistant director of ASI community centers and one of the organizers of the campaign.

While the first campaign focused solely on students, this one includes faculty and staff.

“I wanted to be a part of the campaign, as I feel that as educators we are in a position to not just shape young minds with subject knowledge, but also to empower them to break self- or society-imposed barriers to their success,” said Arun Sethuraman, an assistant professor of biology who, as a faculty member, agreed to include his last name in the story. “A first step toward this is to provide the resources for our University community to develop an understanding of diverse peoples, to build an inclusive society within CSUSM.

“As part of these efforts, the Beyond the Stereotype series has been a powerful and successful means to convey the message of cultural tolerance and emotional intelligence through strategically placed visuals and true stories. As a proud gay person of color, an immigrant, a scientist, mentor and teacher, this particular series was especially close to my heart, and I wanted my story to be told – that there is more to a person than the color of their skin, their nation of origin or their sexual identity or orientation.”

Seven of the 10 campaign posters were unveiled at the All Peoples Luncheon in October. All of the posters will be on display in the University Student Union before the end of the year. The campaign includes additional curriculum, resources and workshops. There will be a website with curriculum to complement the campaign spring programming in the Gender Equity Center and Pride Centers.

Fernanda’s poster was among the seven unveiled at the All Peoples Luncheon and seeing it brought additional reflection. As she looked over the identities she had listed, she realized that she didn’t include child of immigrants.

“It makes me wonder and pause to think, ‘Why didn’t I include that?’ ” she said.

On Fernanda’s poster, she included “Chicanx, person of color, feminist, advocate, first-generation college student.” She originally had additional identities included, but changed her mind as participating in the campaign led to additional introspection.

“I think before I publicize it, let me take it in and process it myself,” she said.

After seeing the success of the first Beyond the Stereotype campaign, Fernanda was inspired to participate in this second iteration. She is hoping this year’s campaign provides similar inspiration to others.

“Hopefully it encourages and drives a desire to learn what the campaign is about,” she said. “If students recognize participants, hopefully they’ll ask questions about how we got involved with it. I hope it leads to more discussion.”