2023 Winner of the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize

Andres Valenzuela

Andres Valenzuela '23

Queer Identity Development among Latine Students in Higher Education: A Comparative Study of Amherst College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Department of Anthropology and Sociology Honors Thesis

Abstract: As an intersectional group, Queer and Trans Latines face unique issues because of their identities as insiders and outsiders to their communities. While they are Latine, being Queer positions them outside of cishet normative expectations of Latine culture. While they are Queer, their racialized Latine identities put them in contrast to white Queerness that dominates Queer spaces. At the same time, more Latines are attending institutions of higher education; thus a new type of Latinidad is forming thanks to new experiences in undergraduate education. Because of this, it is important to develop an understanding of how different institutional climates affect Queer Latine’s sense of identity. Looking at Amherst, an elite, historically white institution, Queer Latines are impacted by the campus climate because of racial disparities in who gets to be a part of Amherst and the work that comes with making space for yourself. At John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Queer Latines, because they are part of the majority, have an easier time feeling like they fit in and do not have to go through the trouble of making space for themselves. These two experiences impact Queer Latines differently and result in different understandings of their Queer identities but are both Queer Latine experiences nonetheless. Understanding these issues as intersectional reveals how Queer Latines develop a sense of navigation at their institutions especially when dealing with white, cishet normativity.