Delano resident shares her self-discovery journey, reveals the importance of visibility

June 27, 2022 /

With June being pride month, Delano resident Alessandra Hernando said she is happy to celebrate because it’s one of the rare times she can showcase her pride.

“June is an important month for me as a bisexual woman. I was in denial for about four years until my junior year when I finally felt comfortable under my skin to identify as bisexual. Of course, others have it harder such as transgender people or gays/lesbians, said Hernando. “But that is what this month is about, it’s a unifying month where we all celebrate our pride and struggle together through the hardships against a heteronormative society. I can’t come out to my parents, and the future of doing so seems uncertain. However, just showing my support to those who celebrate it during that time is a small way of me ‘coming out.’”

Hernando said it’s important to celebrate pride month because everyone must work with their friends, family, and neighbors on the advocacy of equal rights. Celebrating pride month is a way of continuing to fight for not just tolerance, but acceptance for who everyone is.

“Visibility is everything, so showing your support to love whoever you want regardless of sex or gender is important. Celebrating pride month is a reminder we still have a long way to go,” said Hernando. “It was only seven years ago that gay marriage became legalized. While there’s a wider acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, many don’t realize there are still states that can fire you for your sexual orientation or gender identity. Just a few months ago, I faced micro-aggressive comments from my teacher because my sexual orientation is a ‘lifestyle.’”

Hernando said education in the LGBTQ+ community is very important for the movement. Education is a transformative power against homophobia, transphobia, cissexism, and advocating for more inclusive spaces.

“It offers resources for trauma healing and health care that queer people may not have known. For the movement to keep on continuing, we must understand queer people’s experiences and learn about our history and collective power,” said Hernando. “During sophomore year, my friends often perceived me to be eccentric because of my sexual orientation. That is why educating people is important because I no longer want to tolerate being perceived as strange for my own identity.”

She educates people on this matter by having one-on-one conversations with them and helping spread information about it on social media. 

“I would tell someone struggling to talk openly about this that it’s normal to feel conflicted and confused. Unfortunately, you typically grow up under the mindset that you’re straight. So, it’s difficult to handle conflicts within your identity. Just take your time with this situation. Take time to understand yourself and what you may identify as potentially,” said Hernando.

She said what helped her get through her struggles was gaining friends who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community and who were by her side struggling through the same thing. She said it is essential to create your own safe space with people who understand your situation.

“I had to journey through this path of self-discovery on my own which was difficult. I had to face remarks from my peers because of my broken English by myself, and I struggled alone learning about various sexual orientations and openly talking about it. Therefore, I wanted to share my story here to show that your struggles are not unique,” said Hernando.

Hernando said using the correct pronouns is important when implementing someone’s gender identity.

“I identify as a girl so I feel more comfortable when people use she/her pronouns with me. To me, learning someone’s pronouns is just like learning someone’s name. You just got to learn what their pronouns are and use them correctly. Of course, people may use it wrong initially, but it’s a learning experience,” said Hernando.

This month, the Delano LGBTQ Alliance successfully had the pride flag flown at Delano City Hall for the second year in a row.

“This is great because it’s a sign of progression for acceptance in my town. It’s also meaning acknowledgment that we, queer people, exist and no longer allow silencing of our voices. The flag flowing means a lot to me because I can live in Delano feeling welcome for who I am,” said Hernando.

Over the weekend,  the Delano LGBTQ Alliance and Loud for Tomorrow hosted the first drag show in Delano with appearances of Storm McQueen, Priscilla Mcnamara, and Trance Former. 

“The turnout for the drag show was amazing. The community showed an overwhelming amount of support. People of all ages and identities came together and expressed how much fun they had and how great it was to see events like this in Delano,” said Hernando.

Hernando said the organization needs to continue holding events such as these during June because its message as a youth-led group is to lead young people from diverse backgrounds to improve the future of the community in Central Valley. 

“We must hold pride events to create an inclusive space to live by our message. Bias and discrimination have no place in our movement, and we must fight together with everyone from various backgrounds,” said Hernando.