Q&A: Raymond CangKimVo on the Queer, Transgender People of Color conference

Sunday, March 8, 2020

First-year student Raymond CangKimVo is a program assistant at LGBT Student Services.

Q&A: Raymond CangKimVo on the Queer, Transgender People of Color Conference
By Raven Yamamoto

Last weekend, a cohort of LMU students attended the fifteenth annual Queer, Transgender People of Color (QTPOC) Conference hosted at the University of California Riverside (UCR). Students and staff from around the country flew into Los Angeles to be in community with other queer trans people of color and engage in conversations about racism in LGBTQ+ spaces. 

The two-day event included several workshops and keynote speeches by prominent transgender activists including actress Angelica Ross of FX’s Pose, filmmaker Jade Phoenix Martinez and Bamby Salcedo, president of the TransLatin@ Coalition.

The Agency sat down with first-year student Raymond CangKimVo who coordinated the trip to talk more about his motivation to bring LMU students to the conference and what it means to be a queer, transgender person of color.  

Raven Yamamoto (RY): How did you hear about the QTPOC Conference?

Raymond CangKimVo (RC): My boss, Lalo Moreno. I’m a program assistant at the LGBT Student Services office on campus and they had some flyers. I think this was right after the queer Alternative Breaks trip, which was a two-day trip where we went with seven different people around L.A. to different queer places, so I was on a high. I wanted to get a group together to go to the conference because the one thing I got out of that AB trip was that white gays dominate queer communities and [that] there was no major solidarity for queer trans people of color [at LMU]. It definitely is a conversation that is so near and dear to my heart that I wanted to [attend] the conference with a group.

RY: What kind of space does the QTPOC conference provide?

RC: It’s a space where the foundation is built on acceptance. You, being a queer trans person of color, are completely seen and heard and given dignity which is just very rare in the first place unless you have other friends like that. Or you have to educate most white people. Once you have that foundation of acceptance, it’s really just a place for growth so you can have hard conversations about things like anti-blackness. We went to a session called “Decolonizing Coming Out” and that is not something you can really talk to white people [about] because they don’t get it as much as you, a person of color, gets it. You can talk about racism in a multi-faceted way and you can talk about how complex it is and how you, while also being one of the most underprivileged and marginalized people, also have a certain amount of privilege that you need to unpack.

RY: Is the conference exclusively for people of color or is it open to everyone?

RC: It’s for everybody. I think white people should go but the discussions need to be in a space for them. We’re not equals in the space because we’re not equals in the outside world. You as a white person should understand that you have a shit-ton of privilege and this is a radical space for queer trans people of color to grow and for you to listen and take what you will from it.

RY: You said radical space. What do you mean by that?

RC: Queer spaces, in general, are not made for people of color. It’s very racially segregated if you look at West Hollywood. A queer space is already radical, but people of color and femme-aligned people are just not allowed in or they don’t feel safe there. It’s just radical because people of color aren’t allowed to exist in their own queerness and it’s just not a thing.

LMU's cohort of students posing for a funny photo over lunch at UC Riverside.
RY: What was something that you learned at the conference?

RC: I want to have a QTPOC Registered Student Organization (RSO) on campus because I didn’t know that other campuses had that. I just thought racism existed there. I think that feeling of empowerment where I saw so many people of color, so many people casually being like “Yeah, I use they/them pronouns,” that weren’t white in one room. We’re going to make that happen at LMU somehow.

I want to have a space where QTPOC can grow and feel loved and be able to have a space where they can explore their identities in a way that isn’t dangerous for them. Within microaggressions from white people, it’s never going to be 100% safe. It’s never going to be [100%] safe with other people of color as well but there is still a more level ground with them.

RY: What was one of your favorite parts of your experience going to the conference?

RC: Angelica Ross. She said a lot of things. The main thing I know her for is playing Candy in [FX’s] Pose. I only watched the first season but she came to speak for the first night of the conference and she said everything I’ve ever wanted to hear. Know yourself, know your boundaries, be authentic, don’t feel success solely through capital means. It was everything I ever wanted to hear. I think it’s so rare to hear underprivileged people talk about their privilege in such a nuanced way and it just always amazes me how resilient people can be when they shouldn’t have to be resilient but still are.

She was talking about how trans people know how to be authentic because before everyone else understands a trans person’s identity, they know without the tips and tricks of wearing really sexy makeup, they know who they are. I just felt really seen because it’s not hard for me as a trans person to feel authentic because I have always known my gender. It has been a process of learning who I am and how I relate to my gender, but I’ve always known that it wasn’t female or wasn’t specifically male.

RY: How can non-QTPOC be better allies and accomplices?

RC: Educate yourself. Don’t make QTPOC educate you about this. Pay us. It’s so much more than your individual actions, you need to be aware of the systemic oppression. Having privilege isn’t a bad thing if you understand it and all of its multifaceted ways and learn how to utilize it to open the door for other people of color and QTPOC to be able to tell their stories and to succeed in life. The system in a capitalist world wasn’t built for us to succeed so understand your privilege and don’t treat us like shit. And pay us.

Post a Comment