Student-Run Magazine Creates Cultural Competence on Campus
By: Veronica Pistek
An LGBTQI Leader, a member of the CUNY LGBTQ Advisory Board, a David Project Intern, a Student Government Commissioner student at large, and now the founder of CSI’s upcoming LGBTQ+ Publication, Val Ramos has his plate full as a second semester freshman at CSI.
Entering the room wearing a shirt embroidered with a rainbow-colored word “extra” paired with the perfect combination of pride pants, Val exudes energy, positivity, and ambition with each movement.
As the LGBTQ leader sat down to discuss his upcoming student publication, QUEER-Zine, Ramos explained his personal history with representation at the College of Staten Island:
“When I first came to campus, I did not see representation of the LGBTQ community. I finally felt that safe haven once I found the resource center. When I leave that office, that safety net feels like it is gone.”
This seems to be a familiar experience for many LGBTQ community members on campus. Once they go beyond the realm of their safe zone, the fear of dropping out or transferring schools as a result of an unsafe environment becomes a reality.
By bringing awareness to all students, faculty, and staff, Ramos hopes to educate the entire campus about the LGBTQ+ community with QUEER-Zine to create a more comfortable place for all students.
While visiting the Gay and Lesbian Museum in New York City, Ramos had an epiphany. As the museum tour guide asked everyone to create a zine, or an underground magazine that popularized the queer movement in the 1980s, the visionary felt inspired to replicate this idea for a publication here at CSI.
Now this zine is not going to be your average fashion or news magazine-QUEER-Zine is anticipated to include student’s personal coming out stories, photography and art from queer students, poetry, prose, as well as health and wellness information.
With a diverse array of topics and ideas, this magazine will speak from various perspectives within the community and appeal to all different groups. Students who are passionate about creative writing or art, as well as those who desire to share a narrative will have the opportunity to broadcast their voice.
Primarily, Ramos intends on being inclusive. This magazine will have its own section dedicated especially to those students who are international and struggle with being accepted by their families.
Not only will students be able to express their culture’s struggle for acceptance of their identity here on campus, but the future writers will also highlight the prevalence of this issue around the world.
A global idea, Ramos also is dedicated to put every single flag of the LGBTQ community along with its definition, what it means, and who it is for on the back page of each issue.
This way, students can pick up any given issue of QUEER-Zine and educate themselves about the different identities that make up the LGBTQ community.
Expect collaborations from this new publication. With the presence of the Gay Straight Alliance on campus, this magazine will take part in the GSA Second Prom, which will be a spring event for queer students who could not bring their same sex partner to their senior prom.
QUEER-Zine will also pair up with a health specialist on campus. In order to properly discuss safe sex and prep and pep, this specialist will provide tips and information about how to engage in healthy and protected sex.
Along with staying informed about HIV infections, the zine intends on creating acceptance amongst the members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“For instance, if you are HIV+, some people even within our community will neglect to build a relationship with you. Also, it is often that gays or lesbians will not accept and even talk to people who are bisexual,” Ramos explains.
With contention already existing amongst the people within the LGBTQ+ community, Ramos explains how everyone should learn to understand and welcome one another:
“Ultimately, we all strive to be accepted by everyone, but we need to become open to our fellow LGBTQ+ members and accept them first.”
Overall, the upcoming publication strives to bring awareness of resources to students who are unaware of CSI’s resource center, enable students to feel open about expressing their identity, and educate the entire campus about a community to understand and respect anyone they meet.
“My goal is for QUEER-Zine to bring attention, acknowledgement, education, and health awareness. I want everyone to spread love and not hate. So, just don’t read it, but be a part of it,” The young LGBTQ leader expresses as his main focus for this new project.
QUEER-Zine is expected to have its first meetings and releases during the spring semester.