Each month there is a ‘Platica” or “talk” with and about interesting people and topics of Los Angeles at The Plaza de Cultura y Artes hosted by Xavier Mejia. I was invited to attend the panel discussion of “The Role of LGBTQIA Social Media Influencers in Today’s World.” I arrived early and sat in the front row.
Parking is expensive, but it’s convenient, and puts you smack in the middle of so much to do. On one side you have the famous historical Olvera Street, the El Pueblo Monument, Union Station, and the Old Plaza Firehouse, even China Town is in walking distance. So I grabbed two beef taquitos, then walked over to the Plaza de Cultura.
Xavier Mejia (@xaviermejiaofficial), founder of QTalk Radio is the host and moderator. Mejia is the perfect choice for this program. Three years ago the Plaza de Cultura made the decision that they wanted a place for the LGBTQIA community at the museum, and have established a solid place in their tenure. This was the museums first year of honoring Gay Pride Month.
Like so many topics in Los Angeles, the LGBTQIA and Pride Month are new or unknown territory for many. Judgement and ignorance need not apply here. Fear of the unknown is always blasted out of the water in the world of the arts. Skin color, sexual orientation or the size of your waistline are never in the forefront of intellectuals. Hence this type of evening.
As you walked onto the fourth floor you were met with the delight of the museum gift shop’s pop up for the event. In the event space, guests were welcomed with cafe con leche, and the most delicious Mexican wedding cookies.
Tonight’s panel of LGBTQIA of social media influencers were 5 very interesting people. During and after hearing them speak, I was left with their accomplishments on my mind, not their sexual orientation. I thought to myself, “never mind that they’re gay, these are movers and shakers!” But in the world we live in, America especially, we must have a label, a compartment, and an official day, month and a parade. What demographic doesn’t ?
The panel speakers were as follows: Dennis Pastorizo, Jose Richard Aviles, Cyn Gonzalez, Jose Resendez, and Diossa Femme. Each one is considered an influencer both on and off social media in the gay community. Xavier started the evening with a fascinating question. How do you identify? Thats a loaded question apparently. Queer, gay, trans, femme, what the hell? John Q public will need some time on this one. Little by little, incrementally, non gays will have to learn the lingo. Remember in the years past, we’ve all had to make some adjustments with reference.
Each panelist, brought something to the table. Cyn Gonzales (@cyndapoet), author and poet, born in El Salvador was raised in South LA. She is the author of “Suspendidos en el Tiempo,” or “Suspended in Time.” Listening to her speak was wonderful, as she exudes warmth and contentedness as to where she is in life. Her vision for the gay Salvadoran community is to be viewed in a positive light, as is the goal for so many others on this panel. She “started a movement with 30 followers” and now is being asked to share her motivation with other gay Salvadorans around the country. We need people like her in every aspect of life, gay, queer or straight.
Dennis Pastorizo (@dennispastorizo) looks like a movie star. No doubt he’s a freelance journalist and a nightly talk show host for “LATV” Latino Alternative Television, the “Zoo TV”, and “Mornings with Fousey.” His social media is glamorous with tons of red carpet events, shows he’s hosted, interviews given and taken alike. He began his career on a straight platform. Imagine what that might feel like wondering if you’d be accepted. Dennis was not only accepted but also beloved and continues to be a success in many platforms.
“It’s more than being gay” said Dennis in regards to hosting shows on a gay platform. “It’s about being prepared.” Dennis works behind the camera as well as a producer for “American Latino” and “Latination.” “Be out as possible, being quiet doesn’t help the cause.” Poignant words from Dennis.
The next introduction was of Jose Resendez (@thejoseresendez) a communication expert from Miami and Los Angeles. Jose is a powerhouse having worked with many Fortune 500 companies such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Pepsi company, JP Morgan Chase and that’s just to name a few. Jose graduated from AI Miami International University of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising. Although Jose’s passion could be described as “gay” his resume spells out that he could sleep with animated space creatures and he’d still be in demand. “There’s a market for everything” said Jose, and he’s involved with many. He’s listed as one of the “Most Inspiring Latinos” in Alegria Magazine. Jose is extremely active in marketing, publicity, and pop culture.
Diossa Femme (@diossafemme) is a writer and founder of Locatora Radio. She is Peruvian and Mexican, born and raised in Los Angeles. Her podcast is a major success with topics such as mental health, self care, and equality. Her experience of not looking the part of a lesbian is one of the reasons for her name “femme.” Certain descriptive words for gay women such as “femme” had been established “as far back as the 70’s” said Diossa perched with beautiful legs and heels on her panel chair. The other reason is tragically due to death and rape threats she has received, and prefers to keep her anonymity. Diossa Femme, editor and co host of her podcast has been featured in Forbes Magazine, and Latina Magazine. Diossa continues to talk about subjects that might make you feel uncomfortable or self conscious.
Finally and importantly was Jose Richard Aviles (@soynalgona). “Soy Nalgona” is a treat for anyone. This young exciting performance artist may make you laugh with his commentary, but he’s no joke. With two masters degrees under his belt, Richard says “It’s just hood famous.”
“The day I’m no longer authentic, just tell me no girl, sit down.” Richard referred to himself in the third person. Growing up in South Central, Richard grew up taking public transit, and public insults and homophobic ridicule. Richard has turned his life experiences into multimedia art. Richard is also a dancer and choreographer. Richard stays humble and is proud of his neighborhood South Central.
As I listened to this panel, what I noticed was that they were young, ambitious, and well accomplished. These young artists deserve every taxpaying right of every other human being. If given time and more exposure like these “platicas” the intelligent straight community can continue to accept and understand the fight for equality. After all, aren’t so many of us fighting for the same thing?