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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SCEA Spring Fling event and awards

Left to right: John Mark Hild, Bri Buentello, Sage Tafoya (Award Recipient), and Outfront Youth Student Participant. Photo provided by Javier Quiñones.

By Cidonia Ponce

Organizations in the community need to make an effort to make a change and create an accepting and encouraging environment for everyone. Southern Colorado Equality Alliance (SCEA) is one of those organizations. SCEA has made massive strides in its advocacy for LGBTIQA+ rights and inclusion in the community, as it was founded nearly 30 years ago. 

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center explains LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual and more. These terms describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

SCEA became primarily known for its contributions to the LGBTIQA+ community through support and resources, including informational panels and debates, educating on LGBTIQA+ issues and hosting many events throughout the year.

One of their more well-known events happened this past weekend: the “Spring Fling Event.” This was the fifth annual event and highlighted all that SCEA has accomplished this year while also recognizing and awarding influential and positive people and organizations in the community.  

Political Science CSU Pueblo Alumnus, Tommy Farrell, is actively involved in Prizm, a former LGBTIQA+ student group on campus. Through his commitment and efforts dedicated to the LGBTIQA+ community in the past 15 years, Farrell worked his way up to becoming a part of the board in 2016 and is now the President of SCEA. 

Farrell gave insight into the event and what purpose it serves. “We have a couple of purposes; one is that our bylaws require that we give an annual report, so part of it is a little business where we talk about the business and highlights of that year,” Farrell said. 

Not only does this event focus on highlighting the business aspect of SCEA but they also make an effort to celebrate award recipients. 

“One of the awards is called the OutFront Shining Star, recognizing individuals, businesses, and organizations in the past who have made some kind of impact on our OutFront Youth Program,” Farrell explained. 

Sage Tafoya, one of the facilitators of OutFront and a former participant for many years, was the recipient of this year’s OutFront Shining Star award.

There is also another award that SCEA does that is called the Person of the Year award. Farrell, who was this year’s recipient, was able to share his perspective and what it means to be given this award. 

“I’ve been involved with the organization for such a long time that I am very appreciative of what I get to do with the organization,” Farrell stated. 

Farrell continued sharing his story of why this award is so meaningful for him. “I told the story during the awards that when I was a kid in high school who wasn’t out and didn’t feel supported or safe necessarily to come out, I saw the website about OutFront Youth Group and knew that there were other people who were dealing with the same thing.”

Another impactful award during the Spring Fling event was the Business of the Year Award. This award recognizes locally owned businesses that bring positivity and difference to the LGBTIQA+ community. This year’s recipient of the Business of the Year was Pueblo Drip.

Pueblo Drip is a Latinx, queer-owned and nonbinary multi-purpose vintage thrift store in Pueblo, Colo. The owner of Pueblo Drip, Jai von Westphalen, shared the services that Pueblo Drip brings to the community. 

“Drip has a multitude of purposes which include serving as a second-hand shop that accepts donations and trades, while also giving the majority of items donated back to the homeless community and local organizations where they can help the impoverished, free of charge,” Jai explained. 

Not only so, but the Drip also hosts curated events as well as local artists and vendors through consignment. 

Jai explained what the award means for them, being a queer Latinx business owner. “Winning this award means that Drip is being recognized for the work it has done and will continue to do by providing a platform for the queer trans and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community,” Jai stated. 

In the future, Jai wants to inform the community that Pueblo Drip is undergoing significant renovations. They expect completion sometime next year, as this space will accommodate Drip’s needs to grow as a business. Until then, Jai is very hopeful about what the future holds for the business. 

“Until then, I look forward to supporting other businesses and creatives that share similar values and prioritize sustainable practices for the growth of the community,” Jai explained.

Although the 2023 Spring Fling event was very successful, there are other events SCEA is looking forward to. “Our biggest event is Pueblo Pride, and I joke every year that Pride will be bigger than it ever had been before, but it’s true, every year it grows, so I expect we will probably grow this year,” Farrell explained. 

In the years to come, Farrell hopes to continue to build relationships and partnerships in the community where LGBTQ+ people feel more a part of the conversation around town. “I want to make sure we continue to do that for other kids and people who need that support and that sense of community and to know they are not alone,” Farrell stated. 

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