As another LGBT+ History Month at Loyola Marymount University comes to an end, the LGBT Student Services office continues to promote equality, visibility and inclusion on campus. As a gay student at LMU, Nelson Peralta has made such advocacy his goal.
Nelson Peralta, junior
Hometown: Inglewood, California
When I started at Loyola Marymount University in spring 2014, I was not able to take part in orientation and other events that welcome incoming freshmen into the LMU community. And as a gay man, it felt strange to attend a Catholic institution.
At the time, I believed I would not be accepted at LMU and I felt lost and alone in a new environment without a support system. Luckily, I went to Club Fest and found the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and attended their next meeting. It was a relief to see so many other people who were part of the LGBT+ community. Even though I had never met them before, there was a sense of unity that we were all there with a similar understanding of what it was to be a little different from the norm.
A few days later, I ran into a couple of the GSA members in the Lion’s Den, and they invited me to the LGBT Student Services (LGBTSS) office. These people, who are now my closest friends, invited me to hang out with at the LGBT Student Services office. I immediately felt welcomed and spent most of my time there. It was a safe space where I could be myself with my friends without any fear of judgement.
I was soon hired to work in the LGBTSS office, where I learned a lot about working with the LGBT+ community. LGBTSS has helped me understand trans*issues, preferred gender pronouns, sexual orientations and gender identities that differed from my own. With the support of LGBTSS, I developed my leadership and facilitation skills. As part of the executive board of GSA, I learned professional skills such as managing meetings and planning events. One of the most exciting events that we planned was Out With A Bang! In 2014. It was a success to see so many organizations, like Greek Life and the cultural orgs, show up to celebrate and support the LGBT+ community.
My goal is to educate the program participants on some of the harsh realities that LGBT+ people face with relation to their identities and health
I am now the vice president of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance at LMU. I lead meetings and work with students to provide a safe and fun space where, as they put it, “the gays can meet.” I also serve as a service coordinator for LGBTSS where I plan service events that support the LGBT+ community outside of campus, which has allowed me to develop my advocacy skills.
Additionally, this year, in conjunction with the Center for Service and Action, I will lead an Alternative Breaks trip to New York to focus on LGBT+ issues and public health. My goal is to educate the program participants on some of the harsh realities that LGBT+ people face with relation to their identities and health, and I hope to inspire them to become advocates.
Even though I felt weird about attending a Catholic school as a gay-identifying male, I have come to embrace LMU’s Jesuit ideals as part of my own. LMU was only the second Jesuit intuition in the country to create a LGBT Student Services office, so I am very proud to be here. My LMU EXP has been to continue to provide resources for the queer population on the bluff and further the progress of an already amazing school.
Learn more about LGBT Student Services and resources available at LMU.
My LMU EXP is a series of student profiles, where in their own words, Loyola Marymount University students write about the co-curricular experiences that have helped shape them during time on the bluff.