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November 03, 2022

Sabine Maxine Lopez

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Being the Queer Elder I Needed in College

November 03, 2022
Sabine Maxine Lopez

When I decided to go back to community college in the Fall of 2020 (at the age of 39), I knew my experience would be different than when I began my community college journey at 17 years old. While I had ideas about who I was at 17, I wasn't a fully formed adult. When I think of who I am now, my feet are firmly planted in the ground, my head is held high, and my pride is unwavering.

I knew from an early age that I was "different" than my peers. I knew I liked EVERYONE, regardless of their gender identity or presentation. I didn't have the language to articulate this at all, but I knew in my heart who I was. My friends at school would talk about their crushes, and I knew enough to know not to speak about who I really liked. I didn't want to get teased, made fun of, or jumped. So I stayed silent. I stayed silent throughout middle school, high school, and even the beginning of college. I only spoke my truth to one or two people because I was still afraid, and I let this fear drive me for so long.

When I finally came out as queer at the age of 30 (late by some people's standards), there was no going back. I was one hundred percent ready for the life I had always imagined. It didn't take too long after I came out to find my partner, the person I would marry and create a wonderful life with. It took me until age 40 to embrace my gender identity and come out as a nonbinary femme (they/she). I'm profoundly grateful for all the knowledge I've acquired and equally grateful for the representation I have been able to see. I've expanded myself, my life, and my experience in ways I'd never imagined.

Madin and Sabine Lopez modeling for a wedding magazine.
 Madin & Sabine Lopez - 2016

When I told my partner I wanted to go back to school during the pandemic, they encouraged me to go for it. So that's what I did. I enrolled at Pasadena City College (PCC) because I had heard great things about the school. PCC is also Octavia Butler's alma mater, which is amazing! For the majority of my time at PCC I have only taken online courses due to COVID-19 and my being immunocompromised. I've proudly displayed my (they/she) pronouns during our class zoom meetings and have shared my experience as a nonbinary person. I've advocated for myself and my community in many ways. From little things like asking my professors not to gender assignment details (which is a weird thing to do anyway), and speaking about LGBTQ+ history. It's been an absolute honor to use my voice in this way. In Fall 2022, I stepped onto campus for my first in-person class, and I was elated.

Sabine standing outside wearing a Burgundy t-shirt that says Femmes Can Be Thems.
 Sabine - April 2020

On my first day on campus, I wore my "Femmes Can Be Thems" t-shirt with purpose and pride. I loved clocking other queer people when they saw my t-shirt and their faces lit up. Being able to share that I am a nonbinary femme with my classmates feels incredible. As a self-identified elder, I love being representation for these young queer kids, who are still figuring things out and may not feel comfortable with themselves yet. I want them to know I'm here as my true self, so you can be too!  

It means the world to me that I was chosen as a Point Foundation community college scholar and Student Ambassador. It feels like the most natural progression for me as a student who is out and proud on my campus. I cannot wait for 'Out in Higher Ed' week, so I can share with my classmates how Point Foundation has honored me not only as a student but as a queer and trans person. If I can in return, help one person feel more comfortable living their truth, then I'll consider my life fulfilled.

Sabine Maxine Lopez

This blog was written by Point Community College Scholar Sabine Maxine Lopez, who is studying studio art at Pasadena City College. Learn more about our Community College program and apply at

Originally posted on Sabine's blog here.

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