Throughout my childhood, I lived my life with a closed mouth. I was every parent’s dream. It only took me once to do what I was told in my household, school, sports, and any other space I decided to exert my presence. I took each day as a song on replay beginning with school and ending with late-night dance practices. I never dared to go off routine and was always striving to keep my parents and the rest of the world happy; I am a people pleaser. I was very much the type of person who hated confrontation, so I led my life always doing as I was told whether I agreed or disagreed. And although some may see this lifestyle as perfect, it pushed me to become silent about the things that mattered most to me.
My identity was something that I always struggled to embrace. As many queer people can attest to, voicing your identity to the world takes a tremendous amount of courage. As a Latino and gay male dancer, courage was a quality that seemed so distant, as it seemed that all of my identities were at war with each other. How could I follow my passion without letting my heritage down? How could I fall in love without letting my family down?
Once my journey at the University of Southern California began, I guess you can call it the year of “discovery.” I pierced my ears about four weeks into the semester (without asking my parents) as an homage to a new beginning in the colorful city of Los Angeles. I fully embraced my queer identity as the Advocacy Director of the Queer and Ally Student Assembly (QuASA), an Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Diversity Council Member, and even a performer alongside two USC drag queens. I felt like a completely different person in this new environment — the person that I was always waiting to become.
When I got the call from Point’s Program Director Johnathan Rosales asking to be one of the featured speakers at Point Honors Los Angeles, tears of joy flooded my eyes, as this was going to be the year of revelation. I was going to close the chapter of living in silence. It was going to be hard to capture what nineteen years of youth had taught me, but I needed to ensure that the message would be authentic. Nevertheless, what made this moment so special was when Johnathan told me to “tell my story,” the reality was that my story had taken a dramatic turn. Ten years ago, I never envisioned that I would be invited to share my queer narrative in front of hundreds of audience members as a college student. My reality was taking over my father’s swimming pool business and seeing where the Coachella Valley would take me next. However, I was now a person of courage who was about to go against society’s expectations.
I spent weeks after weeks, edit upon edit deciding how I was going to share my narrative with the rest of the world. Of course I wanted to include some humor, so it did not become a five-minute crying session (surprisingly). Yet I knew that it was a priority to give thanks to the people who helped me along the way. As weeks before the event turned into days, I continued to reach out to friends and family for suggestions until time finally ran out…
As I stood at the podium with the microphone to my chin in front of the hundreds of Point Scholars, Alumni, sponsors, board members, and supporters who gathered for the night, I took a moment to reflect on the person who was going to be speaking. For years I had been the product of orders, becoming what I was told and believing what I had heard. I was living for others, always keeping in mind their opinion while neglecting the most important one: my own. Now, the lid to nineteen years of silence was going to be opened. I was going to speak my truth and the world was going to listen.
Watch Anthony's speech here!
This post was written by Fry-Garatea Family Point Scholar Anthony Pacheco.
Anthony is currently studying Applied and Computational Mathematics at the University of Southern California. He plans to continue using his voice to empower hispanic LGBTQ+ youth and educate the world about LGBTQ+ equality and safety. Read more about Anthony here.