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Meet Our Scholars

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Leo Castaneda-Pineda

Rhode Island College

English & Creative Writing



Leo grew up in a single-parent household with his older brother in Providence, Rhode Island. The son of immigrants, they grew up surrounded by the vibrant music, food, and traditions of Guatemalan culture, as well as its strict expectations about gender roles and its anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments. From a young age, he knew he was different, as did his peers, but had no access to information about the queer community. Growing up in a predominantly Catholic family while also attending Catholic school caused him to feel even more alienated and confused. After learning about transmasculinity at 13, he came out to his mother and brother a year later, only to have their identity suppressed. Despite the struggle of being rejected, Leo is now 21 and so proud of who they are. He is pursuing a degree in English & Creative Writing at Rhode Island College. They are passionate about queer representation in storytelling and the need for more characters with intersectional identities. Leo hopes their writing can inspire and educate others. He aspires to create stories featuring diverse characters to help others, especially young people, find themselves and feel seen.

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