Get to know LGBTQ

The guest speakers and panelists of Azusa’s first “Get To Know Me” gathered for a photo after a successful first-ever LGBTQ community forum in the city. This year’s GTKM forum will be held at the Azusa City Hall Auditorium on Dec. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. (Courtesy of Helen Jaramillo)

By Pat Cordova-Goff| Staff Writer

The third annual “Get To Know Me” event, an LGBTQ local forum, is scheduled for Dec. 11, in the Azusa City Hall Civic Auditorium. The agenda includes guest speakers, informative presentations, and a Q&A panel.
The Citrus Gay-Straight Alliance will be opening this year’s event with a video featuring some of its members. The clip will include discussion of balancing the appreciation of being a queer individual with acknowledging that there remains much more to a person besides their queer identity.
What would become an annual event was initiated in 2012 by Azusa Pacific University alum Adrianne Camacho, 22, an ally to the queer community.
During her senior year at APU, Camacho decided to plan an LGBTQ-friendly Azusa event. The result is GTKM, which now attracts over 100 participants.
“The queer community is a part of Azusa,” said Camacho. “It was about time they were acknowledged.”
The goals of the event are to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Azusians, and to create opportunities for allies to learn more about the queer community.
“GTKM really holds a special place in my heart,” said Sara Acevedo, 26, Citrus Gay-Straight Alliance president. “It brings together the local queer community and tells so many important stories.”
Sponsors for this year’s event include the Latino Equality Alliance, Pasadena Pride Center, and San Gabriel Valley Pride. Local organizations also continue to support GTKM including original supporters Azusa Haven, Center for Education, Diversity, and Reconciliation, the City of Azusa Human Relations Commission and new sponsor White’s Funeral Home.
The event was not always widely supported throughout the city however. In its initial stages, the founders encountered multiple obstacles placed by hesitant city workers, as in lack of communication from city officials and numerous objections to proposed requests for the event’s expansion. Three years later however, GTKM has the full support of Azusa’s mayor Rocha, and has been publicized on the citywide marquee.
According to the “All Are Welcomed” slogan, a targeted portion of the audience are local college students.
Students from Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University, along with local high schools, are encouraged to broaden their perspective on a growing community. Citrus students, in particular, have been past performers at the first two GTKM events.
“College is about socialization and experience as much as it is about education,” said Acevedo. “Events like these are the epitome of the college experience.”
“College students should attend GTKM because it is important to support our friends and peers in the queer community,” agreed Camacho. “Our stories are important and we should take the time to hear them and appreciate them.”
Whether an individual identifies within the queer community, or may be an ally, the Dec. 11 event offers an opportunity to ask questions during the open Q&A and listen to a variety of speakers and performers. With the help of sponsors, there is no cost to attending.
Get To Know Me will be located at the Azusa City Hall Civic Auditorium, 213 Foothill Blvd, Azusa, CA, from 7 p.m.- 9 p.m