From left to right: Fresno State students Benji Kahikina,
Steven Barcelos and Sean Wenzel greeted guests at the
United Student Pride booth in the Arne Nixon Center at
the Henry Madden Library.
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian
Fresno State’s United Student Pride club held a reception on Nov. 17 to celebrate the release of their anthology publication titled “Our Stories: Voices of the LGBT+ Community.” The 57-page long anthology features a collection of short stories, essays, poetry and art that illustrates the LGBT experiences of writers from the Central Valley.
More than 40 people attended the reception Thursday evening at the Arne Nixon Center in the Henry Madden Library to celebrate and praise the club’s efforts to bring the community together through the publication. The release party featured an interactive program including presentations from the United Student Pride anthology committee and other community members.
“I’m incredibly proud of the way [the anthology] came out,” adult mentor to United Student Pride members Kaylia Metcalfe said. “We’re really pleased with the quality and variety of the submissions.”
Metcalfe, a member of the Gay Central Valley organization, was one of five members of the United Student Pride anthology committee. The committee was responsible for ensuring funding, collecting submissions and printing the anthology. Metcalfe also assisted in editing the publication and provided writing advice to contributors.
United Student Pride president and Fresno State student Zoyer Zyndel said that the club published similar anthologies in the past. They strived to revive the effort because they feel it is important to make such publications available to the public, especially young people.
“Some young people may see no representation of who they are [in the media], sending the message that they are not normal,” Zyndel said during a speech at the event. “This is the reason why we created an anthology like this.”
Zyndel hopes that the anthology will also counteract gay stereotypes portrayed in the media.
The anthology committee said that 23 submissions were published and cover topics like soul-searching, rejection and resiliency. Metcalfe said that the anthology committee requested submissions on Facebook, Twitter and other media outlets.
Metcalfe added that submissions from Stockton to Bakersfield were received and featured a myriad of voices from the LGBT community, including straight allies.
“These stories are all genuine to the LGBT experience,” Zyndel said.
Steven Barcelos, a United Student Pride member and contributor to the anthology, was extremely happy with the turnout of the release party and the publication.
Barcelos, who identifies himself as gay, wrote a creative non-fiction story for the anthology titled “Eggs.” In the short story, he tells readers about a dinner conversation he had with his father. In his story he discusses his father’s initial and current reaction towards his sexuality. He admits that it was a really awkward situation, but he wanted to share it with readers.
“The Central Valley isn’t known for being very open towards homosexuality, so writing this story was important to me,” Barcelos said. “Maybe someone else will read my story and feel less lonely.”
Barcelos and several other United Student Pride club members sat behind a booth throughout the night selling copies of the anthology for $10. Over 30 copies were sold during the release party.
An initial run of 125 copies of the anthology was printed and was made possible by a grant from The Undergraduate Research Grant Program. The club plans to use funds collected from sales of the anthology to produce issues in the future.
Since the publication of “Our Stories,” the goal of the club has shifted towards making the anthology available to the public through schools and libraries.
“We still have a long way to go,” Metcalfe said.
Following the reception, the anthology will be available for purchase at the LGBT Community Center located on Van Ness Avenue in Fresno. The club is also working on setting up an online store for the anthology. Jennifer Crowe of the Arne Nixon Center mentioned at the event that the publication will be available to the public at the Center. She commended the club’s efforts to bring the community together through their stories.
Club and committee members considered the event a huge success. Zyndel said it was really touching to see so many people at the release party.
“I hope it’s one of many anthologies we see in the future,” Zyndel said during his closing remarks at the reception. “It’s printed and this anthology will be here forever.