A confidential support network that serves self-identified LGBTQ people of color in the Five College community, FAMILIA aims to increase the visibility of LGBTQ students of color and to heighten awareness by creating a space for open dialogue. Queer people of color have long been involved with LGBTQ organizing at the College. Available records note that queer women of color were actively involved in the historic Lesbian Bisexual Alliance, and edited papers like La Libertad. The forerunner to Familia was SYSTA, which was created in 1994 to combat racism and discrimination among other LGBTQ orgs on campus.
Sean King ’14 is one of the many altruistic and community-driven graduates that have left FAMILIA and Mount Holyoke to spread what they’ve learned to others. An African American Studies major and former chair of the FAMILIA board, Sean worked as a legal intern with Faces NY during his time at Mount Holyoke, advocating for community projects serving incarcerated women and planning HIV awareness campaigns. His drive to create and promote positive community experiences continued after graduation and he now works as a Public Ally Fellow, serving middle school students, and as a population management specialist with Care for the Homeless in the greater New York City area. With skills in community-building and the support garnered from organizations like FAMILIA, Sean has moved into the world as an agent of change, growth, and learning.
The group was instrumental in the establishment of the Jeannette Marks House, the campus cultural center hosting Mount Holyoke’s 6 LGBTQ-oriented student organizations. FAMILIA meets weekly, and hosts communal dinners, workshops, special events, and more. FAMILIA is also notorious for their annual Gaysgiving meal, a holiday dinner thrown for and by members of FAMILIA to serve delicious food to queer students of color during the Thanksgiving holiday, and for their yearly Queer People of Color Celebration Week.