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The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

LGBTQ+ History Month closes with inspirational speaker

Helen Harlan
Legislative Consultant for the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Jacob Fraker speaks in the WINN Center on Tuesday. Fraker’s talk closed LGBTQ+ History Month celebrations on campus.

LGBTQ+ History Month celebrations came to a close on Tuesday as the campus welcomed Legislative Consultant for the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Jacob Fraker.

Fraker opened the one-hour talk in the WINN Center with his biography and said he hoped the lecture would be a candid conversation with the audience. He recalled his time as a community college student at Columbia College in Sonora when he was a closeted young gay man.

“I was incredibly depressed and completely lost,” Fraker said of his first three semesters which ended with him on academic probation. “I was living a life unrealized.”

Fraker was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic disease, when he was seven. He spoke about how CF, combined with being gay in a conservative area like Tuolumne county where he grew up, made him feel hopeless.

“Why get a degree if I am just going to die in the closet?” Fraker said.

Fraker said his work with a medical social worker helped to turn his life around and he re-enrolled in community college and graduated with a 3.5 GPA.

Though he would go on to earn degrees from San Jose State and UC Berkeley, Fraker said he credits his time at community college for his imagination, innovation and passion that led him to where he is today.

“The reality is that I am just a tired old queen,” Fraker said with knowing sarcasm as the audience laughed.

“That’s a little about me, but what does that have to do with LGBTQ+ History Month?” Fraker said as he turned the talk to the audience.

Fraker spoke on the dangers of isolating queer history between the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the Marriage Equality Act of 2015, the history of queer people in ancient Greece and Egypt and his own career as an advocate with a “Big A”.

“I would love to be able to write a bill that would make it illegal to be an a***hole,” Fraker said bluntly.

After answering two guided questions, the event opened up to a question-and-answer session. Fraker closed with an affirmation delivered directly to the audience.

“You have value. You have worth. You are needed,” Fraker said.

William Yap, 21, a computer science major, said he works as an APIDA HAWKS student mentor. He said he heard about the event and wanted to come support the Pride Center.

“It was a really informative event. It made me really open my eyes about how I could advocate more for the community around me,” Yap said.
Yvonne Johnson, a clerk at the front desk at the Center for Inclusion and Belonging, said that because of the talk she was going to call her brother, a constitutional law professor at Columbia University in New York City who is a gay, Black male.

“It made me appreciate that there are people advocating the Big A, for gay rights,” Johnson said.

Johnson and other staff and faculty served barbecue chicken, egg rolls and macaroni salad to audience members who mingled after the event.

Annalyse Thorpe, 20, a psychology major, attended the event and said she came because she is personally part of the queer community and likes listening to other people’s experiences.

Thorpe said that even though LGBTQ+ History Month was coming to a close, people should still educate themselves, still learn about it and still talk about it.

“Just because we have a month dedicated to it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist outside of that month,” Thorpe said.

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About the Contributor
Helen Harlan
Helen Harlan, News Editor
Helen Harlan is a News Editor for the Connection newspaper. She joined the Connection to see and hear how people feel about the world around them, and her goal is to build her portfolio as a journalist. She has an affinity for animals, conservationism and the classic sitcom Seinfeld.

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