As a former resident advisor of the University of New Mexico’s Gender Neutral and Allies Living Learning Community (LLC), recent graduate Larissa Romero has encouraged and empowered LGBTQ+ students on campus both while attending and after graduating from the University. After finding herself in life, Romero wants others to be able to do the same.
“She’s such a loving and caring person and just wants everyone to feel comfortable and confident being their true, authentic self no matter what sexual orientation,” Romero’s close friend, Natalie Carson, said.
Romero worked to facilitate essential discussions on queer experiences as a resident advisor in the dorms, according to Carson. This motivation to start conversations didn’t stop at graduation, though.
Currently, Romero continues to advocate for greater funding to the resource centers on campus, due to queer, marginalized students being at greater risk for losing their housing or jobs.
“I would love to see more scholarships or grants available to our marginalized students here on campus,” Romero said.
Romero made a point to bring up the accessibility of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, emphasizing the significance these places hold as a safe space for queer individuals.
“(The Gender Neutral and Allies LLC) was pretty inclusive and made everyone feel safe going to the bathroom,” Romero said. “I would like to see, in housing, more inclusive queer spaces and gender-nuetral bathrooms.”
Romero highlighted the significance of the need for inclusive spaces for UNM’s diverse student body, and not only for queer students but also for students of color.
“In a lot of queer circles, there’s a big conversation about sexuality but not a big conversation about race,” Romero said. “A lot of queer students of color have a harder time in the general community because the needs are different, the discussions are different.”
In her own circle, Romero has kept her friend group tight amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but said that this actually brought all of her queer friends closer together. Romero was the first person Carson came out to, and Carson said Romero’s support and friendship contribute to her confidence in embracing her own bisexual identity.
Romero herself didn’t feel completely involved or embraced by the LGBTQ+ community until she got to college. At UNM, Romero saw an opportunity to be a part of something greater and kept going from there.
Rebecca Hobart is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo