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The Student News Site of Mt. San Jacinto College

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The Inland Empire Needs Queer Community More than Ever

MSJC’s SAGA Club Makes Its Return
people gathering at event with flags
Pexels photographer: Mick De Paola
people gathering at event with flags

For many Americans, 2023 was a year celebrating—and, in some cases, loathing—the nation’s return to relative normalcy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For America’s LGBTQIA+ community, however, 2023 was a year plagued by the increasing intensity of a modern-day, rainbow-flavored Satanic Panic. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union tracked over 500 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills introduced in state legislatures across the country, including one in California. AB1314, introduced by Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-63), died in committee without a hearing. The bill, seemingly inspired by similar laws passed throughout the country, would have forced schools across the state to notify parents if their child is transgender or otherwise gender non-conforming. Despite being denied a hearing, the bill’s effects have helped fuel the flames of anti-LGBTQIA+ hysteria in the Inland Empire by inspiring city council meltdowns and copycat policies passed by local school boards.

According to Ruby Secules, a senator on the Student Government Association’s Student Equity and Cultural Affairs committee, as well as president of the SAGA club, this is a critical time for queer students to stick together.

“The United States, and particularly the Inland Empire, has been dealing with a lot of discrimination, a lot of homophobia and transphobia, especially surrounding queer youth,” Secules says. “Currently, in the Inland Empire, there are not many designated queer spaces. Other than Riverside and a few small gatherings in Temecula, there isn’t much of a community going on. So, especially here at MSJC, with the diversity of our students—particularly the age range of our students, most of our students are recent high school graduates—it’s important to create a space where queer students can feel seen and heard, be connected to resources and support networks, and also meet other queer people; a place where you can just be a person every once in a while—not have to keep your guard up all the time.”

SAGA flyer

For MSJC students, SAGA serves as that place. SAGA is a club aimed at queer students and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community. Initially forced online by the pandemic, the club meets weekly in room 409 on the Menifee Valley Campus.

The club, whose name stands for Sexuality and Gender Alliance, has plans for community forums, resource drives, and some more fun and lighthearted events, like movie nights, for club members to enjoy. Secules says she and the other SAGA board members are accepting suggestions for club activities that attendees may want to see.

“In closing, the Inland Empire needs queer community more than ever,” she says, “and getting involved with MSJC’s SAGA is a great way to build that community, get connected to a support network, and make new friends.”

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About the Contributor
Avery Saucier
Avery Saucier, Writer
Hi there! My name is Avery. I'm a journalism major originally from Kingston, Massachusetts. Much of my writing, both formal and informal, focuses on the cultural and sociopolitical changes taking place in the 21st century, especially in today's America. I have some experience writing for a nonprofit organization, and I look forward to continue developing my skills here at the Talon!

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