On Wednesday evening, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) hosted critically-acclaimed writer Gabby Rivera in the Kresge Auditorium as part of their celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. Rivera is the author of the young adult novel “Juliet Takes a Breath,” a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story with a queer Latin American woman as its protagonist. Rivera came to Kresge to share her experiences as a Latin American writer and member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Rivera has collaborated on a comic book series published by Boom Studios titled “Lumberjanes.” Rivera is also the creator of the 2017-2018 Marvel Comic “America,” which features America Chavez, Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBTQ+ character to have her own solo comic series. America is written as smart, tough with a big heart and a fighter set on defending and upholding justice.
Over the summer, the LASO board met with Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Inclusion and Diversity and Director of Multicultural Student Life Eduardo Pazos to discuss possible event ideas for Latinx Heritage Month, with an appearance by Rivera in mind.
“This year we wanted to cover some of the topics that aren’t talked much about within the Latin American community, a group of people that are simply clumped together with vast differences and unique experiences, such as queerness as a taboo topic.” LASO President Fransisco Adame-Perez ‘24 said.
With help from Pazos and the Center for Multicultural Life along with the Sexuality, Women and Gender Center, LASO was able to schedule an event with Rivera. The aim of the event was to encourage students to take inspiration from Rivera’s achievements.
“We were inspired by the importance of Gabby’s role in representing a queer Latina of color in the Marvel world, an area that is dominated by white superheroes,” Adame-Perez said. “So we hope that this inspires students to pave new paths in their respective interests whether that be relating to one’s career, passions or hobbies.”
One of the major reasons for America Chavez’s popularity is her relatability. She’s an unstoppable superhero, but she is also a very human character.
Angela Delgado, a member of the Class of 2025, was in attendance at the event and was motivated by Rivera’s personal and professional journey as a Latina author.
“She’s a huge inspiration … Her talk was so empowering, and I related to a lot of her personal experiences. I’m so glad to have been able to meet someone who overcame so many barriers that I feel myself facing now,” Delgado said. “Seeing Gabby live her best life despite past hardships with such a lively and joyful personality makes me feel like I can get through anything.”
Rivera’s writing has resonated with so many readers by creating characters for those who have been denied representation for too long.
“As a wider message, we hope the Bowdoin community is able to appreciate and value the [influence] that the Latinx community has both historically and presently on shaping the society we live in today,” Adame-Perez said. “We often isolate the history of communities of color in the United States as separate rather than framing it as a part of the cultural shaping of our country today.”