In recognition of Hawaiian History Month in September, and Filipino History and LGBTQ+ History months in October, the University of Hawaiʻi Commission on LGBTQ+ Equality is showcasing free online presentations and talk story panels in an effort to promote connection and uplift diverse voices and experiences.
QUEERIFY, a three-month long series on Zoom will address various facets of queer experience and allyship such as intersections with culture, neurodivergence and disability.
Discovery and healing
Kaleikūkamakani Ruiz, an assistant professor and counselor at Leeward Community College, spearheaded the inaugural series.
Ruiz understands the power of internal acceptance, and has conducted extensive research on Indigenous perspectives on gender and sexuality, which has led to a great deal of healing in his own life.
“This healing of discovery and connection is what I want for our community as a whole. My hope is that this platform allows us to learn more about ourselves and others, and in those connections, find healing, enlightenment and empowerment.”
Ruiz’s research is one of QUEERIFY’s planned lectures. The series spotlights presenters and panelists from the UH System and professionals in the community.
- Hula & Māhū: Finding Strength in Cultural Connection: September 19 at 3 p.m.
- Finding Hina: A Personal Journey to Redefine Māhū: September 21 at 3 p.m.
- Coming Out: When The World Won’t Let You: September 27 at p.m.
- A-SPEC: Aromanticism & Asexuality: October 3 at 3 p.m.
- Living as Queer + Disabled: October 10 at 3:15 p.m.
- Professionally Queer: Navigating Queer Identity in Career Settings: October 19 at 3 p.m.
- How to Be an Ally to the LGBTQIA+ Community: October 24 at 3:15 p.m.
- Navigating Filipinx & Queer Identity: October 26 at p.m.
- Creating a Culture of Acceptance: Parents as Allies: November 2 at 3 p.m.
Nourishing manaʻo (thought, perspective)
Kawena Lorenzo, a Hawaiian Pacific studies major at UH West Oʻahu and UH Commission on LGBTQ Equality member, is grateful the series will amplify queer voices to share much needed manaʻo about challenging struggles and triumphs.
Last spring, Lorenzo graduated from Leeward CC and was one of 23 recipients chosen from among thousands of applicants for the Flagship Scholarship from Point Foundation, the largest LGBTQ scholarship-granting nonprofit in the nation.
- Related UH News story: National LGBTQ scholarship for Leeward CC grad, June 19, 2023
“As someone who identifies as māhū, I feel it is important for people to hear the stories of our LGBTQ+ community, to understand our perspective not just on a human level but also the cultural significance of what it means to be māhū in the Native Hawaiian community,” said Lorenzo. “Our existence played a vital role—as teachers, caregivers, advisors,and we still serve in these capacities today.”