Gabby Rivera, a writer who explores themes of young adults coming of age and understanding their sexual identity, will deliver the keynote speech at a National Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month and LGBTQ+ History Month event at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 in Whittenberger Auditorium at the Indiana Memorial Union.
Rivera, author of the young adult novel “Juliet Takes a Breath,” also was the first Latina to write for Marvel Comics. She wrote the comic series “America,” about the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, America Chavez. A 2017 Washington Post story described the comic series as one that explored what it means to be brown and deals with feelings of disconnection.
The event is sponsored by the Hutton Honors College, La Casa/Latino Cultural Center, the College of Arts and Sciences’ Latino Studies Program, the LGBTQ+ Culture Center, the Media School and the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“This was an exciting opportunity to join La Casa in supporting a queer Latinx speaker on our campus,” said Bruce Smail, interim director of the LGBTQ+ Culture Center. “The joys of intersectionality made this special and La Casa was willing to schedule the event in the midst of both of our celebrations. Excited to meet and hear Gabby Rivera.”
Rivera explained in a 2017 National Public Radio interview that a Marvel editor had read “Juliet Takes a Breath,” about a young woman trying to figure out who she is after coming out to her family, and emailed Rivera and asked her to write for the “America” comic. Rivera described Chavez as a powerhouse of a young woman, and the comic series as one that deals with triumph, joy, heartache and connections to everyday experiences.
“Growing up, there was rarely main characters in books or superheroes who were Latina, let alone them also being queer,” said Ruby Flores-Camacho, a master’s students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. “Gabby Rivera is the type of representation I wish I had growing up, and I cannot not wait to meet and learn from her.”
Rivera also created her own comic series, “b.b. free,” about a teen learning what it means to be 15 while navigating a world of polluted earth and oceans.
At IU Bloomington, Rivera will discuss how she navigates the world as a queer, Latinx, millennial woman, and will talk about privilege and power, and supporting the ideas of diverse artists. The Bronx, New York, native of Puerto Rican descent supports Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) communities.
“I had a chance to see Gabby Rivera at a previous institution and it was this incredible joyful, fun and inspiring event. She brings the most incredible energy and creativity,” said Keitlyn Alcantara, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology.
“She helps you see the world in a completely new way, but also empowers you to see how you can be more than what you thought you were. She is a very kind and cozy person; being around her felt like getting a big hug from someone who believes in you. So glad that we are able to bring her to our campus for those here to also have that experience.”