The Crossroads festival kicked off this week in Brownsville with several talks about important community topics, such as border issues, federal immigration policies, voter engagement in the Rio Grande Valley and LGBTQ+ activism.
The talks are part of the festival’s politics track and will continue today at 9 a.m. at the Camille Playhouse with the border from behind the lens, space science developments in Brownsville and the future of Brownsville and Matamoros.
Beatrix Lestrange, Gabriel Sanchez and Jada Josette were part of the LGBTQ+ activism talk and said they like the direction Brownsville is going with more representation and support from the community and elected officials.
“Being able to work with the organizers for Crossroads to include queer trans forces on topics of politics is really important because we are seeing a lot of more visibility in our city, we’re working with our city government for the task force,” Lestrange, a drag queen activist, said. “So it is one of those things that helps other people to see that Brownsville is an open city, it is inclusive and there are people like you here, we’re here and your city supports you.”
Lestrange said the culture of Brownsville has to change so people can freely be themselves without having to apologize or feel like they have to be afraid.
“I would like to see people being more accepting, I would like to see people more wanting to participate in city government; one of the things we are realizing is that we’ve never seen queer people be represented in our city government,” the activist said.
Sanchez, president of South Texas Equality Project, said these conversations bring awareness and visibility to the community.
“ Having talks like these, conversations like these, in such a visible place is really important for moving that cause forward and for letting people know that we exist and what our challenges are and how they can help the community,” Sanchez said.
Josette, president of Gender Equality of Texas, said visibility is important and that people need to realize that there’s a community that is growing in the Rio Grande Valley
“ It’s important because it’s also 2020, we’re not back in 1920 so now we are currently more progressive and having a committee that reflects off of each other is a beautiful thing,” Josette said.
During the voter engagement talk, Emma Catarina Guevara, RGV field organizer with Battleground Texas; Ofelia Alonso, Texas Rising’s regional field coordinator and Andrea Juarez, deputy field organizer for Texas Rising mentioned issues that affect voters in the area such as lack of information and lack of representation.
“The Valley is a very unique region as a border town, and it is about time that we accommodate to the way that we work and the way that we understand things,” Juarez said.
Alonso said it is important to highlight the people that stay in the Valley and work for their community.
“It’s good to highlight the work that’s been done in the Valley, I think sometimes we are so impressed by people leaving the Valley and doing good things, which is great I’m not saying is not, but there’s a lot of value in the people that stay here and work for their community,” Alonso said. “This is leadership, too, and it is something that should be highlighted more often.”
Guevara said there are a lot of people working to improve the community. She added events like Crossroads are important because people can find out more about who are the ones trying to make change.
“It’s important to highlight the work that’s been done because without events like this, a lot of people wouldn’t know what it was happening to begin with so it is really important to show the community that there are people trying to make change that aren’t looking for a dollar sign or looking to get elected,” Guevara said. “It is just of us who live here and want our community to be better because we love it.”