Borderlands Speaker shares importance of art, community


Collegian | Milo Gladstein

Sonia Guiñansaca speaks as the first live Boarderlands Speaker Oct. 5. “I was delighted to get this invite to speak on the overlap of my identities and experiences,” Guiñansaca said. “I was moved when I was asked to speak about my work; I was ecstatic when I was asked to speak on joy.”

Katherine Borsting, Staff Reporter

On Oct. 5, Sonia Guiñansaca came to Colorado State University as the Borderlands Speaker — a collaboration between El Centro and the Pride Resource Center — and discussed their experiences as a queer Latinx individual and how they were able to discover and navigate themself through their culture. 

El Centro is an organization at CSU that provides resources and support for the Latinx community on campus. During the organization’s Latinx Heritage Month, El Centro has hosted many events to recognize CSU’s Latinx community. 


National Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15. The recognition of the month began in 1968 as a celebratory week and in 1988 expanded into a 30-day period in the United States to acknowledge the contributions and cultural influence the Latinx community has brought to the U.S. 

Guiñansaca is an award-winning migrant queer poet from Ecuador who was raised in New York from a young age. They began their early leadership in the queer Latinx community at around 18 years old. 

As an undocumented queer individual, Guiñansaca often longed for a sense of belonging and felt the need to fight for underrepresented individuals. 

During their speech Guiñansaca also shared they were an organizer for events involving social change, and they often noticed the progress of people of color was credited to straight, white individuals. Guiñansaca pointed out how people of color have often been pushed aside for their victories, and the change they are fighting for is often underrepresented if represented at all. 

Guiñansaca has had a lot of their social change work influenced by art. During their speech, they read a poem from their recent book titled “Nostalgia & Borders.” They went on to share the importance of art and its relation to social change.

“Being an artist saved me, and we could not have social change without artists,” Guiñansaca said.

They described how impactful and meaningful art has been for them and how it has allowed them a form of expression. Throughout their speech, Guiñansaca discussed the struggle they experienced growing up undocumented and how it was difficult to find a sense of belonging.

“My community is built on shared values, and I have chosen family,” Guiñansaca said. 

They explained the importance of chosen family and that who they choose to surround themselves with is a support system in their life. The majority of CSU students are white, and it can be difficult for people of color to feel welcome or seen on campus, meaning many students can relate to the experiences Guiñansaca shared. 


Michelle Cadena is the assistant director of El Centro and helped arrange the Borderlands Speaker. Events like the Borderlands Speaker that highlight other cultures and communities are necessary and can increase inclusion on campus. 

“It’s important to have visibility and representation of all our communities at CSU,” Cadena said. “Our students interact on this campus in multiple ways, platforms and spaces, and these must also be inclusive and accessible to create a healthier and safer environment for learning and growth.” 

Being aware and acknowledging others around you is crucial for an inclusive campus. It is important to be attentive to other groups who are the minority and give them space for expression. 

Engage with resources and conversations that expand your awareness,” Cadena said while explaining how to educate ourselves about other groups on campus. “Attend events — get out of your comfort zone.”

Acknowledgment of groups and cultures like the Latinx community is a way to show appreciation for the contributions and influence different groups make. Attending events like the Borderlands Speaker can allow students to broaden their perspectives and be more aware of differences between individuals on campus.

Reach Katherine Borsting at or on Twitter @katbor2025