The San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles is often referred to as “the valley” with a reputation that precedes it. Despite the “valley girl” image that most people are drawn to when they think of the San Fernando Valley, it is actually home to many Latinx folks and people of color who do not fit the stereotypical “valley” mold. The San Fernando Valley has a diverse and unique culture of its own that lacks representation in the media. Somos Familia Valle is an LGBTQ+ organization created by “local low-income first-generation college students who are LGBTQ+ people of color and immigrants,” and it is creating a space for that very culture to thrive.
The group even organized the first ever San Fernando Valley Pride march the same year they founded the organization in 2014. Although faced with much opposition in its founding year, the group still put on the Pride event in hopes of at least 20 participants and instead were pleasantly surprised by 100.
Since then the SFV Pride had taken on themes of “A Safer Place to Call Home” and “Revitalize Pride.”
Along with providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ womyn of color, the group is also very politically involved and has organized social justice marches in the past to commemorate lost lives of people of color, especially in the trans community. Somos Familia Valle also went out on the streets to protest the Trump Administration.
The group also hosts the intersectional feminist initiative, Valley Femmehood, which holds meetings every last Thursday of the month at the nonprofit organization, Pueblo y Salud, in San Fernando. The femmes and women of color within the LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities meet to share food, stories and experiences. Gender identity, cultural background and sexual violence are some of the topics of discussion as well as expression through poetry.
Somos Familia Valle board member Ronnie Veliz tells INTO, “The importance of Valley Femmehood can be found in our increasing support, diversity, and hopes for more inclusion and local feminism of color in the San Fernando Valley. It is wonderful and tangible when you have a space to become familiar with folks looking to be themselves and embrace femme power from all walks of life. We see it in the resilience of our members.”
The group works to the community of San Fernando Valley a safer space for Latinx and LGBTQ+ folk. Each initiative hopes to garner support for and education about the lives of queer people who reside in the SFV.