Local LGBTQ community reacts to Pope Francis' announcement on civil unions

Posted at 5:35 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 20:40:59-04

In a surprising announcement Wednesday morning, Pope Francis said he supports same-sex unions. With October also considered LGBTQ History Month, 23ABC's Bayne Froney introduces one local group who says this message from the Catholic church is a step in the right direction.

Dr. Jaime Ortiz, vice president for The Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity believes that the Pope's comments are a move in the right direction and that it comes during a great time.

"Especially coming out of the month of October that he believes that the LGBTQ community should get together legally and form families - that's amazing."

It was an announcement Ortiz thought he would never hear.

"There are still a lot of hearts and minds to change, this by itself is not going to be enough but the world is changing."

The month of October is LGBTQ History Month, highlighting the progress made for LGBTQ rights.

While COVID-19 has canceled many events this year, California State University of Bakersfield (CSUB) has made it their mission to celebrate this month with what they call "Out-ober" with virtual events.

"We are just recognizing and celebrating the historical policies, bills, perspectives, people, contributions that LGBTQ plus people have made throughout our country throughout the world," said Dr. Bre Evans-Santiago, chair of teacher education at CSUB.

CSUB is hosting virtual events all month long which include a virtual LGBTQ book reading as well as an Instagram live dance party for the Bakersfield community to join.

"So everyone can get on and just dance the night away and have that party feel," said Evans-Santiago.

Both CSUB and The Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity have resources available for those who may be struggling with coming out.
"There is help, there is support, and most importantly they are not alone," said Ortiz.

The Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity has free confidential counseling for anyone who may be struggling. You can also check out The Center's calendar of upcoming events.