REYNALDO CULANNAY identifies as a gay, 1st generation Filipino-American college student at Pitzer College in East Southern California. He loves boba, is addicted to coffee, and plays too much League of Legends. We call him Rey. Sometimes, Reyrey. He volunteered with us all summer long, and now we’re proud to call him our Fall Intern!
Rey is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Asian American Studies. On campus he is involved in a many API-related programs, such as Pitzer’s Center for Asian Pacific American Students (CAPAS) and Pomona College’s Asian American Resource Center (AARC), where he helps to facilitate or coordinate events to address various API intersections. Within these programs Rey works to address community issues by politicizing and empowering younger students in Los Angeles, Chinatown through capturing and telling their personal narratives.
While volunteering at API Equality – Northern California, Rey was also volunteering at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond, CA. He helped answer visitors’ questions at the service desk, assisted patients with their online accounts, worked in the Pre/Post Operation Care Unit, and discharged patients. Exploring his future in medicine is also a very important part of his journey.
Growing up, Rey never got to explore his identity as a gay AND Asian American male. From this lack of knowledge and resources, he felt lost.
“Almost everyday, I went on living my life as an empty vessel who didn’t know who he was or how to describe himself. There was nothing that I could see in history to aid myself in obtaining a sense of self. Realizing that there was nothing I could look back on was the start of my journey of finding that hidden history.”
Feeling motivated to investigate who he was led him to finding API Equality – Northern California and led him to creating the very first Dragon Fruit Project Zine!
Rey feels that the Dragon Fruit Project addresses the lack of LGBTQ API awareness, community, and history. After taking an Asian American Studies course called “Asian American and Queer Zines”, Rey urged us to create a zine to bring visibility to the LGBTQ API histories. Witnessing the community’s reaction to the zine was his favorite moment.
“Zines promote underground culture and bring visibility to various issues. It allows me to be creative as I continue to increase my consciousness about LGBTQ API identities. After taking the time to learn and grow through my first year at college, I feel the need to utilize the talents and abilities that teachers and mentors have taught me to “pay it forward”.
Rey believes that spreading more awareness about our LGBTQ API community can build knowledge and challenge people to critically think about how their position, power, and privilege can affect others and their surroundings.
FUN FACT: Reyrey can’t drive, and he would like to thank not only his own two legs for powering through the hills of Chinatown, but also BART and the other public transportation services that helped him get to API Equality – Northern California and our events.