Opinion | The obstacles of living in the Midwest

Living in a Midwestern state as a Queer person of color comes with obstacles that need more attention.

Naomi Rivera Morales, Opinions Columnist

Home is a strong word.

At the very least, I want to feel some sense of safety and comfort. I want to feel welcomed. I have lived in numerous places, but among them, Iowa has been the one place where I continuously struggle to feel at home in.

Living in the Midwest as a minority comes with its own set of obstacles. It’s hard, and often worrisome, to live somewhere that does not hold individuals like you close. There aren’t very many of us here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve safety and comfort.

According to the American Community Survey, 89 percent of Iowans are white. In comparison, less than 4 percent of Iowans are Black, around 3 percent are two or more races, 2.5 percent are Asian, and just over 1 percent are categorized as “other race.”

Minority groups face mistreatment; are not truly listened to or heard; and get their concerns around health, housing, and civil rights and liberties pushed away. The list continues.

During my time living in Iowa, my mother and I have undergone comments to “go back to where we came from.” These instances not only made us feel unsafe but made us feel troubled to call Iowa home.

I do not see many individuals that look like me or that are part of a similar background as me. Since living in Iowa, this has been a common occurrence in my life.

Home is somewhere where I can connect and feel fully accepted by those around me. It is somewhere where I am able to exist without worry of rejection.

As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, my obstacles in Iowa have only increased.

My family has always taught me how important it is to feel comfortable with myself. Since learning that, I have always tried my best to do so. I attended my first Pride celebration last summer in St. Pete, Florida, and felt an immense wave of comfort. I was excited to see how many of us there were singing and dancing together to celebrate ourselves.

It is a great community to be a part of — a loving one at that — but there are times when it is worrisome to be yourself. Recently, there has been an increase in attacks toward the LGBTQ+ community. These attacks work directly to restrict rights from the community, stripping one’s expression, identity, and sense of safety.

The American Civil Liberties Union has tracked and listed 15 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in Iowa that range from a restriction of expression and identity in healthcare, schools, and general civil rights. All of these bills are categorized as “advancing,” which means they have the chance to be debated and voted on.

One of these bills, House File 8, is meant to prohibit the instruction of gender identities and sexual orientation in both charter schools and school districts. The age range that is included in this prohibition spans from kindergarten to third grade. This bill has the capacity to cause much damage to the greater community.

As a Puerto Rican and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am constantly worried about what could happen next. No matter what someone’s background or sexual orientation is, they deserve to feel a sense of home in their state. The state should ensure an individual’s safety and protection, not making the term home a hazy, unsafe one.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.