Xelestiál is a fierce community organizer, photographer, poet, and cinematographer who uses her multidisciplinary art to uplift and strengthen solidarity networks that highlight LGBTQIA+ communities of color. She currently works as a program manager at REACH LA, where she serves LGBTQIA+ people through arts, wellness, personal development, and social enterprise.
Xelestiál is a trans-Latina, of Mexican and Salvadoran roots, who grew up in South East and South Central Los Angeles. She has a beautiful relationship with South Central and rather than focus on the negative aspects of the community, she sees it as a place of innovators and problem-solvers who get things done in order to survive. This same South Central grit is what drives Xelestiál, who wasn't always the confident woman that she is today, to push through adversity. As a young person, she felt that she had no other choice but to assert herself to be seen, despite the world’s attempts to deny her worth. After a turbulent youth of bouncing from school to school and grappling with her own identity, Xelestiál graduated high school and decided to pursue higher education.
Xelestiál invested her energy on self-discovery and freely explored her many interests, blossoming into a leader and multidisciplinary artist in community college. Through her involvement with various advocacy organizations, she discovered how to use her different art mediums to amplify the social justice campaigns that she was involved with. By the time that Xelestiál transferred to UC San Diego, where she graduated with honors in Media, she had gained clarity as an artist and was thus able to create specific opportunities to meet her needs. As a student, she studied abroad in Colombia and Mexico where she made documentary films on the lives of trans people in those communities. One of her most recent short films, Care, Grief, and Pandemia-Queer and Trans Affections on Film, focuses on Trans and queer affection during the pandemic. Her photography and cinematography weave the discourse of how the intersections of anti-blackness, transphobia, and misogyny work against queer and transgender communities.
Today Xelestiál feels privileged to be at an organization that allows her to merge art and advocacy to address the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community in a holistic way. Her priorities are to move conversations beyond gender identity to address fundamental human rights that lead to financial security, health access, and overall wellness. Xelestiál’s message to other women of color is, "Show up as your full self because you have nothing else to lose."