BC SAGA Club hosts latest installment of “My Rainbow Road” Series”


Brisa Flores / The BC RIP

Guest speaker, Philip Castro (center) during “My Rainbow Road” series event.

Brisa Flores, Reporter

Bakersfield College Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA club) held another event as part of their “My Rainbow Road” series on April 21.

The evening’s guest speaker was Philip Castro, who uses he/him pronouns, shared his story; Castro is an LGBTQA+, HIV/Aids advocate for the homeless, and former BC student.

Castro was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA, “I’ve had feelings of wanting to escape as every person in Bakersfield wants the feeling of getting out,” said Castro. He added that when he got into advocacy, he realized he needed to stay here.

Castro shared that growing up, he had to hide things he liked and enjoyed and only present himself at a surface level.

“How can I define myself if I had no idea,” said Castro while he shared his experience when he first entered high school. Castro started high school at Frontier High School here in Bakersfield and then transferred to West High School, located in Bakersfield.

After transferring to West High, Castro shared he felt welcomed because there were people that looked like him.

“I met a very strong-willed lesbian in that class. She helped me develop and embrace my rainbow path,” he added.

Castro then shared his experience when he joined the ROTC program at West High. He said that first joining, he thought it was a mistake at first, “It was one of the queerest things I’ve ever done because all the gay kids were in there.”

“I never imagined that a couple of years later, I would be leading my class,” said Castro on how ROTC impacted him.

When graduating high school rolled around, Castro was unsure what he wanted to do after leaving high school. He tried going the military route but pulled out because it was not for him.

Castro then spoke about how he got into his work of advocating for HIV/Aids. He attended his first pride festival here in Bakersfield and stumbled upon the Bakersfield Aids Project booth in 2011.

Castro said he never heard people talk so openly about HIV or Aids before walking up to the booth, “Having someone so open, and so honest and not afraid to show emotions in front of everybody and share her story. I was very touched.”

After first volunteering for the Bakersfield Aids Project, Castro continued to work for them.

Castro shared that once joining the Bakersfield Aids Project, he gained a small platform and has given speeches at events.

He then went on to talk about how he started working for the homeless shelter in Bakersfield.

“It’s not as scary as you think. Homelessness is a big issue here. My patients are the best.” he said.

He talked about how the Bakersfield Aids Project created a syringe exchange program called The Exchange, where they hand out harm prevention kits, tax alone, and other resources for homeless people.

“It is not a person’s choice to be homeless,” he added. Castro said issues such as mental illness, losing a loved one, and not having income to pay for a roof over their heads are why some people are homeless.

The webinar ended with a short Q&A session.