“Queer Erasure” within Renton WA Local Government Exposed on TikTok

A City Council member for Renton, Washington took to TikTok claiming that the local government within Renton actively took part in queer erasure.

Over the last few weeks the official Facebook page for the city of Renton, Washington released videos of each member of the city council being sworn-in.

All but one member had a brief description of their history. Carmen Rivera, who was sworn-in on November 30, 2021, did not have a description of who she is and the records she broke when she became elected.

Rivera took to TikTok to express her concerns on how the city handled her swearing in.

@RiveraForRenton/TikTok

In her video she says that she did not see anyone like her having representation.

“Growing up I never saw openly gay or queer feminine women, let alone Latinas. Because of that, I believe my coming out was delayed because I never saw that it was possible. I didn’t have that representation growing up and that’s why I think representation and diversity is so important.”

@RiveraForRenton/TikTok

Which upset her when Renton’s local government did not include any information about her in all their social media posts.

“I was really hurt and disappointed in the City of Renton’s social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – about the swearing in of the newly elected officials.”

@RiveraForRenton/TikTok

Rivera shows her viewers a screenshot of their announcement of Council-member Ruth Perez being sworn-in.

The announcement video is captions saying that Perez was the first Mexican-American and immigrant elected to the Renton City Council and was being sworn-in for the third time. They mentioned that she was sworn-in in both English and Spanish.

Rivera says that she thinks the post was beautiful.

She then shows a screenshot of the announcement of James Alberson swearing-in.

The Facebook post lets viewers know that Alberson has resided in Renton for the past 24 years. They also acknowledge that he is the owner and principal of Top Tier Training and Development. Within the post it also lets viewers know that Alberson was a board member for the Chamber of Commerce for nine-years. They also go over his education and family.

Rivera says that the post was amazing.

She then shows a screenshot of her swearing-in, which held no personal information about her.

“Very short and sweet, nothing detailed,” Rivera said.

What the city forgot to mention was that Rivera is: the first openly queer or gay person to serve on Renton City Council, the first Boricua, the second youngest woman to ever be elected to the council, the youngest Latina to ever be elected, and the youngest person serving on the council – at the age of 32.

“It’s sad and disappointing because I broke multiple glass ceilings to get where I am and I was not given the same opportunity to share my accomplishments. This opportunity wasn’t just taken away from me, it was taken away from the entire queer community, because representation does matter.”

@RiveraForRenton/TikTok

Rivera attending Renton public schools and graduated from Lindbergh High School. She then attending Seattle University. She graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice, departmental honors, and received double minors in Spanish and Psychology. After graduating she attended the University of Liverpool in England where she earned her Masters in Science in the Psychology of Investigation.

After living abroad, she returned back to the Pacific Northwest. She took on the job of being a counselor in an intensive management unit at Echo Glen Children’s Center.

She is also, “the youngest Juvenile Rehabilitation Coordinator in Washington State, where she supported transition services, advocated for residents, and helped spearhead LGBTQ youth programming on campus,” according to Renton’s official government website.

Rivera is a full time instructor for Seattle University’s Department, while she continues her work on the Renton City Council.

She uses her free time to actively volunteer when she is not spending time with her partner and fur babies.

Rivera is a volunteer representative for the Washington Commission on Hispanic Affairs for the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force, and Vice President of the Board for Seattle Pride.

She is an accomplice to the Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter movements.

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