After growing up as a first-generation Latino in the Denver metro area, Jesus H. Lucero ’16 spent his first year at Luther really learning about himself. “I leaned into my different identities and tried to find community in those spaces,” he says. He joined PRIDE, and it was a powerful experience because of the leaders he saw, like Charles Banta ’13, who was president of PRIDE and of Student Senate. Seeing this, Lucero says, was inspirational. “I realized I could be my full authentic self and represent people.”
Taking this inspiration to heart, Lucero amped up his involvement at Luther. By the time he graduated, he’d held the PRIDE presidency for two years and the Student Senate presidency his senior year. He’d been an RA for two years and assistant hall director for a year and was the 2016 winner of the Jenson Medal. “My time at Luther was a great opportunity to develop my own sense of self and leadership,” he says.
At Luther, Lucero developed a special interest in co-ops, and he graduated with a job offer already in hand as director of membership and engagement for the USA Cooperative Youth Council (USACYC). “I wanted to continue on that path of trying to create a better and more just world. So the co-op realm is where I funneled a lot of my energy and time,” he says. He published articles, gave presentations and workshops, developed curriculum, hosted a USDA webinar on youth in the co-op movement, and was recognized as a leading youth in the American co-op movement. “As an immigrant Latinx queer person,” he says, “there aren’t a lot of representations of people who look like me in the world. I want to continue to demonstrate that people can look like me, be different, and still be powerful leaders.”
After wrapping up his time with USACYC, Lucero worked in a life-skills training program for adults with autism. The job taught him a lot about the medical system in Minnesota and the bureaucracy families have to wade through to get support. “It also opened my eyes to the experiences that people face when you can’t choose to hide your differences,” he says. “It made me want to do more. And that’s how I stepped into my role at OutFront Minnesota.”
OutFront works toward equal opportunities, protections, and rights for LGBTQ individuals in the state of Minnesota. In his role as policy and organizing coordinator, Lucero focuses on local organizations and faith communities by holding workshops, presentations, and roundtables on everything from basic terminology to implementing inclusion. “For me,” he says, “what’s really invigorating is creating a space where people can come together and connect with each other. We need more and more of these spaces. Especially because not every faith is going to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. Not every rural community is going to have the resources to make things just.”
He also meets with legislators and lobbies senators to make sure they’re keeping the interests of all people in mind. “I’ve turned into such a policy nerd—it’s a passion of mine. I love studying law and looking at how we can effect massive change from a grassroots level,” he says. “At the end of the day, my goal is to work myself out of a job.”
While it’s an ambitious aim, Lucero continues to work toward equity for all citizens with gratitude for every step along the way. “It’s been a fantastic journey,” he reflects, “starting at Luther, being dropped into a beautiful campus and figuring out who I was there, then taking that into the larger world.”