Connect
To Top

Hidden Gems: Meet Karel Dimalanta of Logan Pride Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karel Dimalanta.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My story starts in the Philippines.

My parents were college sweethearts and emigrated from the Philippines in the late 80s after the then-president (dictator, really) was overthrown. The political climate was unsure, and my parents wanted a better life. They were both college-educated and spoke English fluently, and they were prepared to leave everything they were familiar with to achieve the American Dream.

I was born in NYC in the early 90s as an American citizen, with my younger sister born in CA two years later and my youngest brother born in Guam a few years later. My parents worked hard for everything we had and stressed the importance of education from a very young age. We moved a lot with my father being in the military, and I moved to Utah to go to Utah State University.

Education has been at the forefront of my life since I was little. I would play “classroom” with my siblings and was always the teacher. I became a special education resource teacher right out of college here in Cache Valley. I mainly taught elementary 4th-6th grade and did a little bit of secondary.

It was my dream job! I loved my students and the staff of paraeducators that I had put together – we were a fantastic team! The stress of the pandemic and the policies thrown onto us was too much, however. I left teaching after the 2020-2021 school year and became a work-from-home curriculum designer. I still miss the classroom and tutor on the side to get that teaching fix!

On the plus side, my current job has allowed me the time to dive into the volunteer work I had started in my last year of teaching. I volunteered at Logan Pride as a tutor for secondary students and worked my way up to being a board member.

Back then, I was not “out” yet and didn’t realize how exhausting it was to hide such an essential part of myself from friends, family, and coworkers. I was afraid of losing my job where I worked in a very conservative area, and I was also scared of how people would treat me if I were out as a queer educator.

Now, I try my best to change this way of thinking within my community by bringing folks together at the Logan Pride House and local events around the valley. I also helped create the Northern Utah Reproductive Rights Collective to help people in rural areas find access to abortion care.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has most definitely not been a smooth road. When you grow up as a person of color in predominantly white areas, you always feel like you have to prove yourself. I was taught from a young age that I would always have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition.

My work ethic is something that I’m proud of, but people don’t understand that it stems from how systemic racism has impacted my life. The road seems like it has been smooth from their point of view, but they don’t see the work that it took to make it that way.

Here in Cache Valley, there aren’t very many people of color who are also LGBTQIA+, and it’s hard being the voice for folks who are afraid to speak because of the area that we live in. It can sometimes be a lot to handle, but someone has to do it!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Logan Pride Foundation?
Logan Pride Foundation is a local nonprofit organization that strives to build a healthy and thriving LGBTQIA+ community by providing a safe space, education, resources, and outreach. We are known for being a local community center for LGBTQIA+ adults and for our annual Logan Pride Festival every September.

We had a very long hiatus in 2020, and I’m most proud of our work to bring the organization back to life. It was a fantastic feeling to have people coming back to the House for group activities, and I love seeing how much everyone helps take care of each other.

You can check out our events at loganpride.org, or if you are interested in volunteering, you can go to linktr.ee/loganpride to see our available opportunities.

What matters most to you? Why?
My community matters most. If I can make a difference in just one person’s life, that keeps me going. That was true when I was a special educator and is still true in my work at Logan Pride and everything else I have been involved in. I want to help everyone I meet to see their potential and make our community a great place to live.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ty Hildt and Channae Haller

Suggest a Story: VoyageUtah is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories