• Edward Gutierrez

How toxic masculinity led me to Oregon

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

How did this California native become a transplant in Oregon?

I’ve asked myself that very same question many times. The answer is not simple.

My parents are Salvadoran immigrants who arrived to the U.S. and settled in Southern California; thus, a macro level response would include mention of the Salvadoran civil war (one of the last proxy battles of the cold war superpowers), poverty and survival which led the Central American diaspora’s arrival to the U.S. in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

On a micro level: love, reunion, growth, perseverance, economic necessity and the desire to improve one’s own condition allow for a much more personal answer. In creating this personal post, I hope to reflect on my journey as a California born son of immigrants, who now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Family Portrait taken in Solvang, CA.

Growing Pains

My adolescence was difficult. My older brother and I attended a public high school in downtown Los Angeles named Belmont High School. There, a majority of the student body were youth of color, mostly Latinos and Filipinos unable to deal with traumas of the mind, body, and spirit.

My brother was able to graduate. I didn't. After his graduation, without him on campus, my grades and attendance dipped due to smoking marijuana, ditch parties, and chronic absenteeism. Ultimately, dropping out of high school at the age of 16 and going to work entry level plumbing sobered me up.

Fortunately, in 2002 - during a vacation in Boardman, Oregon - I met a faculty member of the OSU 4-H Extension Service who described a GED program housed at the University of Oregon. Thanks to that chance encounter, and after a 10 week course of study in Eugene, I was able to obtain my GED diploma. After 10 weeks in the Pacific Northwest, the mental process of leaving California to attend college in Oregon had begun.

During my time at the University of Oregon, I was able to renew my passion for learning. The U of O campus was the perfect break from the toxic environment of instant gratification - fast money, chasing the opposite sex, and hyper masculine competition - this abounded (and still does) in Los Angeles. After all, gang violence is toxic masculinity’s runaway train. Surprisingly, the transformation from high school drop-out to university graduate had commenced and would be complete within 7 years.

Edward's Personal Timeline

1984 -- Edward’s Birth – @ County/USC Hospital, East Los Angeles

1984 Notable event: Los Angeles, CA is Host City of 1984 Olympic Games

1992 -- Edward’s First Communion at St. Thomas Apostle Church in West L.A.’s Pico-Union neighborhood

1992 -- Notable events:

  • Los Angeles Riots caused an estimated $1 billion dollars in damage, 3,767 buildings were burned, 60 people were killed.

  • Los Angeles County Registered 803 Gang Related Homicides – doubling the number of homicides from 5 years earlier.

1997 -- Edward Graduates 8th Grade

1997 -- Notable Events:

  • In the case of the People ex rel Gallo v Carlos Acuna, the Supreme Court of California upheld the constitutionality of Gang Injunctions meant to reduce gang related crime.

  • 452 Gang related homicides were reported that year

2001 -- Edward drops out of high school at the age of 16 after a brawl at Fairfax H.S. He would not return to public education in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

2001 -- Notable event: 587 gang related homicides are registered signaling a resurgence in gang related crime in L.A. County

2003 -- Edward, facing gang encounters on a day-to-day basis, leaves Los Angeles and travels to Eugene, Oregon. He obtains his GED at the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) at the University of Oregon. He graduates with honors and a special seal from the State of Oregon for outstanding test scores.

2004 -- Edward receives the highly competitive Ford Family Foundation Scholarship effectively paying 90% of the cost of his educational and living expenses at Oregon State University.

2008 -- Edward Graduates from Portland State University and begins working in the Portland area by assisting minority renter’s transition into first time home-ownership.

2015 -- Edward began writing intently for communications purposes, though his first published work was an opinion editorial in the Oregon State University newspaper in 2006.

2018 -- Notable accomplishment:

Today, Written Pros is the vehicle to help the world get to know Edward and his work, which consists of both creative writing and communications marketing projects.

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