Manito Scholarship FUNDRAISER

JUNE 15, 2024 • 6PM- 8PM


Joanna Lucero/Cameron Jesse Manito Scholarship 

This need based scholarship aims to support students whose life experiences have shaped their commitment and advocacy  to the LGBT  communities. Preference is given to students interested in Manito culture of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico and/or those pursuing majors in Humanities and Social Sciences (fields of study that explore human behavior, culture, society, history, language, and more, from various perspectives and methodologies). In loving memory of Cameron Jesse and the Dussart-Lopez-Lucero  Familias, who lived and loved openly.


Charlie’s “Angels” kicks off Pride with tribute to Denver's Historically Gay Families  

 On Sat, June 15th from 6 pm to 8 pm, the “Angels” of Charlie’s will host a benefit to kick-off  Pride in to fundraise for a very unique scholarship the Cameron Jesse Manito Scholarship. Enjoy an evening of delights including the renown dancers of  Charlie’s , Ballet Folklórico Patria Mexicana and Mexica Tribe.

When Cameron Jesse enrolled at MSU Denver in the fall of 2022, the 25-year-old gay transfer student from Colorado Springs, was out to change the world.  He was a staunch advocate for the LGBT students from rural areas that do not have the same support service that occurs in places like Denver. A member of the MSU Denver Journey Through Our Heritage program he was offered the opportunity to collaborate to create a historic first-of-its-kind scholarship. The Manito Scholarship was dedicated to advocates of the LGBT community who had an interest in Southern Colorado’s  Manito culture.

 Cameron once said “ I am a Manito, a descendant of people who have roots going back hundreds of years to the Spanish and indigenous populations in S. Colorado& n. New Mexico. I also know the difficulty of growing up in a conservative town. When I learned there was a family of queers just like me who were out of the closet since the 1940’s I was all in to help  develop this scholarship.” 

 The original inspiration for the scholarship was based on the family of  Joanna Lucero, who are among Denver’s historically opening gay community since the 1940’s. Cameron uncovered through meticulous research Lucero’s interviews with renowned Lesbian archivist Katie Gilmartin. His detailed research set a solid foundation for the scholarship. Tragically Cameron died in Sept. of 2023 before the Manito Scholarships was finalized.

Lucero, who was dying of pancreatic cancer at the time of Cameron’s death, told her family, “That boy, did not get to live his life. I did, me and all my queer aunties and tio’s, we lived a huge life for many years. I want you to rename the scholarship for that young boy so he will be remembered for what he stood for.” And so it was renamed to include and honor Cameron Jesse.

 When Charlie’s management heard about Cameron Jesse and what he was doing to help create this scholarship they were inspired. Not only did they offer to donate their venue and dancers to kick start the scholarship fund, but they also offered access to their staff and other resources to the cause. The head of entertainment, Matty Peters said, “We have always been about giving back to the community and our hearts are touched by what Cameron was trying to do.”

  The short life of this young gay student who aspired to help others celebrate their history and heritage with pride will not be forgotten thanks to Charlie’s and MSU Denver. In March of 2024, the MSU Denver Board of Trustees voted to award a posthumous degree to Cameron Jesse. Over the years Charlie’s in keeping with founder John King’s legacy of giving, they have raised millions of dollars to support numerous charitable causes.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on the event please text 720-329-0869 with questions or email


© Copyright Renee Fajardo