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Growing Up Queer, Latino and Undocumented In The South: VIDEO

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A video from Public Interest Projects recorded at least year’s Southeast Immigrant Rights Network conference in Little Rock, AR highlights the struggles faced by young gay men who are undocumented latinos living in the South.  

“Growing up as an undocumented wasn’t easy. I always thought that I was, you know, going to have to either work in construction or be a cashier at a Mexican store where they don’t ask for papers so obviously I was going to have to be the cashier. I really didn't feel that I had a future because of my legal status. I had to find the jobs on the down low and stuff you know. I was embarrassed of being undocumented but that’s because of how society made me think of myself. Me and another friend in school we both were undocumented and we wanted a better future….What Im trying to do right here is to get everyone out of the shadows, get everyone out of the closet, let them know that being undocumented and being unafraid and unashamed is one of the most beautiful things in the world because you love yourself for who you are.”

Check out the candid conversation, AFTER THE JUMP…

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Comments

  1. Don't enter a country illegally and you won't have to feel that way. What a simple solution!

    Posted by: Carmelo | Mar 7, 2014 9:59:58 AM


  2. This is so good. I appreciate the fact that the participants and the video producers are part of what I hope is a growing trend to share the voices of queer, undocumented, folks of color. These are people that are part of my community, advocates for causes important to me, etc. I'm a white gay dude who wants nothing more to be free, voiced, safe, and able to find ways to thrive. I'm not sure how, but I'll work to make sure these folks get to do the same or I'll support their efforts to do the same. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by: JD510 | Mar 7, 2014 11:02:31 AM


  3. You Should be embarrassed to be undocumented.

    Posted by: elwoodl | Mar 7, 2014 12:19:40 PM


  4. I find it highly offensive when LGBT undocumented immigrants, who are already heavily stigmatized in our society, have the Q-word plastered on them. It just intensifies the stigma, and it's an appallingly insensitive thing to do. But there really isn't much sensitivity among RadiQueer activists, is there?

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Mar 7, 2014 12:21:48 PM


  5. What a sad twisting of language. Gay people are not "queer".

    And illegal entry and residence in the United States is a crime. It is not a paperwork issue.
    Therefore, we properly describe guys like the ones in the video as illegal immigrants. Because that description describes the problem - their illegal status here. "Undocumented" is dishonest and misleading, because there are legal residents and citizens of the US who may, at any given time, lack documentation of their status. At the same time, there are illegal aliens who actually possess documents. For example, a person who enters the US on a tourist visa with the intention to overstay the visa is here illegally, even if he currently possesses a valid document.

    So to recap, these guys are growing up as gay, illegal immigrants. Fixed that for you.

    Posted by: Dan | Mar 7, 2014 12:26:59 PM


  6. I know what it's like to grow up, Latino and Gay, but not undocumented and 'queer'.

    Posted by: Ryan | Mar 7, 2014 12:51:17 PM


  7. Just twenty years ago every b*tch on this blog was illegal in many of these united states.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 7, 2014 1:10:25 PM


  8. Lol, usually I have a much easier time coming out as gay to strangers than I do coming out about my undocumented status, as evidenced by the ridiculously insensitive comments on this page.

    Maybe take into consideration that young undocumented immigrants were brought here as children, did not have a choice in coming to the U.S. illegaly, and have grown up and been raised alongside "real" Americans.

    We have made friends in the U.S., we have formed meaningful relationships in the U.S., we have aspirations for a career just like everyone else. And guess what: we're harmless! Honest! We're not some sort of alien boogeyman takin' yer jerbs. And let me debunk a myth: We pay taxes!(For those of us lucky to have a work permit or find work under the table)

    Also, stop arguing about the semantics of illegal vs undocumented. Don't be disingenuous, you KNOW there is a stigma attached to the word illegal. I'm not gonna apologize if my existence is a crime. I'm 99% sure I'm more of a "model citizen" than any of you xenophobes.

    I find gay issues important (or I wouldn't be checking this blog), and I understand that LGBTQs are still treated as 2nd-class citizens, but as it stands LGBTQ undocumented youth can't even *be* citizens let alone 2nd-class.

    "Don't enter the country illegaly! Get in line! What a simple solution! Haha!

    We just want a path to citizenship that is *fair* and *humane*. Everytime someone says "GET IN LINE!" it means: leaving the country you spent your entire childhood and teen years in, being separated from loved ones, going to a foreign country where you have a language barrier and potentially more hostile attitudes towards gays, and staying there for multiple decades until you finally get your U.S. "citizenship" at age 60 because the line is way too friggin' long and the entire immigration system is BROKEN.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Mar 7, 2014 1:58:31 PM


  9. My problem with illegals is that some refuse to learn English, establish their own communities, look down upon the blacks whose communities they have "over populated", refuse to understand that there are LAWS in this country in reference to driving and the legal age of sexual consent. How can you complain about doing something that is "Illegal?" In California, Hispanic students took the American flag and placed it upside down beneath the Mexican flag and absolutely nothing was done about this? Now if African American children had did this same thing there would have been a much different outcome. It's about respecting this country and it's inhabitants. How can you want to be here yet fly the flag of another country? And what happens in Mexico when people attempt to fly the flag of other countries? People are upset about the blatant lack of respect for the most part. Did you know that English as a second language courses are FREE! Yet in order to learn Spanish, you have to PAY. How is that fair?

    Posted by: FYou | Mar 7, 2014 2:10:57 PM


  10. ILLEGAL not undocumented, but ILLEGAL immigrant. Period.

    Posted by: Ring World | Mar 7, 2014 2:54:49 PM


  11. Sorry, not interested in reading an article where the title is so pretentious. Queer is an insulting term adopted by self hating LGBT who love to segregate themselves and be RADICAL and militant. Stop labeling all LGBT queer. It's insulting to many of us. And sounds pathetic.

    Posted by: Junior | Mar 7, 2014 2:57:05 PM


  12. Undocumented should read illegal and labeling oneself as queer is just laughable.

    Posted by: Kodoniios | Mar 7, 2014 2:57:32 PM


  13. I mean this with respect but with biting truth, having been raised in California my whole life. illegal gays of Hispanic heritage often adopt very anti gay beliefs and are often socially conservative and will tell you this, having often come from very conservative backgrounds. the illegal immigrant community is often THE MOST conservative of their respective nations when they migrate here. It's very hurtful to the progressive movement when so many of these folks are very conservative and evangelical.

    Posted by: Fiat | Mar 7, 2014 3:01:37 PM


  14. @FYOU

    Why does it bother you if we learn English or not? Why are you policing what languages we choose to speak? There is no law that says you must speak English fluently to live in America. In fact, there is no official language in the U.S. and government and health services have an obligation to provide information to you in ANY language you request *by law*
    It is NOT illegal to not speak English.

    Why do you make sweeping generalizations about our attitudes towards blacks? Do you honestly believe undocumented immigrants are the biggest source of anti-black rhetoric and bigotry in the U.S? I didn't know we owned Fox news. On that note, if not being racially bigoted was a requirement for citizenship, then a LOT of Americans would fail miserably. Your statement also conveniently ignores black undocumented immigrants.

    Driving laws get circumvented because the path to get a license is BLOCKED to the undocumented. Do *you* understand how arbitrary that is?!? Is Lindsay Lohan a naturally better driver just because she happens to be a U.S. citizen? Some states are finding this to be a problem so they are considering allowing the undocumented to get licenses so they have better access to information about road safety.

    How did a bunch of kids pulling a prank suddenly become the REPRESENTATIVES FOR THEIR ENTIRE RACE. You're not looking deep enough into how racism operates. What different outcomes exactly would happen if black kids did the same thing? You're still claiming that one group of black kids speak for the entirety of blacks everywhere. Do we hold this standard for white kids? Please go brush up on Racism 101.

    Pride for another country does not automatically exclude pride for the U.S. If I celebrate Cinco de Mayo does that mean I can't celebrate the 4th of July? I can't celebrate Chinese New Year if I already celebrated the "regular" New Year?

    What exactly are we "disrespecting" other than arbitrary, exclusionary, and *broken* policies? This entire BLOG "disrespects" laws that oppress the LGBTQ community. Does that mean we should deport them too?

    ESL courses are free because it is the de facto (but not official) language of the U.S. Are you seriously suggesting that a non-English speaker be required to PAY just to learn the most commonly spoken (and therefore most convenient) language in the U.S? That is the epitome of gatekeeping. For the record, here in Los Angeles there are plenty of free Spanish classes because it is again, a language of *convenience*.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Mar 7, 2014 3:11:39 PM


  15. @Fiat

    Then certainly you must understand that gay undocumented youth like myself and in the video are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    We cannot just take sides and be anti-gay or anti-immigrant.

    What exactly are you suggesting? That we deny citizenship to the undocumented so that they can't hinder the LGBTQ movement? Am I just going to be a necessary casualty for "gay rights" then? Have fun with your equality I guess while I sit in legal status limbo.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Mar 7, 2014 3:23:43 PM


  16. And for those who keep insisting on ILLEGAL over UNDOCUMENTED:

    Preferring "undocumented" over "illegal" is akin to preferring "gay" over "homosexual"

    Words have connotations. "Gay" is more inclusive and humanizing than "homosexual" which is clinical and makes us sound like some science lab specimen. Personally, it irks me when people refer to us as "the homosexuals".

    "Homosexual" is a *technically* correct term much like "illegal immigrant". But we're not trying to get a technicality cookie here, we're trying to portray ourselves as human beings because that's what we *are*. Remember that next time you pat yourself in the back for using the "technically correct" term.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Mar 7, 2014 3:41:50 PM


  17. Unicorn, care to address all the homophobia and transphobia within the latin gay community. Latino men I've encountered, especially undocumented, have been the most intolerant of my being trans and the innate femininity that comes with that. Unhealthy attachment to machismo culture is an issue that indeed plagues even gay latinos. But let's not discuss it because it makes you uncomfortable.

    Posted by: Cindy | Mar 7, 2014 3:50:11 PM


  18. Depressing comments. This is about "growing up" gay and undocumented. Why all the judgement and stigma attacking people who were brought here by their parents?

    The lack of compassion and empathy is appalling.

    Posted by: Josh | Mar 7, 2014 5:32:09 PM


  19. Unicorn, as was stated above, the reason this is an issue for debate is because of the illegality of entry and the illegality of continued presence within the US. If the illegal status is the issue, then we should be able to refer without apology to illegal immigration and illegal immigrants.

    As noted above, there are legal immigrants and natural born citizens who lack documentation and are undocumented. And there are illegal immigrants who have documentation. So using "undocumented" as a substitute for illegal immigrant is simply inaccurate.

    You want people to deliberately choose less accurate and more evasive language in order to make you feel less stigmatized. Sorry, but your feelings don't trump accuracy. And I want to stigmatize law breaking. I don't want to soft pedal it or pretend that illegal immigration is sort of clerical error, as if someone just forgot to file a form in triplicate.

    I realize that this situation is tough for people who were brought here as children. But the blame lies with the parents who involved their kids in a criminal activity. The blame doesn't lie with the US and it is not the US's responsibility to cushion you from the consequences of your parents' bad decisions. Also, as an adult, you are not blameless. Entering illegally is one crime. Staying illegally is a separate crime. While you may not have had any say in entering, you have made an adult decision to stay and violate the law. That violation is not something that happened years ago. It is something you are choosing to do today. Despite your pontificating, you are not "model citizen." You are in fact not a citizen, and someone who makes a conscious decision to break the law on a daily basis is not the model we should have for those who wish to become citizens.

    Posted by: Dan | Mar 7, 2014 6:08:22 PM


  20. "Why all the judgment and stigma attacking people who were brought here by their parents?"

    Oh, boo-hoo. Poor innocent little things.

    Send them all home; they are ruining this country and nobody wants them here, gay or not.

    That should be enough of an incentive for them to leave of their own accord, because they are never going to have our sympathy--NEVER.

    Posted by: Rick | Mar 7, 2014 7:34:24 PM


  21. @Cindy
    Yes, suffocating patriarchal values are a problem across many cultures. What exactly is your point though? Is anti-gay sentiment grounds to disqualify citizenship? Is it justified to deny citizenship to gay undocumented youth because of the values of other immigrants?

    @Dan
    Do you seriously go through life taking law at face value? You never question how absurd or arbitrary it can be sometimes? Because the crime you are accusing me of amounts to this: I'm blinking and breathing and circulating my blood in a specific set of coordinates that falls within the U.S. which I wasn't born in.
    WHAT A HORRIBLE VIOLATION OF THE LAW. THROW ME OUT I'M A DANGER TO SOCIETY.

    What exactly are you doing at a gay blog if you blindly follow the law without examining if it's problematic? I guess we should have never questioned DOMA, DADT, etc.
    If the U.S. passed an anti-gay bill like Uganda would you urge gays to line up and make the "adult decision" to turn themselves in? IT'S THE LAW.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Mar 7, 2014 8:23:48 PM


  22. So now you are arguing that immigration law itself is absurd and arbitrary? Good luck with that argument. BTW, your "I'm just blinking at a certain point in space" argument, if accepted, would not only destroy immigration law in toto, but it would also end the concept of private real property, giving you access to everyone's homes too. After all, you are still you; you are just breathing and blinking in some structure. How arbitrary to exclude you from any particular structure!

    Well, if it is absurd and arbitrary, then it is a vast coincidence that the very same absurd and arbitrary distinctions between citizens, legal residents, and illegal residents exists in the law of every single state in the world. You can just show up and decide to spend a lifetime breathing and blinking in Costa Rica, in Paraguay, in Vietnam, in South Africa or in Albania. They will throw you out. Why do you think that you can get away here with what you couldn't get away with anywhere else?

    The bottom line is that states have the right to decide who comes here and who lives here. You don't have that right to decide for the US.

    Posted by: Dan | Mar 7, 2014 10:11:03 PM


  23. Derrick, your comment is irrelevant. As American citizens we have always been entitled to equal treatment under the law as gay people. Illegal aliens are NOT entitled to American citizenship or residency. It is illegal for them to be here, it is illegal for them to work, and it's illegal for the President to declare that he will not enforce immigration laws.

    I can feel compassion for these illegal aliens without agreeing with them that they have some sort of "right" to be here owing to longevity or the circumstances under which they were brought here. Negroes were brought here as slaves. We should have sent them back to Africa after the War, but we didn't and so it was right and correct to make them citizens. That's what the 14th Amendment was designed to do: make negro slaves citizens. It was not intended to confer citizenship on the children of illegal aliens.

    Posted by: enchantra | Mar 8, 2014 12:07:17 AM


  24. @Dan
    I can "get away" with staying here because I've been accepted under DACA, which grants me relief from removal proceedings. Incidentally, one of the criteria for being eligible for DACA is that I "do not present a risk to national security or public safety". Prior to DACA, I was also petitioned under my parents via section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality act, which allows me and my parents to stay in line for permanent residence even though they -gasp!- overstayed their VISA illegally. So I think it's safe to say that the U.S. is a-ok with letting me and my parents stay here.


    @Enchantra
    Are you implying that the correct course of action is to deport everyone who entered illegally? That is a logistical nightmare. The Obama administration has already deported record numbers and it hasn't even scratched the surface. That's not even taking ethical issues into consideration (like forcefully separating parents from their children).

    Your 14th amendment stuff is totally irrelevant but I'll bite: The U.S. was literally built on the backs of slaves. To state that they "should" have been shipped back to Africa is like saying they have no right to live in the house they built.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Mar 8, 2014 7:06:54 AM


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