In celebration of the fight for liberation of LGBTQ people commemorated in the month of June, we will be sharing stories that show the intersections between the LGBTQ community and undocumented immigrants. This first one is from Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, IYJL organizer, speaking at “Coming Out: Queer and Undocumented.” The event took place on June 07th, 2011 as part of United Latino Pride Week.
My name is ireri. I’m queer and i’m undocumented.
One of my identities, being undocumented, has for a long time been about what i can’t do. I can’t study abroad, i can’t see my baby cousins in Mexico, i can’t get a license to practice medicine, and i can’t stop crying after trying to figure out ways to get around these limitation.
My queer identity, however, has been about construction. About figuring out how to tell that girl i’d lied for three years that i liked her, and not feel frustrated when i couldn’t work up the courage to talk to her at my sister’s party. About figuring out how i want to define who i am regardless of the weird looks i get because of my unshaved legs and armpits.
When i was i high school my parents dropped me off one morning. In the car ride i had been thinking about how i would go to an all boys school to investigate the story i was imagining in my head… I think i may have been watching “Dead Poet Society” the night before… and i stepped outside of the car, saw my reflection on the window and thought “Oh that’s right, i’m a girl.” And for the longest time i thought there was nothing more to it, two genders, with gender norms about looks and heterosexuality, and it wasn’t that appealing. So i just studied and didn’t think of myself as having a body or a sexuality of any kind. Then my sister started to be a part of this show called Homofrecuencia, and i would listen or sometimes go into the studio with her and sit in the corner while the show aired. That’s where i learned what LGBTQ stands for, and that there were way more people remaking themselves into who they wanted to be… Turns out, gender and sexuality are not as formal or rigid as in Saved by the Bell or Baywatch (two of my favorite shows when i was little).
In contrast, immigration laws are pretty rigid, and i didn’t know a community of people i could turn to. It has only been in the last year and a half that i have met other young undocumented people who are just as frustrated as i am and want to change how we feel and break the restrictions society places on us, just like the LGBTQ communities have been doing for years.
I don’t want to be in a state of ambiguity because i can’t get the permit to practice what i want. And i don’t want to cry every time i try to figure out how to do it.
Just like being queer has allowed me to say forget the norms, i want to be able to say forget the laws (immigration laws specifically) and start living. But i can’t. Because unlike being queer, being undocumented is killing the person i want to be.
Luckily, now, we are building a community of undocumented people. And even better, undocumented queer people, and pushing the boundaries of what that means and who we want to be.
I’m queer. I’m undocumented. And i’m out.