Sometimes, I feel excluded even within the LGBTQ community. I remember the gay clubs in West Hollywood that would deny my friends and I entrance because of our Mexican matriculation. And I remember the faces they would give me, one of confusion and then of disgust that seemed to be thinking: “Mexican, Illegal, Fake.”
How are we fighting for acceptance in the LGBTQ community when many do not accept their queer brothers and sisters who are also oppressed as undocumented immigrants? It was a night like this when I decided to go to the one club in downtown Los Angeles where queer, undocumented, heterosexuals, drag queens and artists are welcome: Mustache Mondays. That night changed my life completely because I met Nicolas Gonzales.
It was a week after my birthday when we finally went out for lunch. He pulled a plastic bag from his backpack with 4 hard shell tacos and condiments, homemade Serrano spicy sauce, sour cream and Oaxacan cheese. He had already conquered my heart.
But what happens when two undocumented queers fall in love with each other?
What followed was not only a new kind of empowerment for myself, but a new commitment to my community.
I decided to come out of the shadows on January 24th, 2012 by taking part in an act of civil disobedience in protest of anti-immigrant laws in San Bernardino County. I was arrested and taken to a detention center. I was asked to confirm if I was a homosexual and was segregated from the other arrested protesters on the assumption that I had AIDS. Being in detention for only a few hours reinforced my decision to continue working for immigrant’s rights. I have never felt so moved to stand up for something that I had always been proud about: Being undocumented.
I joined the Campaign for an American DREAM as a guest walker to bring a message of hope and inclusively to LGBTQ members within the immigrant rights movement. Currently, my partner Nicolas and I are walking from San Francisco to Washington D.C. in order to raise awareness and urgency for passage of the federal DREAM Act.
My struggle and voice as an undocumented Latino gay man hopes to bring together not only my LGBTQ community of color but to show how crucial it is for both movements to accept the fact that LGBTQ issues are irrefutable immigrant rights issues. Alone, we’re vulnerable. Together, we are stronger. To ostracize one from another is something we can no longer afford to do.
I decided to leave everything behind to support the person I am in love with. Just like my mother and father had the courage to bring me to this country. Thanks to my partner, I saved myself from living in the shadows.