What Having DACA Means For Me as a Queer Latinx
Coming Out Twice: Being Latinx, Undocumented, and Queer
I'm currently writing a script for a feature film I'm working on and the last line I've written is the quote: "Where there is life, there is also the end of it." I'm putting everything I know about life in this script. Being a Latina lesbian woman working as a poet and filmmaker, and desperately trying to find meaning in life despite it all, has made me realize that life really can change in an instant. And any young immigrant woman who grew up in a country forcing them to assimilate can tell you that.
Any queer child of immigrants can tell you that coming out twice as undocumented and then as queer is one of the hardest things you can do. Not only do you put yourself at risk in the world, but you can also put yourself at risk in your own family.
Any person who has struggled with their queer identity while staring at walls that hang crosses and bible verses our parents loved and upheld can tell you that. Any queer child of immigrants can tell you that coming out twice as undocumented and then as queer is one of the hardest things you can do. Not only do you put yourself at risk in the world, but you can also put yourself at risk in your own family. There are undocumented folks around our country who are here because they were part of the LGBTQIA+ community and home was no longer home. It was no longer a safe space for them to merely exist.
I'm originally from Acapulco, Mexico, a town where American tourists have invaded our oceans for years and the beautiful Mexican people de mi corazón (of my heart) fight to survive every day. I remember my early years in America: I used to carry a magnitude of anxieties and worries because I was undocumented. Then in 2012, I got DACA and my entire life changed — until the guilt and the anger that my parents couldn't have the same opportunities took over.
When I was younger and realized my queerness, I used to lay in bed a lot and just cry. I knew deep down that someday I would have to sit my traditional Mexican parents down and tell them what I had so desperately tried to pray away and hide for my entire life. I was 21 when I told them, and it didn't go well. There were so many cons for them, and they were cautious of what the world would say and what the world would do.
My immigrant parents had filled me with the hope that I could be anything in this world if I set my mind to it. That I could be anything and everything. I could be anything— except gay. And while I wished back then that I could tell them I would be OK and that they didn't have to worry, I couldn't. Especially since this was around the time of the shooting at Pulse, where Latinx gay people were going to nightclubs with the intentions of simply having a good night and would never see another night again.
I can't tell them I'll be OK when my city still has a contract with ICE and CBP, and I can't tell them I'll be OK when I still get asked about my citizenship when I get pulled over by police. I can win all of the awards and get all of the promotions, and not a single detail of that will matter to someone with an AR-15 that despises either immigrants, LGBT+ folks, or sometimes even both.
I can't assure anybody anymore that I will be able to stay in this country past the two years that my DACA affords me to stay to work. And because I'm gay, I can't assure anyone that I'll be here tomorrow.
I turned 25 this year. I celebrated with my friends and chosen family, and I have a gift waiting at home for when I go see my parents next. I can't assure anybody anymore that I will be able to stay in this country past the two years that my DACA affords me to stay to work. And because I'm gay, I can't assure anyone that I'll be here tomorrow.
All we can do is simply hold onto the moments we have now, the people we love, and remember that just like our parents were able to create a life and survive through numerous obstacles so that we could be here today, we have to keep going. We have to hope that our elected officials remember us when they're signing those bills. We must continue to fight and we must continue to survive. Our dreams, regardless of how difficult they may be, will never die as long as we are here. And we are here to stay.