Thursday, October 13, 2011

Queer, Undocumented, and Unafraid

via HuffPost Gay voices, by Julio Salgado

When the topic of gay rights arises, gay marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell are the go-to issues, but for some of us queers in the United States, immigration rights are a top priority.

For two years, undocumented youth have been coming out of the shadows and using their status to empower themselves and bring attention to the Development, Relief and Education for Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act.

The 10-year-old piece of legislation, which has seen its share of watered-down adjustments, would give undocumented youth who came to the United States at a young age a path to citizenship if they go to college or join the military.

There have been sit-ins, hunger strikes and countless calls to lawmakers to stop the deportations of undocumented students who have been in this country most of their lives. Oddly enough, a movement within this movement has surfaced.

You see, a lot of the young people at the forefront of this movement also happen to be gay.

Not only are these students proud to scream, "Undocumented and unafraid," but some have challenged the status quo even further by coming out as queer, undocumented and unafraid.

From 2010's Trail of Dreams, where three undocumented youth and a legal U.S. resident walked from Miami, Fla. to Washington, D.C., to the first-ever civil disobedience at the Tucson, Ariz. office of Sen. John McCain, undocumented gay activists have been key movers and shakers in actions that aim to bring attention to the DREAM Act.

At times, they risk death and deportation.

This was the case when Mohammad Abdollahi, who, along with undocumented students Yahaira Carrillo, Tania Unzueta, Lizbeth Mateo and legal U.S. resident Raul Alcaraz, participated in the Tucson action.

Abdollahi, an undocumented gay student from Iran, risked deportation to a country where homosexuality is punished with death.

Undocumented queer activists Carrillo and Unzueta sat next to Abdollahi, and all three contemplated the possibility of being deported to countries they barely remembered.

Not all students have been openly gay from the beginning. Much like the late civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, some queer undocumented activists were asked to downplay their gay identities for the sake of their role in the movement.

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