Celebrate Our Demands: Acting in Solidarity with LGBTQ Immigrants Beyond Pride Month

Jun
24
2021

Written by Anna Castro (Manager, SolidarityIs)

I attended my first Pride event during my junior year of high school. I told my mother I was visiting museums in Downtown Los Angeles when I had actually sneaked out to meet up with friends in West Hollywood, California to watch the parade. Watching Black and brown people gather en masse to celebrate being a part of the LGBTQ community triggered a lot of emotions for me, but at that time what most urgently rang through was hope. I’d grown up in an extremely religious household with two immigrant parents who had a hard enough time understanding their fiercely independent American child. The world that I wanted to live in was one in which everyone received dignity, care, and respect no matter what. Pride was a glimpse into what it could look like. 

Over the years, as I have charted a journey in social change work, my vision of solidarity is inspired by the struggle for liberation and the expression of joy that I continue to find in queer and trans communities. This year, Pride Month is coupled with other symbolic markers. June is also Immigrant Heritage Month, and due to recently passed legislation, Juneteenth is a federal holiday. To turn symbolic commemorations into actual systems and policy change, we must have a vision and practice of co-liberation. How can the triad of markers this month propel us towards a vision of co-liberation? How do we uplift and advocate for the demands of people affected by different systems of oppression? For those of us navigating these shared histories and lived experiences beyond June, can we celebrate and make space to grieve what was taken from us? 

I asked Jorge Gutierrez, executive director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, these questions on the upcoming episode of the Solidarity Is This podcast. Jorge brought home the idea of co-liberation when he said: “We can’t have Pride when we have folks who are in detention.” That’s why Jorge and Familia are part of the End Trans Detention Campaign. This week, along with Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, Transgender Law Center, Mijente, and several other LGBTQ and Latinx organizations, they took their demands to Washington, D.C. Their direct action included “a service honoring and mourning the deaths of several trans people who died due to ICE [Immigration & Customs Enforcement] negligence.”

As a disruptor and undocumented youth organizer turned executive director, Jorge and a few others created a campaign where the complexity of being an immigrant and part of the LGBTQ community was celebrated and the demands of trans people would be centered. Through the End Trans Detention Campaign, they are making an important intervention in the narrative around immigration in the United States as well as within the broader immigrant rights movement. Jorge goes on, “We’re not monolithic when we’re talking about immigrant communities in the U.S. There are black immigrants, LGBT folks, disabled folks, single parents who are being detained, young people.”

Jorge also brought up the importance of fighting for liberation for all. Because most communities are not a monolith, the public victory of one part of the community should not stop the push to uplift all members of the community. He noted: “If the visibility is not making the door wider for more people to come through and be able to have their lives be dignified and respected and everything that comes with that, then I don’t know what kind of purpose that visibility really does for anybody.”

In our podcast interview, I closed out the episode by asking Jorge to imagine in his ideal world, what the immigration system in the United States would look like. I asked him to think beyond the scope of legislation, beyond the framework of citizenship, what it would feel like for an LGBTQ immigrant to navigate this system. I am excited to share more of his wisdom and the answer to that question in the upcoming release of our podcast episode. You can subscribe to the podcast here. Please also visit www.endtransdetention.org to take action and learn more about how to demand Justice for Victoria Arellano, Roxsana Hernandez, and Johana Medina.

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