Luba Cortés, an LBGT and Immigration activist in New York City, isn’t tiptoeing around her mother’s illegal status in this country. In fact, she just spilled all details of her undocumented life for The New York Times.
Share your story by clicking the link in our bio. ✊? #NoMoreClosets "My existence is composed of many identities; I'm latinx, I'm queer, and I'm undocumented. By default, my existence challenges all the different systems that exist to break and exploit my brown body. I've been using the label "queer" for almost 2 years now. It took me a long time to get there, "coming out" was never part of my plan because my desires and thoughts never felt unnatural. I never thought I would have to one day publicly announce that I was in fact "queer" but through the movement and my own politicization I chose to debut my sexuality and gender expression to my friends and my comrades. Coming out is not the peak of being queer, and it's not something that you should feel like you have to do. It's okay if you never come out, it's okay if you come out too. There's no shame in any of your choices. It's all about your safety. There are many different ways to live, build, heal, and love. Choose as many as you want. Remember that we continue to endlessly metamorphose. Who invented the closet anyways?" – Luba Cortes, Youth Organizer at Make the Road New York
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Cortés’ childhood took place largely in strangers’ homes. She did her homework while her mother – a housekeeper – scrubbed toilets, dusted and vacuumed other people’s messes. Sometimes she scrubbed right along with her mother.
Cortés recounts the tale of one person refusing to pay her mother: “My mom was being exploited, but she was undocumented, and there was nothing she could do.”
Their hopes of a new life have just been shattered. “She has been undocumented for 16 years. In 2014, we thought this might finally change,” she writes. “President Obama announced a program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, which would have protected her from deportation for at least three years and allowed her to get a work permit.”
“From a young age, I understood my place in the world through the eyes of my mother,” Cortés continues. “Her jobs required her to use cleaning products that burned her skin and blurred her vision. Her knees have scars from all the years scrubbing floors. Housekeepers are the heroes of the immigrant economy — they do their work silently, efficiently, and find money on the table after the job is done. There is no exchange of stories.” Cortés’ mother was certainly not a housekeeper back home in Mexico: “None of the people whose houses my mom has cleaned know that she was a lawyer, that she is an intellectual and passionate person; they don’t know that she crossed a treacherous border, or that she lives with the constant fear of deportation.”
Cortés says they will have to keep fighting the fear and move forward. “In moments like these, of sadness and defeat, I think of the night that we crossed the border. As we were running, I fell and for a moment looked up to the night sky, scared that I would be left behind. But my mom was there, she was there all along — she picked me up, and we started running again.”
Read Luba Cortés’ entire story here.