Things That Matter

Latino, Gay, and Undocumented in the Rural South

Undocumented, gay, and living in rural North Carolina, Moises Serrano felt trapped in a world that didn’t understand him. His struggles and triumphs are captured in Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America, a documentary by filmmakers Tiffany Rhynard and Kathi Barnhill. We caught up with Serrano to talk activism, acceptance and hope.

What inspired you to become an UndocuQueer activist?

Serrano: I actually didn’t know that LGBTQ and immigration rights were intertwined. After coming out as undocumented in 2010, I started working for a national immigration rights group called United We Dream. I met other UndocuQueer people from around the nation and they showed me that you can be queer and an international immigrant as well.

Moises (Eyes Closed)
Photo Credit: Kathi Barnhill

When did you start to worry about being undocumented?

Serrano: I always knew I was undocumented, but living in our country, especially pre-9/11, I really didn’t feel a lot of repercussions. I started to grapple with my undocumented identity when I was watching TV and I would see the map of the Real ID Act. I remember feeling like we were under attack… like a scene out of a movie.

How did you deal with it?

Serrano: I don’t have an answer. I fell into a very deep depression, I just shut myself off from the world. It doesn’t sound like a good way to do it, but you also have to remember that there were no resources available for [gay and undocumented] kids like me. I didn’t have a support system until I was 21, when I met my friend Wooten [Gough]. We formed El Cambio. He helped me discover who I am.

Why didn’t you go to your parents about being gay?

Serrano: My parents were still very attached to their culture and their mentality, which is great, but I also knew that meant I couldn’t rely on my family as a resource of solace or empowerment. I knew that they would reject me at one point for being gay.

Moises UndcouQueer Sign
Photo Credit: Kathi Barnhill

What gave you strength?

Serrano: I’ve always been surrounded by strong women. I worked at a factory with these women, many whose husbands had lost their jobs in the recession, they worked multiple jobs. It was nights at the factory and cleaning hotel rooms by day. That degree of love and commitment they had for their families, that was something that has always stuck with me. I’m also inspired by mother and sisters and am grateful for all the times they have come to bat for me. If it were not for their sacrifices, I would not be where I am today.

Why did you agree to be in the documentary?

Serrano: [Co-Director] Tiffany said that when she first met me, she knew so little of the plight of undocumented immigrants in our nation. I just want to raise awareness and, if we happen to motivate someone to action along the way, that would be amazing.

Credit: Heather Mathews / Vimeo

READ: UndocuQueer Activists Changing the Immigration Debate

How did people at home react to news about the documentary?

Serrano: I came out as queer in the biggest Latino/Spanish newspaper in the state. I know my mother encountered homophobic comments that were said to her by her family and people at church. My mother is a fierce defender of her children, she has definitely become an ally to me and to my story. I think that after I came out as gay and undocumented, our relationship has gotten a lot stronger. Personally, I haven’t faced much pushback from the white-American community. I actually felt that we had a lot of support from them so it’s just the double dichotomy of these two worlds that I have a foot in.

Moises Y Mama
Photo Credit: Kathi Barnhill

Have you seen the political landscape change?

Serrano: Since 2010, I have seen immigrant rights issues grow from grassroots efforts to immigration reform at the forefront of our nation’s mind. I also see the mainstream acceptance undocumented, LGBT and queer issues. I think most Americans agree on a pathway for citizenship for undocumented youths, but what’s going to happen to our parents? Our parents were the original DREAMers. My hope moving forward is that we find the humanity in ourselves and that we find the humanity in immigrants, that there is a pathway to citizenship that isn’t filled with obstacles.

What’s your advice for undocumented, Latino youths?

Serrano: Always share your story. The moment you come out as undocumented or queer, your life will start to get better. It will open all kinds of resources that you didn’t know existed. If it wasn’t for the fact that I came out as undocumented, I wouldn’t have worked with United We Dream, I wouldn’t have found the resources to go to college and this documentary wouldn’t exist. I want undocumented and queer children to know that it’s okay and it does get better. Your dreams are possible if only you try.

Learn more about Moises’s story at forbiddendoc.com.

There’s A Major Update About The ‘Avatar’ Movie Sequel And It Will Seriously Send You To The Moon

Entertainment

There’s A Major Update About The ‘Avatar’ Movie Sequel And It Will Seriously Send You To The Moon

@officialavatar / Twitter

If you’re a fan of the 2009 film “Avatar” by James Cameron, you’re likely a little over movie updates promising you that it will hit theaters soon.

In December 2009, the film smashed box office records and wrangled in a total of $2.7 billion worldwide. Soon after, Cameron revealed his plans for unleashing several sequels that would surmount the technological groundbreaker, and we were beyond elated. Which brings us to 2020.

For a literal DECADE, we’ve seen the film’s release date pushed further and further away from us and the current COVID-19 pandemic has put the fate of the franchise’s future up in the air once again.

Still, recent updates are giving us hope and some insight into what to expect.

Recently, the official Avatar Twitter account posted a new behind-the-scenes photo of Avatar 2 actors.

The new post features Zoe Saldana alongside Sam Worthington. Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. If you’re a TRUE fan of Avatar you’ll know that the upcoming sequels will feature an underwater world. The latest reveal from the Twitter account gave us a pretty fun hint at what the work going into that will look like. After all, the film’s performance capture scenes that are taking place underwater are a cinematic first!

“From the set of the sequels: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Kate Winslet, and Cliff Curtis taking a break from underwater performance capture for a quick photo,” the official Avatar movie account tweeted shared in a tweet from last week. “Fun fact: Much of the performance capture took place in this 900,000-gallon tank, built specifically for the sequels.”

Saldana, Afro-Latina Sci-Fi Queen, will reprise her role as Neytiri in the new series.

She is set to play alongside Worthington who will return as Jake Sully. Actress Kate Winslet joins the cast as the new character Ronal, and Curtis will play a new lead role.

Production for the first Avatar sequel was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In May, Deadline announced that production was picked back up in New Zealand. The decision was made because the country has new health and safety production protocols concerning COVID-19. “The country’s lockdown has been gradually eased in recent weeks and further significant relaxation is expected next week, including the permission for gatherings of up to 100 people. Domestic travel and office work is also due to resume,” Deadline reported in a piece about the sequel’s relocation. “The country has restricted international travel and required arrivals to quarantine for a period of time so the teams behind major international productions may need to wait a while longer but the path to a return is becoming clearer.”

After Avatar 2 is released on Dec. 17, 2021!!!

And the fun won’t stop there. Three more Avatar movies are expected to debut in 2023, 2025 and 2027. All featuring Saldana.

The New Mel Gibson Movie Is The ‘Tone-Deaf’ Portrayal Of A Puerto Rico Hurricane We Did Not Ask For

Entertainment

The New Mel Gibson Movie Is The ‘Tone-Deaf’ Portrayal Of A Puerto Rico Hurricane We Did Not Ask For

Lionsgate

We’ll need to take a trip down memory lane for this one.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, Mel Gibson’s career was tanking thanks to a series of controversies that were related to his homophobic, racist, and antisemitic outbursts.

In 2006, the Oscar-winning actor had been convicted of drunk driving and it had been reported that during the arrest he unleashed a “barrage of anti-Semitic remarks.” During his arrest, he accused Jewish people of being “responsible for all the wars in the world.” In July 2010, a leaked phone call between Gibson and his then-partner Oksana Grigorieva had revealed that he’d suggested that if she got “raped by a pack of n******”, it would be her fault. At the time, Gibson was barred from coming near Grigorieva or their daughter due to a domestic violence-related restraining order.

And yet, in 2020, it seems all is forgiven and Lionsgate has so wiped the racist, homophobic, and sexually abusive comments from their memory that they decided to crown him a hero.

Gibson is set to star in a heist film featuring minorities as criminals and himself as the white savior.

Recently it was announced that Mel Gibson will star in a film that features a hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico. “Force of Nature” stars Gibson as a “retired officer refusing to leave his apartment even as a category-five hurricane begins to hit Puerto Rico.” The twist? Gibson’s character is out to stop a group of local men planning to steal $55m during the catastrophe.

Seems kind of right up the alley of Alt-right men…

Soon after the trailer dropped users on Twitter were quick to slam its premise calling it “tone-deaf” and disrespectful.”

While the new film doesn’t reference the devastation of Hurricane Maria specifically, many were offended by the decision of the production company, Lionsgate, behind the film to produce it in Puerto Rico and make the islanders the villains in poor taste.

“It’s outright disrespectful to the people who went through the traumatic experience that was Hurricane Maria, for Mel Gibson and any Hollywood company to come to Puerto Rico and make a movie where the islanders are the bad guys, and he and the white people are the good guys,” one user tweeted in response to the film.

“So I just saw that Mel Gibson is trending and why… ” another user tweeted. “Dude, if you’re going to do a movie about PR being hit by Cat. 5 hurricane, could actually make it something meaningful, revolving around Boricuas that had to suffer through that kind of disaster, and not whatever this shit is?”

Many were quick to describe the film as exploitive.

Even if the film wasn’t exploitive, it is, it’s certainly a completely tone-deaf mess.

Check it out now.