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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.

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Things That Matter

Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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These Christmas Movies Will Make Your Season Festive And Bright

Entertainment

These Christmas Movies Will Make Your Season Festive And Bright

overturefilms / YouTube

Christmas is here and it is time to get super festive, y’all. One of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is by watching the movies that will take you to that place. Here are some Latino Christmas movies that will get you feeling all Christmas-y.

“Christmas Bounty”

WWE brings you this love story that follows a woman and her secret. The school teacher (Francia Raisa) is hiding her past as a bounty hunter when she gets pulled back in. Raisa’s character goes back to her hometown and has to work with her ex-boyfriend to catch a bounty that got away.

“This Christmas”

“This Christmas” is a family holiday movie with serious issues. A family’s matriarch assembles her family for the first time in four years. The holiday gathering is filled with stress and drama as strains show within the family. It is a real look at what happens when some families with secrets come together and confrontations happen.

“Holiday In Handcuffs”

This one is so wild it is worth a watch. Melissa Joan Hart plays a woman who is desperate to show her family that she is finally in love. How? Well, she kidnaps a man played by Mario Lopez and takes him to her family’s house for Christmas. We are talking felony kidnapping but it’s all cool because, as you would expect at Christmas, they fall in love.

“Happiest Season”

Hulu’s original movie “Happiest Season” is a lesbian Christmas love song that will melt your heart. Kristen Stewart plays a woman suckered into going to her girlfriend’s parents’ home for Christmas. But the catch is that her girlfriend isn’t out. Aubrey Plaza plays a woman jilted by Stewart’s girlfriend and helps the young woman navigate her way through this family.

“A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas”

Pulse pounding and hilarious. “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” is exactly what you would expect from the franchise. Danny Trejo plays Harold’s father-in-law who wants a perfect Christmas, something Harold is determined to make happen. When Kumar gets involved, things go sideways fast and the two friends are left figuring out how to save the holiday.

“Nothing Like The Holidays”

A Puerto Rican family gathers for what might be their last Christmas together. The family tries to make the most of the time together and, as you would expect, lessons are learned and familial bonds are made stronger. There is something so powerful about gathering during the holidays.

READ: We Sit Down With José Feliciano To Discuss the 50th Anniversary of His Christmas Masterpiece, ‘Feliz Navidad’

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