Things That Matter

Gay Man Attacked In Downtown Phoenix By A ‘Mob Of 10 People’

Cesar Marin / Facebook

Cesar Marin was driving in downtown Phoenix when he was attacked by a group of people in what he has called a hate crime. Marin has been recovering since the attack but took to Facebook to share his ordeal with family, friends, and, inadvertently, other victims of hate crimes based on their sexual orientation. Here’s what we know so far about he brutal attack that left Marin in the hospital.

Cesar Marin is a Phoenix man recovering in a hospital after a vicious anti-gay attack.

Credit: @LindseyReiser / Twitter

“I was just gay bashed in downtown Phoenix. I was attacked by a mob of 10 people. It all started with 1 girl flicking her cigarette in my car and calling me a f****t,” Marin started his Facebook post. “Before I knew it, I was surrounded in a hail of punches. One guy kicked me in the face when I fell down. The police are investigating and they have the cigarette the girl flicked into my car and a silver earing. I have a broken nose and a swollen face and bruised body. I’m home resting. Thanks for all your love!”

According to the latest FBI statistics reported, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have been on the increase since President Donald Trump was elected. The Human Rights Campaign reported that hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, just one year into Trump’s presidency.

Anti-gay hate crimes have been a commonly discussed topic since Jussie Smollett made headlines claiming he was viciously attacked in Chicago. Smollett, who is in court facing 16 felony counts related to the incident, alleged that two men in “Make America Great Again” hats attacked him for being Black and gay.

“At the beginning of this ordeal, I felt like the world was full of evil.”

Credit: @kbal3259 / Twitter

Marin explains in his Facebook post that the attack was unprovoked. According to the post, Marin claims that a woman was jaywalking and stepped out in front of his car. Marin hit the brakes and at that time the woman walked to his passenger side and called him a “f****t” and flicked her lit cigarette at him.

“I freaked out and said something like why did you do that, what’s wrong with you. I did a u turn cause of how close to the intersection I was. I pulled over fast,” Marin explains in his post. “I didn’t want my car to catch fire as I saw red hot embers when she hit me with it. I got out of my car to get to the passenger side to look for the cigarette when the attack started so I was NOT pulled out.”

His story is resonating across the LGBTQ+ community since attacks like these are real and terrifying.

Credit: @ernieortiz / Twitter

Marin says that he is out and not shy about his sexuality and that it would be clear to the attackers that he is a gay man. He mentions that the song playing in his car could have been “flamboyant,” but the equality and rainbow stickers on his bumper would have given it away regardless.

“How did they know I was gay? Well, I drive a Miata convertible which had the top down. I listen to flamboyantly gay music. I love Madonna, Cher, The Weather Girls, “It’s Raining men” MY favorite song in the whole world,” Marin shares in his post. “Frankly I don’t remember the song. but my playlist consists of stuff like that. I do sing out loud when I drive and if that wasn’t enough, when she saw the back of my car, the equality sticker and gay rainbow sticker was a dead giveaway.”

Arizona police are currently investigating the attack and Marin admits he lost consciousness during the attack, but a Good Samaritan helped him.

Credit: @albertohonor41 / Twitter

“I only remember when the attack started as I passed out and came to on the floor when a good Samaritan was shaking my shoulders asking if I was okay. I was spitting up a ton of blood and he put a bag of ice on my face. I heard him yelling at the people that attacked me,” Marin says in his post. “I blacked out a bit and remember being surrounded by paramedics and heard the voice of the good Samaritan telling the cops that he pulled people off of me and saw when they were stomping my face with their feet. He gave a description to the police.”

Marin says the police were able to collect the cigarette butt that was thrown by the woman involved in the attack. Marin also states that a video of the aftermath of the attack has been released all in an attempt to help the police find those responsible for the attack.

READ: Here’s How A Group Of Activists Secretly Broke The Homophobic Law Banning Gay Propaganda In Russia

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

mirror_cooperative_ / Instagram

Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

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After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

transgender_together / Instagram

After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

Credit: @outmagazine / Twitter

Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried