As a Mexican immigrant and realizing from a young age that I am queer, I need the LGBTQ and immigration movement to work collectively for others like me to reach full liberation. Navigating between both identities, immigrant and queer, has always been like tip-toeing on a mine field– always being extra careful not to be “too Mexican” or “too queer.”
I grew up in the Texas-Mexico border, and my racial, cultural, and gender/sexual experiences have been deeply influenced and defined by living in the Rio Grande Valley. Growing up in this region, our border culture has always been seen as “neither this or that,” neither American or Mexican, not really belonging to anywhere or to any one group. Similarly, I often feel as if I don’t belong here nor there.
With this clash of cultures, languages, and regions, there comes difficulties in ever fully owning our identities, especially one as taboo as coming out as LGBTQ+, and add to that being a foreigner in this country. Gloria Anzaldúa described the borderland as an “herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds…. Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.”
I know those feelings of “unnatural,” “prohibited,” and “forbidden” that Anzaldúa describes all too well, of feeling marginalized within an already marginalized group, of conflicting identities as if I could not be both a proud Mexican immigrant and a proud lesbian woman. In the LGBTQ and in the immigrant community, we know those feelings that appear contradictory, opposing, or paradoxical, but both communities know that we can together we can overcome all that. Here’s to no more borders, no more boundaries, and #NoMoreClosets.