Oregon Queer Youth Summit
Portland State University
May 12, 2012
A Queer Undocumented Reflection
Queer, undocumented, women, disabled, youth, community-we must always work to not forget that our collective and individual duty is to love and protect each other. I was invited to speak at the OQYS 2012 on my activism experience as a Queer Undocumented organizer. My instinct was to prepare a speech that would address the urgency and importance of doing intersectional organizing between the LGBTQ and immigrant rights movements but a week prior to the summit the speech transformed, I need it to talk about love. Often times community organizing spaces are immediately about pushing for a political agenda, mobilizing and then moving on to the next issue on the to do list without first providing a space for community to come together to share their narratives and heal. So I decided that I need it to take this opportunity to remind the Queer youth that our social justice work and our lives must always be about self-love, love for someone else, love for our communities and about celebrating our identities.
The response from the youth was astounding and a reminder that we cannot demand of them to fight for their rights without sharing critical tools that will allow them to shed the shame and pain they carry in their Queer spirits. We must meet them where they’re at in order to have them begin to transform each other’s lives. The speech need it to be accessible in order for them to identify with my experiences and I need to poke fun at pop culture in order create a clear connection among all of us. The connection was made, they laughed and listened with their hearts and not just their ears.
It was powerful to see and attend workshops that addressed issues about race, undocumented immigration status and disabled identities. Whether such workshops were intentional or not by the planning committee nonetheless provided a space for Queer youth to be transformed. Another powerful tool that was recurrent throughout workshops was the power of story telling. The two workshops I attended highlighted the ways story telling can helps us identify with each other, expose us to different issues and establish spaces of love and trust in our communities. I was glad to see that the other speakers were young and could easily connect with their counterparts in the audience. All of them touched on different issues, advocacy work and how their work has brought positive change to their lives. The youth need to see that they all have the opportunity to collectively bring change into their communities and their lives.
I take this with me-an affirmation that above all social justice movements must always be about love. Queer Undocumented/Queer people of color/Queer youth must know everyday that they are fierce and powerful. The summit provided a critical space for Queer youth to say to be reaffirmed and acknowledged, “I am fierce, I am fierce, I am fierce and it’s our duty to love and to protect each other.” Queer youth lives were transformed.
Queer. Undocumented. Unafraid.