I am 19 years old, undocumented, and queer.
I was once asked if I could recall the time when I first learned about my “undocumented” status living in the United States. I was taken aback, for I realized that there was never really a moment when my parents sat me down to discuss our legal status in this country. We (my parents, older sibling, and I) moved here in 2006, I was 7 years old. It was a very sudden change, a difficult one. I had merely a hint of how our legal status in this country affected us when I could no longer go back to visit my family in Mexico because my visa had expired. I quickly understood that we had left our home and our family and that this country would become our new home.
By the time sophomore year of high school rolled around, I was more than used to dealing with things on my own and was beginning to learn about what it meant to be undocumented in this country. I felt immense pressure to do well in school, get into college, and be successful in life in order to repay my parents for their sacrifices— for seeking a better life for us by moving to the United States. My parents worked a lot and were not able to help me with my education due to the language barrier and the fact that they had little education themselves. I had to navigate my academic career on my own—and soon, the college application process as an undocumented student. At this time, I also began to question my sexuality. This, too, was something that I could not talk to my parents about, being that my family is Catholic, and I knew they’d never be accepting of me if I came out to them as gay.
Exploring these two complex identities was (and has been) difficult without a doubt, but I am eternally grateful to have found close friends, who have become family, that accept me and support me for who I am. Being that I have always dealt with things on my own, it was not easy letting people help me, but I searched for the support I longed for, and I found it when I opened up and realized that I am not alone. Throughout these past few years, things have been made harder due to the current political climate, but seeing the growing number of UndocuQueer folks sharing their stories has made me less afraid, and has allowed me to realize that I have a place here and that I know I am not alone.
Learning to accept that I would not be able to visit Mexico anymore, learning a new language, adjusting to new faces, a new school, a new culture was immensely hard. It was extremely tough feeling like an outsider and not having anyone whom I could relate to. I kept to myself and dealt with everything on my own. I was never comfortable—I always felt stuck between two places: missing my old life in Mexico and getting used to my new life in the United States. Over time, I had learned that our legal status in this country dictated our safety and that if my family and I wanted to remain here, I could not speak to anyone about my legal status. I developed a lot of fear and anxiety around mine and my family’s legal status.