Antonio born in Guanajuato, Mexico was brought to the United States at the age of seven by his mother looking for better opportunities. He remembers the day he was told that they were moving to the United States.
“I remember packing up my things. I had a little red backpack. I was packing my little toys. I remember leaving some stuff I loved because my mother said not to take them with me.”
Antonio crossed the US border, at the time, with a maturity beyond his years. Thinking that when they cross the border, they will have a better life. Antonio remembers some memories from their home in Mexico. He remembers the way his house looked, the way his old neighbors’ house looked and the appearance of his old school. Upon crossing the border, Antonio felt a warm welcome by the 4th of July fireworks. Thinking the fireworks happened for him, he felt welcomed on his first day in the United States. Leaving their life behind in Guanajuato, Antonio and his family settled in San Diego CA.
As a child, learning visually from his favorite TV show Antonio gained some social skills to interact with his new English speaking classmates. Another television program helped him discover what it meant to be gay. The show “Queer as Folk” debuted in 2000 and was set in working-class Pittsburgh The drama revolves around a group of gay friends and their relationships, careers, loves and ambitions.
Antonio began to connect his thoughts and interests around the gay culture at the age of 13 when his mother faced a hand injury. She was rushed to UCSD hospital in Hillcrest, San Diego. There Antonio experienced the San Diego LGBTQ community. “I remember seeing men and men, woman and woman holding hands and thinking that I belong there.” Antonio came out to his family at the age of 18.
“I always say I was made in the USA with Mexican parts. This thought came to me when I first got here. I was teased for not speaking English. What helped me learn English was The Power Rangers show. I would mimic what they would say. I remember wanting to learn English so badly because I wanted to enjoy more of my favorite shows. The show helped me learn social issues like bullying and ways to overcome them.”
Antonio started pursuing school through scholarships and grants. He received the Price scholarship in 2008, which was the start of his college career.
"Out of twenty alumni, only four graduated and I was one of them."
Antonio has had the chance to intern at Latin news station UNIVISION through his scholarship program. During his time interning at the news station, he got to experience hands-on news reporting. At the end of his internship, Antonio was offered a position in the news station. He could not accept the job due to his undocumented status.
“I felt devastated, I worked so hard for them, and they could not support me in any way. I remember leaving the news station and punching and kicking my car, crying in the parking lot.”
Antonio asked the station if they would accept him at their location in Tijuana, Mexico. He tried to leave his life in the United States to pursue his career in Mexico. UNIVISION told him there were no positions available in that location. Antonio had no choice but to move to Washington State to work in the fields with other immigrant workers. He felt there was no hope staying in San Diego.
“I went from field reporting to working in the fields.”
While living in Washington, Antonio pursued his goals to work in news reporting and media. He found ways to work at a local radio station where he would share news updates regarding immigration reform. He shared resources to help locals apply to the DACA program.
“I remember an older woman thanking me for sharing the news about DACA.”
Antonio qualified for DACA during his time in Washington. He decided to move back to San Diego in 2013. He obtained the California College Promise Grant, formally known as the BOG waiver which permits enrollment fees to be waived for California residents. Antonio has since received, an Associate of Chicana and Chicano studies, Associate of Arts Behavioral Sciences Sociology, Associate in Arts for Transfer Journalism, and Associate in Science Communications Radio and Television- Broadcast News — a total of four degrees. He has been interested in journalism ever since he was a kid. Antonio shares that his mother gave him the idea to follow this path because as a young boy Antonio was very talkative. He is now attending San Diego State University pursuing a major in Journalism.
Antonio works in the gay nightlife scene in San Diego, California. He is a doorman and also helps with the set-up of different local LGBTQ events. Antonio feels the word “undocumented” still holds much stigma, even in the LGBTQ community.
“I remember an incident working in the nightlife scene in San Diego. One of the bar backs who was born in the United States was taken back to Mexico, where he grew up his whole life. Somebody in the workplace commented on undocumented people, and everyone turned to him because he mostly spoke Spanish. I remember thinking, ‘this is it! I passed as a born in America, Mexican American.’ I reminded myself not to think that way. As a country, We are trying to build groups within a group instead of connecting with each other.
Antonio is the only person in his family who is undocumented. “There have been times where my family travels to Mexico without me.” Antonio has felt he had no one to relate to growing up. “Us as LGBTQ members get so caught up in our labels that sometimes we forget that being undocumented is also a status. Most of the time the LGBT community worries about other issues and when it comes down to it we get left behind... One thing that is always on my mind is younger folks who come out and get thrown out to the streets and become homeless. I never thought about a person who is undocumented that gets thrown out for their sexual orientation, how are they going to persevere? What kind of support is out there for them?”