Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-11-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


VIEWPOINTS The time to come out is now
by Jorge Mena

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Coming out as gay showed me just how necessary it was to address my undocumented identity. I dealt with both separately, but every day both of these identities influence each decision I make. Being out ( has not only been the best decision I made but ) has allowed me to be more mentally healthy while fighting for my rights as an undocumented queer Latino immigrant.

As I stood on stage in downtown Chicago—about to come out as undocumented, unafraid, unapologetic—my body felt heavy. I had practiced what I would say but the fear that rushed back into me for a second was something I could not have dealt with beforehand. I suddenly realized that I was about to come out to an immense crowd.

That day—March 10, 2011—I was anxious of who would actually see me on the news and how I would be judged. I remember thinking, "What if my manager at work sees this?" I was afraid of losing my measly café job for coming out and talking about my identity.

I also remember thinking, "I need this. I'm going insane." I was about to graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and felt the same feelings that came forth when I was graduating high school. Feelings of frustration, fear, loneliness and anger at not knowing where my life was headed due to closed doors and no opportunities regardless of my hard work and education. It was overwhelming. I needed to come out and speak aloud to know that I would live past all this and that being undocumented was not something I would have to deal with alone.

One year later, I am still seeing the after effects of coming out. While I was doing it for personal reasons at the time, I quickly realized how it affected the people around me as well as undocumented youth I would come to know. Only months after coming out, me and five other undocumented youth, some who came out of the shadows with me on March 10 would get arrested participating in a sit-in blocking traffic and protesting the immigration-enforcement program Secure Communities. After coming out, I have realized that we are coming out to defend ourselves. No one else is going to do this for us, and our voices are ready to be heard. If you listen closely, our stories have potential to change politics and I believe that they will.

National Coming Out of the Shadows Day is about defining ourselves and not relying on others to show us what we need or who we are. It is about undocumented youth taking control of their future. This year, on March 16, the suburbs will also come out of the shadows in DuPage County, for the first time. Being undocumented in the suburbs can bring its own issues but the youth there are realizing that coming out is the first step to fight hate speech and programs that criminalize undocumented immigrants, running strong in suburban communities. It is not only in states like Arizona, Georgia and Alabama that immigrants are being deported. Here in Illinois, deportations have increased as families are ripped apart and undocumented people continue to be blamed.

Coming out is a process and there are still many young people who are scared to speak about their status. Youth continue to fear in silence as college response letters are quietly opened knowing that the resources to pay for school do not exist or that getting a job seems impossible. I want to tell these youth to stop feeling afraid. I want them to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that coming out means that you will not let anyone take away your humanity. We need to create a space where no one can ignore us and it begins with us believing that we are worth it and that we can achieve our goals.

I claim my undocumented and queer identities as they are continually developing and redefined while definitely being out. I invite everyone to come to come to National Coming Out of the Shadows and listen to undocumented people share their stories. If you are undocumented, know that we will survive in this country. But we will only be ready for what is to come if we are able to define ourselves, and be out about our status. The time to come out is now.

Jorge Mena is a queer undocumented organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League ( IYJL ) . He came out as undocumented March 10, 2011, and was arrested during a civil-disobedience protest in Chicago six months later. He is also a 2010 Windy City Times 30 under 30 award recipient.

For more information on Chicago's 2012 National Coming Out of the Shadows event, see

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Rule proposed to assure equal access to housing matching gender identity 2015-11-29
Trans man harassed, mistaken for ISIS member 2015-11-25
Wis. school cancels book after anti-gay group's possible suit 2015-11-25
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2015 Citywide events honor fallen heroes 2015-11-25
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2015 Trans rabbi speaks at observance 2015-11-25
Berwyn school district offering pro-trans policies, outreach 2015-11-25
Trans couple talk romance, work, activism 2015-11-25
Trans poet H. Melt releases new collection 2015-11-25
A'ville shopping; Hilarity Davenport's; Oy to the World; youth talk; Transfluent 2015-11-25
World news: LGBT Ugandans; Ireland and marriage; trans deaths 2015-11-24
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2015 Transgender clergy: 'Everything you are is OK' 2015-11-22
Task Force condemns police's treatment of transgender activist 2015-11-19
Report: Without accurate identity documents, trans people face harassment 2015-11-19
Trans Day of Remembrance events 2015-11-18
SIDEBAR A Trans Lifeline operator's rewards and challenges 2015-11-18
Organization provides lifelines for trans individuals 2015-11-18
Trans supermodel Geena Rocero on 'Beautiful As I Want to Be' 2015-11-18
Entertainment news: Caitlyn Jenner; OUT100; Passion Pit; Ruby Rose 2015-11-17
Nat'l roundup: ACA cases; anti-trans petition; anti-LGBT companies; marriage 2015-11-17
ASK LAMBDA LEGAL Defining 'intersex' 2015-11-17
FBI Hate Crimes Report out before Congressional anti-transgender violence forum 2015-11-17
Congress forms new Transgender Equality Task Force 2015-11-17
Task Force names Trans/Gender Non-Confirming Justice Project Director 2015-11-17
Chelsea Manning responds to move to dismiss suit seeking care for gender dysphoria 2015-11-13
Jenner speaks at Chicago House event 2015-11-13
Attorney, trans activist Broadus in Esquire, keynoting Trans Health Symposium 2015-11-12
Lambda Legal to hold events nationwide to mark Transgender Awareness Week 2015-11-12
Activist reveals information relating to sailor Allen Schindler's murder 2015-11-11
'Transfluent' exhibit highlights trans artists 2015-11-11
ACLU Sues on behalf of Black transgender woman illegally profiled, jailed 2015-11-10
NUNN ON ONE Linda Gray talks, AIDS activism and playing a trans role 2015-11-10
Producer creates Exposure for Chicago's youth experiencing homelessness 2015-11-08
Union for Reform Judaism passes transgender-affirming resolution 2015-11-06
HRC condemns Carson's attack on trans people 2015-11-05
LGBT Community Fund requests Letters of Inquiry for transformational grants 2015-11-04
Entertainment news: Sam Smith; Chaz Bono; Jane Lynch; Cyndi Lauper 2015-11-03
Upcoming: Trans Day of Remembrance; Alliance youth summit; Midwest Equality summit 2015-11-03
U.S. Dept. of Ed.: Palatine school district violated Title IX on trans access 2015-11-03
Caitlyn Jenner to headline Chicago House Speaker Series Nov. 12 2015-11-02
Researchers: Health providers unprepared for pregnant transgender men 2015-10-29

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.