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 2016-02-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWPOINTS The time to come out is now
by Jorge Mena
2012-03-07

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us 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 www.facebook.com/events/347153208636270.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us 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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

South Dakota may be first state to make law attacking transgender children 2016-02-10
Argentinian trans activist dies 2016-02-10
NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION Amy Landecker lands dream job on 'Transparent' 2016-02-10
Upcoming: Patricia Racette in 'Humaine'; sexual-assault exhibit; Trans exhibit 2016-02-10
GLAAD Award nods announced 2016-02-10
Girl Scout turns anti-trans incident into cookie sale success 2016-02-07
Police kill trans man in Arizona 2016-02-07
Panel on homelessness and survival sex Feb. 10 2016-02-03
First trans murder of 2016 in Texas 2016-02-03
Report: Trans youth more likely to have Asperger's 2016-02-03
Trans woman who served years in jail without trial launches fundraiser 2016-02-03
Rush Center first to provide trans health-care benefits 2016-02-03
'Queer Brown Voices' discussed at WC&F 2016-02-02
Defense Department proposes rule change to give medical benefits to transgender troops 2016-02-01
Pritzker chairing Equality Illinois gala 2016-01-27
BOOKS Photography book looks at trans life in Cuba 2016-01-27
Gay athlete has figure-skating win; trans Olympians 2016-01-27
Entertainment: Caitlyn memoir; Idris Elba; Christian Bale; Jillian Michaels 2016-01-26
World: Russian pro-LGBT move; anti-trans incidents; Biden in Switzerland 2016-01-26
Creating Change panel addresses Black Feminism 2016-01-25
Creating Change plenary addresses HIV/AIDS in trans women, Black men 2016-01-25
Olympics changing policy for trans athletes 2016-01-25
Groups issue statement criticizing anti-trans restroom measure 2016-01-22
Suburban legislator files Illinois restroom access bill 2016-01-20
Trans student gets locker-room access; Trans-military ban decision expected 2016-01-20
Theater submissions sought for [Trans]formation 2016-01-20
Web series aims to tell realistic trans experiences 2016-01-20
World news: Chelsea Manning exhibit; Vietnam and marriage; 'Danish Girl' banned 2016-01-19
National roundup: Murderer sentenced; Eric Fanning; Montana's pro-LGBT move 2016-01-19
Chicago Restroom Access Project seeks input on designs 2016-01-18
Chicago Restroom Access Project seeks input on designs 2016-01-18
Suburban district grants locker room access to trans student 2016-01-16
Michigan murderer sentenced to 30-60 years 2016-01-15
Rush first in state to offer coverage for transgender health services 2016-01-15
Report on trans, non-trans veterans; Prison changes; Anti-choice protest 2016-01-13
Recap: Brief on anti-trans law; Gay media; Tutu's daughter; Chamber partnership 2016-01-13
Legendary Baton performer Mimi Marks saying farewell 2016-01-13
Submissions sought for trans work 2016-01-13
TELEVISION It's simply the 'Dress' for Chicagoan Precious Davis 2016-01-12
GMHC: Gervais' Golden Globes comments perpetuate transphobia 2016-01-12
 



Copyright © 2016 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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

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.