“David”, 19, Guatemala
Amor Prohibido – Forbidden Love
After a Facebook post outing his sexual orientation went viral in his hometown, David* was beaten up by his friends and family in Guatemala. David and his boyfriend fled to Mexico where they joined the caravan, “Viacrucis Migrantes,” making their way up north to exercise their right to seek asylum in the United States. The two-month, 3,000-mile-long odyssey reached a point of separation, confusion, and heartbreak when they turned themselves in together at the U.S. border to seek asylum. David was imprisoned at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility in California. Meanwhile, his boyfriend was taken to a remote prison in Illinois, 2,000 miles away. There was radio silence for over 4 months, a stark contrast from their daily communication before the days of the Facebook post.
Eight months of no communication later, David and his boyfriend were finally reunited in the Bay Area. They are both attending adult school to learn English, have new friends that respect them and their relationship, and have created a chosen family for themselves. David recently was hired at Popeye’s where he is working to make a living. Since his release from detention, David has been sharing the story of his forbidden love and migration, including through media platforms like No Immigrant No Spice.
Marvin, 24, El Salvador
Dressing up in Drag as a form of expression and freedom
From childhood, Marvin was bullied, harassed, and nearly beaten to death, and no one ever stood up for him in El Salvador. He felt trapped and silenced for being who he was. Finding his freedom and creative expression by dressing up in drag and performing at local bars, Marvin began representing his department in El Salvador in national competitions for music, dance, and drag performances. This act of bravery in a society where traditional gender norms are strictly enforced, resulted in death threats from gangs and the police. Again, no one stood up for Marvin to protect him. These life-threatening events it did not stop Marvin from finding his chosen family with other drag queens and members of the small LGBTQ community in El Salvador. “Me siento realizado vestirme y poner un show en un scenario con luces y música! Vivo en un mundo que me acepta tal y como soy, yo voy a crear mi realidad.”
After arriving in the Bay Area, Marvin again, began to express his creativity and continued to explore his sexuality while performing in drag. Marvin has an incredible ability to keep a positive outlook on life, no matter what the circumstances, in part, thanks to his performing arts. He hopes that his newfound search for freedom, which was violently repressed in El Salvador, will be fully realized in the United States.
Arely, 26, Honduras
My existence is resistance
“I left Honduras because of the discrimination against trans-gender women. In Honduras we are treated as if we have no right to live, we feel as if we aren’t even allowed to breathe the air. The authorities discriminate against us, beat us, and insult us. I came here to save my life, so that I wouldn’t be killed like so many of my trans friends. We suffer a lot along the way, but it is the sacrifice we have to make to get to where we are now. The situation at Cibola [an immigration prison in New Mexico] was really bad. I don’t know how we found the strength to carry on and not abandon our hopes for something better. Thank God we are free now."
Thanks to the legal and community organizing efforts from the Santa Fe Dreamers Project and community members in New Mexico, Arely relocated to the Bay Area in 2018. Arely is working with her attorney at Pangea to prepare for her asylum that has been scheduled for 2020. Arely’s story of struggle and resistance transcends all borders and time.