We read and speak often about the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality in the setting of Women and Gender studies classes. In “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics” Kimberle Crenshaw analyzes how the legal system in the United States systematically ignores how race affects the experiences of Black women. Interpreting their experience as merely “women’s experience” or the “Black experience” constitutes discriminatory policies that fail to acknowledge how both race and sex impact the lives of every individual. The theory of intersectionality analyzes how cultural and social classifications such as gender, class, sexuality, etc. interact with each other and work simultaneously to create systematic oppression. Aside from the classifications listed above, it is important to understand and analyze how immigration status interrelates with gender and sexuality. The UndocuQueer movement is taking a vital role in providing insight for how the intersections of sexuality and immigration status lead to social marginalization.
It has rarely been brought to my attention how gender and sexuality affect undocumented immigrants. This interest of mine has been raised by two guest speakers that attended my Gender and Immigration class. They are part of the UndocuQueer movement that is now gaining visibility in the public eye. The powerful mantra of the movement is “UndocuQueer Unashamed and Unafraid!” and with these words, strong individuals are “coming out” and stating their identity and how their queer and undocumented status acts as a double bind of oppression. Taking a stand against anti-immigration laws as well as advocating LGBT rights, the UndocuQueer movement are drawing the parallels between these two issues that are often treated seperately.
The story of Fernanda shows the fear that she has lived with being undocumented as well as her fear of expressing her sexual preference. She reveals on her blog that her parents would encourage her to “…be as quiet and as invisible as possible to avoid any trouble…” in fear of deportation. She is rendered invisible by the government, a system which ideally works to protect and secure rights. Not being able to share her queer identity as well as her lack of an immigration status made Fernanda feel irritated, embarrassed and alone.
The marginalization of Fernanda and other UndocuQueer individuals by a society that fails to understand the theory of intersectionality is being tackled by the UndocuQueer movement on a grassroots level. Facebook, blogs and other media outlets are being utilized to spread the message that UndocuQueer individuals are not ashamed of their identity.