Hi, my name is Juan Rodriguez and I identify as Queer. My parents brought me to the United States when I was 6 years old. I am 19 now.
Due to my sexual orientation, I felt as if I had to come out of the closet twice in high school: first as young man with sexual interests in men, and then as an undocumented student. Neither one of these two instances helped my life in high school -degraded by the school jocks for my orientation and degraded by the administration for my legal status. I felt that in one field I had to struggle to be accepted for who I really I am, and in the other I was told that my existence in this country at all was a criminal act.
When I graduated from high school, I was told that I had no future in this country even though I graduated ranked 4th in a class of 500 students, and to this day it is still difficult to balance my fight for immigrant rights with the right to my sexual identity. Ultimately, I devote myself to the grander human rights battle of our time where ALL of us are interconnected and deserve equal treatment and respect.
Currently, I am a leader in SWER (Students Working for Equal Rights) -a member group of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
My video is here
Email – email@example.com
Hi, my name is Felipe Matos and I am bisexual. I was brought to the USA by my older sister who was living here for 4 years then. My mother had developed a chronic back disease that prevented her from working. I had grown used to being oppressed by extreme poverty in my country of origin, Brazil, so the US was definitely a promising way to finally find freedom- I was wrong.
When I got to Miami the first thing my sister did was to enroll me in middle school so I could finish 8th grade. As pre- teen away from my parents and everything I knew, I tried to focus all my energy in my studies so I could take my mind from having “gay” thoughts. I was confused and sought help in churches and different places where I found nothing but rejection for my legal status and my sexual orientation. Florida doesn’t have in-state tuition so I had to find different ways to pay for my AA degree in International Relations from Miami Dade College.
The most painful part of this experience came upon my graduation. I am part of the 2008 All USA First Team and a New Century Scholar representing Florida and I could not finish my bachelorâ€™s degree because I could not afford the high cost of my education in the university level. I still hide from my employers my sexual orientation in fear that they will fire me and leave me without the only source of income I have. The unjust immigration system left without my right to choose, to come and go, and most importantly to think on my own. I am breaking free little by little by fighting everyday for the rights of all immigrants who live in this country and face similar conditions.