Archives for category: immigration
A queer family at dinner, holding hands during grace.  There are three children and two women, a couple.  One appears white, and the rest black.

Photo Credit: NY Times

An article yesterday in the New York Times reveals recent census data that shows that gay families raising children in teh U.S. are more common in the south, and that Black and Latin@ gay couples are more likely to be raising children:

The pattern, identified by Mr. Gates, is also notable because the families in this region defy the stereotype of a mainstream gay America that is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast.

“We’re starting to see that the gay community is very diverse,” said Bob Witeck, chief executive of Witeck-Combs Communications, which helped market the census to gay people. “We’re not all rich white guys.”

Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children, according to Mr. Gates, who used data from a Census Bureau sampling known as the American Community Survey. They are also more likely than their white counterparts to be struggling economically.

Some of this we have known for a long time – that queer people of color struggle economically far more than white queers, that queer people struggle economically more than straight people, that queer women of color are raising kids far more than gay white guys – but it is nonetheless refreshing to see it getting this kind of exposure.  LGBTQ people are thought of in the collective imagination as a group of wealthy, educated white people, and because almost no data collection captures the rest of us, social programs that address our needs are a hard sell.

What really pleases me about the data and this article, though, is the way that it shatters assumptions of where gay people are geographically.  In fact, we are everywhere, and I am ready to be done with antiquated ideas of New York and San Francisco being the only good places to be gay.   I am ready to start centering the experiences of our southern queers, our rural queers, our poor queers, our immigrant queers, our queer people of color; that people in these communities do have particular struggles, but that we also resist, and live vibrant, rich lives.

I live in New York City, and I always recoil a little when a fellow New Yorker talks about the south, the midwest, or rural areas as if they were filled with ignorant, homophobic masses.  This class-tinged insult – because let’s be clear, much of this is as much about class as it is about geography – is sadly common, and I’m ready to be done with it.

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A woman at a rally holds a sign that says "Support Higher Education"

Photo credit: Think Progress

I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.

-Stephen Jay Gould

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I started streaming C-Span and made breakfast.  The Senate was talking about immigrants and gay people at the same time, something so unusual that it struck me as amazing – even if they didn’t exactly realize that sometimes immigrants are gay, that sometimes gay people are immigrants.

As I ate I watched  the Senate effectively repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and kill the DREAM Act; and I was crushed.  I know DREAM wasn’t perfect – I am not a fan of the military, and I know that recruiters must have been salivating at the thought of newly-available low-income people of color to send off to die in our greedy wars.  But the Senate’s vote that we, immigrants, are not worthwhile, not equals…just puts a heavy weight on my chest.  And sure, it’s good that DADT isn’t around anymore, but making a totally fucked up institution slightly less so doesn’t quite feel like that much of a victory for me.  It makes me glad my queer friends who love military folk can rest a bit, but even as an indicator of how the country feels about gay people, the repeal of DADT hardly brings any relief for me because  I know that vote is a reflection of a certain kind of “acceptable” gay – not the immigrant queers, the radical homos of color, the queer weirdos who resist assimilation. Not my people.  My heart is heavy for them – for us – and for the young people who have put themselves at risk by being outspoken about being undocumented.

But they are wrong about us.  They are on the wrong side of history.  And after we cry, we pick up the pieces and keep moving.  Forward.  Always.

Red umbrella (symbol of sex workers' rights) with text underneath saying "International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers"

Today is the 7th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, and there are events around the country and the world to recognize this day.  If you are in New York City, join the Sex Workers Project and co-sponsoring organizations at a free event to hear some awesome speakers and participate in a community speak-out:

Friday, December 17 · 7:30pm – 9:30pm

Metropolitan Community Church of New York

446 West 36th Street, Second Floor Sanctuary

New York, NY

The first-ever International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was in 2003, as a response to serial killer Gary Ridgway, who claimed to have killed prostitutes because he thought no one would notice:

“I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”

It’s important to remember, though, that violence against sex workers is not only perpetuated by violent clients, but also by the state through through the criminalization of sex work. Criminalization disproportionately affects women of color, immigrants, and gender non-conforming people, and is a reproductive justice issue.

I personally want to take this day to send my love to my dear friends and loved ones who are or have been sex workers – I appreciate you.  Big ups to the hos!

My favorite all-immigrant band, Gogol Bordello, has an awesome new video I want to share with y’all.  Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher), from the band’s latest album, Transcontinental Hustle, is an awesome portrayal of immigrant life and resistance, based on the band members’ own experiences with immigration:

Read the rest of this entry »

A woman at a rally holds a sign that says "Support Higher Education"

Photo credit: Think Progress

The buzz around the DREAM Act right now is heating up.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced last week that he would offer DREAM as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill, and that it would come to a vote soon.  The DREAM Act, first introduced in 2001, would allow undocumented youth who came to the United States before the age of 16 a path to U.S. citizenship through through completion of either two years of education or military service.  A key part of this is that this bill would give young people a conditional permanent residency for a few years while they complete these requirements, and during this time they would be eligible for federal financial aid to complete school, which is currently a huge barrier for most undocumented youth who want to continue with school:  if you’re not a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, unless you’ve got the money to pay tuition, you’re out of luck.  And this what immigrant youth advocating for the DREAM Act have been fighting for – just a chance to be able to make it in the country most of them feel is their home. Read the rest of this entry »

Picture of a rally against Arizona's SB1070.  There is a person holding a sign that says "sb1070: guilty of being brown" and a person in a pink hat holding an american flag.

Photo credit: Huffington Post

There’s a great article over at Tikkun Daily by my dear friend Josh Healey, in which he talks about how the current immigration fight against SB1070 in Arizona and the rest of the country is just the tip of the iceberg.  He asks us to look at why folks are immigrating:

Let’s be clear: NAFTA is currently the single greatest cause of migration to the United States. NAFTA, which eliminated most trade and investment barriers between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, was pitched to the peoples of all three nations as an instrument to improve the economic fortunes of all the parties involved. Instead, the agreement (like others the U.S. has signed with countries in the Global South over the last two decades) has been a bonanza for corporations and a disaster for everyone else. With no more tariffs, U.S.-subsidized corn flooded Mexico with impossibly cheap prices, destroying the livelihood of over two million Mexican farmers, many of whom have since migrated to the States.

Josh continues to talk about a North American Union leading to open borders – it’s a great piece, and I recommend you go over and read the whole thing.  The mainstream dialogue about immigration doesn’t include too many people talking about its root causes, and it is an absolutely critical conversation.  We need to call out the unjust policies that make some countries rich while making others poor, and the mass displacement it’s causing globally. Read the rest of this entry »