How ‘Undocuqueer’ Immigrants Straddle Two Marginalized Identities
by Steven Blum
November 01, 2017
There are approximately 11 million undocumented people in the US. According to the Williams Institute, an LGBTQ legal think tank, an estimated 267,000 of them are LGBTQ-identified. For queer undocumented immigrants, straddling two stigmatized communities can be an emotionally exhausting and marginalizing experience. But those who identify as “undocuqueer” have also been instrumental to the immigrant rights movement, playing prominent roles in mass protests and in bringing the stories of undocumented people to mass audiences.
Jesus Cisneros, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, has devoted a good chunk of his academic career to studying the lives of people who’ve wrestled with this “hybridized” identity. He’s watched the broader DREAMer movement come to fully embrace its LGBTQ subset, where in the past, he said, “individuals who identified as LGBTQ [within the movement] were told not to share their identities, and to rely on talking points instead”—essentially pushing them back into the closet. Under Trump, he continued, the pattern is repeating itself.