We are taking it back to house meetings. Family and friends often gather in the living room to talk freely and converse about life and socializing. When it came to me and Lucas working together with queer communities in Sacramento, however, that living room became a battleground of networking, sharing our stories, our tears, and our struggles.
One of my biggest challenges was indeed to have a heterosexual man understand the importance of unity. It was very important to work with him and expose him to some terms and past history on the intersections of the immigrant rights movement, and the LGBTQ rights movement. There was no major effort for an undocumented student to differ from both. After preparing to mobilize our community, it was very satisfying to hear a heterosexual man to say, “I see no difference from me and you, we’re both being oppressed in our communities. We’re both denied human rights.”
The first person to connect in the city was Xico Gonzalez: a cultural & political “Artivist” poet based in Sacramento, California. After he shared his story with us, he rapidly connected us with some friends to organize some gatherings around the city. That’s how I met the amazing mujer Fatima.
Fatima Castaneda opened her heart and house to the campaign for an American DREAM, not only to get to hear our stories, but to connect others with our Campaign and the immigrant rights movement.
The lurid moment I walked into her home, my tired eyes found warmth in the radiant colors the house; aquamarine blue and green decorated the opposite walls of the living room, a charcoal-brick fireplace against the main wall was covered with dormant books accommodated impatiently on their shelves, colorful pop art spoke of the struggles of queer woman of color, which welcomed the guests on a circular sequence of chairs and couches.
After cooking some amazing food for the guests, a circle of queer Mujeres and allies surrounded the living room.
I couldn’t tell her how much it meant to me to have women, at the forefront of this gathering, sharing their ideas, stories, advice, and their gregarious laughter. For a second I felt I had bumped into some old friends I hadn’t seen for years, and they welcomed me very dearly after a long journey. Truth was that that journey had barely begun a few days back and they were all complete strangers that had come together to get to know us, to support us unanimously.
“After the DREAM Act didn’t pass on 2010, a lot of us lost hope,” said Shared Susana, Fatima’s partner. As each of the participants continued to share their commitment to the campaign and how each of them will contribute to advocate for something they all believed it’s just and necessary for our community. Among the beautiful company, two mujeres were actually elementary teachers. It was very exciting to hear their input and concerns about undocumented children in their schools.
A few days have passed after this amazing dinner in which one thing was very clear to me: In the back of my head the voice of the zealous Grace Lee Boggs recounted a story:
“People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values.”
A new family of queer women and friends are organizing right now in Sacramento, empowered to inspire more people, just as much they had inspired my feminist side to stand up, take action, and create change. I can still hear their voices right now.