“Undocuqueer” panel unveils a tale of hidden struggle

Written by Fourth Estate Online Lifestyle Editor Arrielle Brooks

On March 6, the Mason DREAMers presented students with a unique event titled “Undocuqueer” in the Johnson Center.

Best known for their efforts to create more inclusive spaces for immigrant and undocumented students, the Mason DREAMers advocate and educate the public about the DREAM Act: a bill for development, relief, and education for alien minors.

According to the White House Blog, the DREAM Act “would give students who grew up in the United States a chance to contribute to our country’s well-being by serving in the U.S. armed forces or pursuing a higher education.” These students, who have known no other home, would be able to earn their legal status in the U.S. with the DREAM Act’s passage.

Yet, this is only part of why “Undocuqueer” was organized.

The Mason DREAMers wanted to share “a tale of two hidden identities,” undocumented and queer, that many students at Mason struggle with on a daily basis. Each of the speakers at the event stressed the importance of recognizing that no community has to stand alone. There are many undocumented individuals that are also part of the LGBTQ community, and “Undocuqueer” was one way to give these individuals a voice on campus.

The event started out with two heartfelt spoken word performances, both from speakers who struggle with their hidden identities as queer ethnic minorities. They performed narrative poems that reflected on their day-to-day experiences as well as broader issues like gender, feminism and racism in the U.S.

This trend continued when the moderator, Gerardine Mobley, opened up the floor for the panelists’ discussion. The three panelists answered questions about their own experiences and offered insight and advice for those curious about becoming allies to undocumented immigrants and the LGBTQ community.

“Undocuqueer’s” message was one of strength and resilience in the face of society’s multiple challenges. The panelists said that it was important for different movements to hold continuous dialogue with surrounding social and political systems. By sharing stories and creating safe spaces for displaced individuals, one movement’s influence can broaden and benefit another.

“It is our job to get those stories and listen to them,” one speaker said. “I won’t always have the energy to do it alone.”

The first step towards unity, another speaker emphasized, was to gain an understanding of different groups.

Above all, “Undocuqueer” encouraged students to embrace the fact that everyone is multidimensional and should love who they are—hidden identities and all.

(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Baires)