Queer Undocumented Youth Leaders Push for Inclusive Immigration Reform: "Legislation Must Recognize Our Humanity"

Queer Undocumented Youth Leaders Push for Inclusive Immigration Reform: “Legislation Must Recognize Our Humanity”











United We Dream’s Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) are in Washington, D.C., committing to organize and advocate for a pathway to citizenship and LGBTQ family inclusion for 11 million Americans without papers. QUIP leaders will attend an event called “The LGBT Undocumented” this afternoon at the Washington, D.C.-based progressive think tank Center for American Progress.

United We Dream will hold an 11 Million Coming Out Week of Action, with coordinated activities happening across the country, driving calls and online actions to key Senators like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and urging LGBTQ inclusion in any legislative proposal. Dreamers and their parents will share their personal stories and experiences, elevating the need for immigration reform that puts all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. on the road to citizenship.

“Undocuqueer leaders across the country are calling for a pathway for citizenship that doesn’t leave anyone behind. We will not choose one issue over the other,” said Jorge Gutierrez, United We Dream’s Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) Coordinator. “Protecting the unity of our immigrant families and dignity of our LGBTQ communities is at the center of our organizing and advocacy efforts.”

The event, and the ongoing work of QUIP, will shine a light on issues that affect the LGBTQ undocumented community, ensuring that those most affected are at the core of efforts and conversations around immigration reform.

Queer undocumented youth leaders are also calling on all immigration reform organizations to stand up and demand the inclusion of LGBTQ families in any immigration reform proposals and inviting mainstream LGBTQ advocacy organizations to engage in the immigration debate to push for inclusive reform. By pledging to “come out,” using a concept that originated in the LGBTQ rights movement, and asking LGBTQ groups to “come out” with the undocumented community, QUIP leaders are bridging the two struggles.

“As a person of multiple identities, I want to ensure that the different facets of my life no longer have to be divided and made to settle,” said Alma Leyva, a QUIP leader from Orange County, CA. “Winning immigration reform that is not inclusive to LGBTQ community would uplift one identity while continuing to marginalize another. I want immigration reform to recognize all of my humanity.”

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Posted in Queer News, Slidebar

An Interview with Trevor Thomas with Corey Lambert

An Interview with Trevor Thomas with Corey Lambert

LGBT activist Trevor Thomas has served as deputy communications director for the Human Rights Campaign, communications director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by leading a grassroots communications effort that included a youth outreach plan featuring Lady Gaga. In 2012, at the age of 28, Trevor ran for a congressional seat in Michigan’s 3rd district. Although his bid was unsuccessful, Trevor managed to collect endorsements from former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, former Massachusetts State Representative Barney Frank and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, among others.

Having grown up less than fifty miles from the red-leaning Michigan district where Trevor ran, I paid close attention to his congressional race and was inspired by the courage he showed not only in entering, but in doing so as an openly gay candidate.

Because of his LGBT activism and our shared Michigan roots, I reached out to Trevor this week to discuss what he’s doing now, how he’s continuing to make a difference in the LGBT community and where he finds inspiration.

CL: What are you up to these days?
TT: I’m working for a group called Americans for Tax Fairness. We’re pushing as hard as we can to make sure any deal in Washington includes new tax revenues. There are a couple of ways to do it, including corporate tax reform and eliminating loopholes that are legally allowing companies to avoid paying their fair share of taxes or, in some cases, no taxes at all. Most folks seem to agree they’d rather see big multinational companies pay up rather than themselves, but I’ve been surprised by how many folks seem to not care about the tax code and how royally we’re screwed.

CL: How are you making a difference in the LGBT community?
TT: I would love to make an attempt at explaining how tax equality impacts gays, but I’ll leave that alone.

In the past I’ve worked on a number of LGBT issues and I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that we in the LGBT community need to be ready to act when our political power is at its peak. I’m pressing this point as our movement may be hitting another peak soon. With two major cases in front of the Supreme Court (DOMA and Prop 8), we’re likely to have more momentum and I’m hopeful we’ll harness it well. One thing I feel confident in saying is that our movement gains when we realize how to get things done and by not always accepting what party leaders tell us.

Today I see a big space for helping young people and LGBT people get elected to office. Our movement isn’t doing all it can do when it comes to helping viable candidates and I think we can improve in big ways. I hope to be able to share some of those ideas publicly very soon.

CL: What LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
TT: Young people killing themselves will always be my personal passion as I’ll never forget my own story. As a once suicidal teen, I worked to start an LGBT speaker’s bureau at my college, raised money for The Trevor Project and worked to spread the word about the It Gets Better Project.

I also think it’s important how full circle I’ve come personally with my family, specially with my mom and dad. I wrote an opinion piece in The Grand Rapids Press in 2011 where I shared parts of that story.

I was 19 years old when I came out. It was 2004. I had driven from my campus apartment at Grand Valley State to my parents’ house in Marne in the same Chevy Camaro I had once contemplated running into a tree. The altar-boy at St. Mary’s Catholic Church (third grade through sophomore year) knew that homosexuality was a sin, but suicide was, too.

Mom sat on the couch and my dad on the loveseat. I debated if I should use the word “gay” — which I despised for its stigma — or “homosexual.” I went with gay. My mom pulled my college funding.

Having brought no guys around my family, I had never given them the opportunity to show how much they loved me. I went from 19 to 28 not so thrilled with their reactions from a decade ago, but they stepped up in the summer of 2012. Running for office nearly broke me and they saw it. They saw the weight loss. They saw my getting sick. They saw the stress that even the campaign staff didn’t fully understand. What really shocked me was their willingness to do whatever it took. Sure, they donated as General Motors retirees with limited income and it meant something to me, but they became furious at the inequality of politics. They were furious we were raising cash for ten hours a day and our opponent just wrote a check and matched us. They were furious they worked the lines of GM and no matter how hard they worked the United Auto Workers endorsed against us. With total spending within reach of our opponent, they wanted to mortgage whatever assets they had for me to compete, though, to be clear, were not able to do it legally given contribution limits.

When the media reported our loss, they were emotional. My dad hugged me. My mother was even a bit tipsy. It was a moment I can’t forget. It was real. And I think losing could very well have been the best thing that ever happened to us.

CL: Can you name the one person whose contribution to the LGBT community has inspired you most?
TT: Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mom.
My parents have a cottage in Irons, Michigan. It’s pretty remote and smack dab in the middle of the Manistee National Forest. It wasn’t long ago when I was sitting alone at the bar of the local tavern listening to the folks around me, all of them commenting loudly when Barack Obama showed up on the TV. The disdain was shocking to me and the level of racism in Lake County seems marked by the number of homes flying confederate flags. Yes, people still do that and it’s no joke to them.

I think of their rage and their anger every time I see a celebrated success in the LGBT movement. We’re largely a new movement compared to that of the civil rights movement and yet deep levels of racism are still present in our country. I think we should be mindful of this as we move forward in our so-called equality. While laws will change, I fear supportive hearts and minds in large urban areas encompassing large numbers of LGBT people and folks who support them creates a seemingly systemic false impression of just how far we’ve come.
Judy Shepard was asked why she speaks to so many people at so many schools in so many places around the country when the folks who attend likely already support her. She answered boldly, “Because even the choir needs preaching sometimes.” And she’s right. She pressed that we all remain mindful that there is still, every day, a gay or trans person in places like Irons who think they’re the only one. The only one with those deep feelings they don’t dare talk about. They think they’re alone. And guess what, they really are. Running water is not always common, so forget the Internet. Forget Twitter or YouTube. And with home schooling, don’t assume kids have access to outside opinion.

CL: If you had to recommend one book, movie or song with an LGBT bent, what would your recommendation be?
TT: I’d recommend the song “For Good” by Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth from the Broadway musical Wicked. I’ll just note that the song kept me going and reminded me that I was not alone.

To connect with Trevor, follow him on Twitter.

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Utopia from Kerli – Giveaway

Utopia from Kerli – Giveaway

Enter to win Utopia from Kerli! All you have to do is sign up for our weekly newsletter below! Already signed up, no problem. Just comment on this post to be to be thrown into the fish bowl! We are thrilled that we can bring you weekly giveaways, so keep checking out The Qu for more GREAT prizes!

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the brand-new EP from dance-pop sensation


Featuring the #1 Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart-topper “The Lucky Ones” plus new tracks “Love Me Or Leave Me,” “Sugar” and more!

Available March 19

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Posted in Feature, Music

From My Kitchen To Yours with Marc Sievers

From My Kitchen To Yours with Marc Sievers

Tune in to the latest webisode of From My Kitchen To Yours! Marc demonstrates how to make the perfect treat for your four-legged family members. Your dog will love this healthy and puppy-approved Peanut Butter Puppenheimer cookie, named for Lady von Puppenheimer the CPO (Cute Puppy Officer) at Marc-Ryan & Co.

Marc Sievers

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Posted in Slidebar

Marcia's Law – The Kindness of Strangers

Marcia’s Law – The Kindness of Strangers

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
-Blanche Dubois “A Streetcar Named Desire”

I could hear them; talking loudly, calling to each other, gathering their things even as I pounded on the solidly locked basement door. There was no bell. The window was boarded up. The stairwell, a typical Chicago cement entryway, was littered, chipped, and pitted; the paint on the metal railings was peeling and flaking.

When the door opened, a young woman greeted me with a cheery hello and showed me to the kitchen; a tiny, filthy room in which not an inch of space could be spared for putting down my things. I peeked out the window where they were, still talking, still gathering, still pulling themselves together. These were LGBTQ homeless youths who had managed, through a lottery system, to secure a warm place to sleep for the night.

There were about twenty of them that morning. They had been awakened and told to get moving. So, they dragged their mats across the linoleum-tiled floor into the storage room, took showers in the community bathroom, and tried to pull themselves together. The clock was ticking. It was 7:45 already, and they had to be out by 9:00 A.M.

We brought them breakfast; scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, ham and egg casserole, waffles, French toast, biscuits, orange juice, and bananas. One by one, they came for the food. Some shy; some boisterous; some angry; others cheerful and smiling. They looked tired, worn, uncared for. They loaded up their plates, came back for seconds, took the crackers, oranges, sweet breads, and leftovers in baggies…they didn’t know where their next meal would come from.

They thanked us, each and every one of them. And then, they left.

“Where will they go?” I asked. “It’s freezing out there.” “They’ll try to find a warm place to stay for the day. They’ll move from place to place, depending upon whether or not they get kicked out. They’ll just try to stay warm until they find a place to stay tonight,” responded the single staff member as, he too, ate breakfast.

These are the kids who, for a variety of reasons, no longer have a home to go to or a family that cares for them. They are “throw away” children, and they are totally dependent on the kindness of strangers.

But, these young people had been lucky. The previous night, they had secured a spot in this shelter, and this morning, anyway, they were getting a hot breakfast. However, according to the National Homeless Fact Sheet, “LGBT persons often have great difficulty finding shelters that accept and respect them. 20% of homeless youth are LGBT. In comparison, the general youth population is only 10% LGBT”. These then, were the lucky ones.

I wondered what these kids would be doing if they still lived at home. The youngest, perhaps still in high school, might be sleeping in, then visiting family, finally settling down to tackle the homework that had been put off all weekend. The older ones, if they were in college, might head for the library to study, hang out in the dorm, or meet at the Student Union for a cup of coffee. Those who worked might use the day off to visit one of the many museums the city has to offer, take a drive, or go to the movies.

But these young men and women would spend the day on the streets. Some might panhandle or prostitute themselves for a few dollars. Others might try to find a warm place to hang out. And a few might actually visit a friend. But most of them would wander aimlessly around the streets of Chicago; unwanted, uncared for, abandoned, and alone.

This experience caused me to reflect upon my own perspectives about homelessness. Seeing it up close and realizing the hardships they face every single day made me realize that I need to extend myself a little more. Is it so hard to throw a dollar in a cup every once in a while? Is it too much to buy someone a cup of coffee? Is it asking a lot to volunteer my time to help those so clearly in need?

I think I know the answer…and I believe that, while I can’t change their circumstances completely, I can make things a little easier with small acts of kindness. We all can…and by performing these small acts, we make our own lives a little richer. THAT is why the kindness of strangers is so important.

…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…

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Posted in Lifestyle, Slidebar

Christine Quinn Launches Her NYC Mayoral Campaign

Christine Quinn Launches Her NYC Mayoral Campaign

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made it official over the weekend. She’s running to succeed Mike Bloomberg as mayor of the New York. Quinn initially made the announcement in a five-minute video on her campaign Web site that was quintessential Quinn.

Christine Quinn

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Posted in Queer News, Slidebar

RuPaul's Drag Race – Episode 7

RuPaul’s Drag Race – Episode 7

It is good to see that Alaska and Coco have joined the competition again! On a whole this season has been pretty lame, I haven’t even chose a favorite yet, but last night there was a certain spark that we haven’t seen yet.

In this weeks episode the girls challenge is to roast RuPaul. I have said it many times, drag queens must be a complete package. And part of completing that package is humor. If you aren’t a funny queen, then why are you on stage? Once again we see this competition is full of just pretty girls, and that is it.

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Posted in Entertainment
July 2018
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