Gloria Nieto

Living at the intersection of yes and no

Filed By Gloria Nieto | December 19, 2010 5:30 PM | comments

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On Saturday, December 18, the United States Senate voted to block the DREAM Act from moving further in its path to citizenship. It immediately followed with a historic vote to dump the horrid Don't Ask Don't Tell law.

DREAM ActAs a queer Latina, I found myself in the same quandary as the night Prop 8 won and Barack Obama was elected President. I didn't know whether to cry or dance, weep or shout, be enraged or engaged. Instead I made cookies. There at least I have complete control over what happens.

As my mailbox quickly flooded with the joyous and angry messages from the different camps I wondered about the future.

Many of my Latino colleagues have talked about the bullying they have experienced from people in the LGBT community in cyberspace for their advocacy of both immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

Conversely, our Latino advocates have been so consumed with immigration that there was hardly a word spoken about DADT nor ENDA, which disappeared in this Congress.

Where are those of us who now live at the intersection of yes and no?

Yes, we can go in the military in the future if that is our choice. No, we can't be recognized as citizens if we came here with our families as children. The inequality remains for us throughout the land.

As the national political landscape begins its rapid change in the new year, where does that leave my community? We have a voice in California with Speaker of the House, John Perez. At the national level, not so much.

While angry voices talk about practical ideas such as withholding donations from Dems who voted against the DREAM act and regrouping for the next movida to gain equality, I wonder here what the future holds for the young queer people of color denied hope today.

As much as we talk about supporting our LGBT youth, can we support LGBT immigrant youth? Now that we have DADT, we need to get ENDA passed. But can we also be part of the movement to bring equality to everyone?

Many of our organizations have done work as allies in the immigration movement. There is a wide swath of organizations who understand the need to work in collaboration and who can see that equality for everyone means just that. Not just for queers, for the monied, for the whites only, that a true social justice movement is inclusive of all.

Right about now I can hear a certain groups of people screaming about law-breakers. But if I recall correctly, sodomy was illegal not too long ago. So was dancing with someone of the same gender. And marrying someone of a different race.

The country changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. But I heard the wail today of millions of Latinos across the country. It is the wail of lost hope and lost dreams.

I don't know what comes next for us in the Latino community, let alone the Latino/POC LGBT community.

All I know is the lesson I learned from my elders. When we are knocked down, eventually we get up again and fight another day.

Adelante hermanos y hermanas, will will see justice in our lifetimes.


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beachcomberT | December 20, 2010 7:00 AM

Of course we rejoice about the DADT repeal. But this Congress and this president have left so much work undone that they hardly deserve any pat on the back. Regardless of ideology, avoiding votes and letting bills die is not going to solve anything. People are dying, losing their homes and getting deported because of the inaction in Washington. I blame Republicans and Democrats equally.

R L Pete Housman | December 20, 2010 10:52 AM

The American Promise remains as it has always been
something offered but by hard sacrifice gained.

The failure of the Senate to advance a vote on the "Dream Act" was both short sighted and mean spirited. I am not disheartened however, we know what is Just and fair. Now we just need to find leadership who will accept that there is a real difference between politics and POLICY.
This Gay White Man- is ready to continue fighting for EQUALITY and JUSTICE for ALL of US in the A.

I think that the root issue here is the fact that most civil rights / social justice advocacy in America continues to focus on discrete single-issue advocacy groups rather than on the development of a holistic movement.

More specifically, American civil rights advocacy consistently follows a pattern of the most privileged subset of any given oppressed population using its relative privilege to establish itself in an exclusive leadership position over the entire group. It then uses that position to catapult itself into the halls of power, where it works exclusively for its own self-aggrandizement through cringing subservience to the social mainstream and an obsequious eagerness to make "reasonable compromises" in which the rights of everyone else are surrendered in order to guarantee gains for the elite.

In other words, it's classic Animal Farm -- "All are equal, but some are more equal than others."

Why wouldn't they support the Dream Act? There's no reason to keep people from becoming citizens, especially people who came over when they were minors.

Beautifully written, Gloria - and true. The disconnect between the two camps without much thought on how they connect and collide is amazing.