By Christopher Covington

March 21st, 2015 was National Coming Out Of The Shadows Day. Our Southern CA Organizers in the ‪#‎QUEERDOM Youth Council, united and marched with other activists and organizers for justice and liberation at the San Fernando Valley Coming Out of The Shadows action this past weekend.

The San Fernando Valley Immigrant Youth Coalition, Somos Familia Valle, and the San Fernando Valley Dream Team sponsored the event, which brought together LGBTQ and Immigrant justice activists.  “National Coming Out of the Shadows started in Chicago, Illinois on March 10th, 2010 when undocumented youth declared to be “UNDOCUMENTED AND UNAFRAID” at Federal Plaza, facing the immigration and federal office building,” The organizers wrote of the event.  “March is National Coming Out Of The Shadows Month, a time when immigrant communities across the country reclaim public spaces and gather to highlight undocumented stories, challenge unjust immigration laws, and address the pervasive exclusion of our most vulnerable and marginalized populations from comprehensive relief. ”

GSA Network activists and Queerdom leaders were excited to show support, solidarity and build community.  “The Coming Out Of the Shadows action was very touching. It not only opened my eyes to the reality of deportation but it also gave me an inside look on how those who are fighting against the deportation of straight and/or queer people of color. I would like to see people in my community taking action and spreading effects not only the families of those who are deported but also the communities in which one lives. I wanted to be a part of this event to show my support for awareness around this growing issue because there are many people that are unaware of this, and they need to be informed,” says Emily Fernandez, a GSA Network Queerdom Organizer.

Of the day, GSA Network’s Southern CA Regional Manager, Ronnie Veliz, who is also Director of Somos Familia Valle said, “Today, undocumented youth and parents are publicly revealing their status and empowering youth and families to come out of the shadows to put an end to deportations and family separations. As Trans and Queer Youth Power movement, we are familiar with being directly impacted by discrimination, exclusion, and lack of acceptance. Being queer is not our only identity. Undocuqueer youth and families will be present and at the forefront of this march. The stories shared at this Coming Out of The Shadows covered a broad spectrum of people of color excluded from relief from deportation. The representation of women power was clearly present. An undocumented Latina mom of a young queer student spoke about how she doesn’t qualify for President Barack Obama’s recent executive action. A young woman of color who is a Deferred Action recipient spoke about the exclusion of her parents from relief. A third woman of color shared about how ICE arrived to her home and took her husband away from her. Other stories included solitary confinement and excessive force imposed on our community members of color in order to push for their deportations.”

“Coming out of the Shadows 2015 was powerful. Initially, I wanted to attend to show my support and meet more people in the undocu-queer community. However, in attending, I got so much more. I got to hear the stories of a number of undocumented womyn of color, and as I listened, I felt the depth of the hardships that they had faced and continue to face. I was able to gain a much broader perspective and to realize how terrible the U.S. government treats undocumented folx. Nevertheless, despite having the odds stacked against them, these womyn stood tall…and to me, they epitomized what it really means to be resilient. Teary-eyed and standing tall, I realized that this event and others like it have a powerful ability to empower others to make a difference in a world that harbors so much hate. Looking back at my experience at this transformative event, I feel empowered, and I feel confident in saying that my fellow GSA Youth Leaders feel exactly the same way,” added, Jonathan Azterbaum another GSA Network Queerdom Organizer.

To learn more about National Coming Out of the Shadows Month & get involved locally:

Watch Univison coverage of the event here: