#somosOrlando – Paola Saldaña

On the pain of (in)visibility as a queer Latinx immigrant.

This summer marks ten years since I moved to the United States from Mexico. To this day, I spend much time trying to justify my migration to myself. Even though I do not talk about it at length, my queerness is why I moved here. I came to this country not because Mexican culture is homophobic, but because I never once met an openly queer woman in Mexico, and I felt so alone. I came for a chance to experience visibility.

To this day, even though my accent has mostly faded, I struggle with culture shock and a perpetual feeling of grief. I grieve my culture, my tongue, my family, the food, the mountains and my past. I can now say that I am visible. As a queer person. When I migrated, I did not quite understand, however, that I was going to have to give up other forms of visibility.

#somosOrlando - Paola Saldaña
#somosOrlando – Paola Saldaña

As a light-skinned Mexican, I am never surprised when people do not read me as a Latinx, in fact, I recognize that this is a privilege that makes it safer for me to navigate this county. This erasure is deeply painful, though, particularly when it occurs in queer spaces. Because the reality is that there are very few spaces that we can occupy in which one identity is as relevant as the other, spaces where we can celebrate this intersection of who we are, areas where we can feel safe.

Pulse on Saturday nights was that space; so for the past week, I have felt a particular grief that is a constant reminder of how unsafe we are when we are visible, and how painful it is to be erased by white queers and the media.

And to the familia which we lost, hasta la victoria siempre.