Human Rights Campaign forced an undocumented gay back into the closet

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Human Rights Campaign

Dreamers want the Human Rights Campaign to apologize for allegedly prohibiting a Dreamer from sharing his experience of being a queer undocumented young immigrant during a rally outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday. (Photo by Jorge Gutierrez)

A Dreamer wants the Human Rights Campaign to apologize for allegedly prohibiting him from sharing his experience of being a queer undocumented young immigrant during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“My name is Jerssay Arredondo. I am undocumented, queer, unashamed and unafraid,” he says in a YouTube video released Thursday. “I’m sharing these identities with you right now because yesterday morning, I was forced back into the closet.”

Dreamer told not to talk about experience as an ‘undocuqueer’ immigrant

Arredondo is a member of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), which was recently formed by United We Dream (UWD) Network. The group was invited by the Human Rights Campaign to speak at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the same day the justices heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Defense of the Marriage Act (DOMA).

Arredondo was selected to speak on the group’s behalf. He said that prior to getting on stage, someone from the Human Rights Campaign revised his speech.

“I was told not to share the reality of what it means to be an undocuqueer immigrant in this country,” he says in the video.

Imelda Plascencia, another QUIP member, also appears in the YouTube video. She says the experiences that LGBT people who are undocumented “are not acknowledged but rather continue to be pushed into the closet and excluded from dominant narrative.”

“It is not enough for LGBT communities to say that they are in solidarity with our struggle,” Plascencia says in the video. “Solidarity is love reflected through actions and support.”

Alma Leyva, also a QUIP member, concludes the video asking the Human Rights Campaign to apologize for revising Arredondo’s speech.

“As an immigrant youth movement, we hold each other accountable and we will hold LGBT and immigrant rights organizations accountable to ensure that we are working toward social justice for all,” Leyva says. “In order to ensure continued solidarity, we are asking for a public apology from the Human Rights Campaign’s leadership.”

VOXXI made a request to get a statement from the Human Rights Campaign regarding the allegations but didn’t receive a response. Members of QUIP also hadn’t heard back from the group as of Thursday evening, a United We Dream spokesperson told VOXXI.

Human Rights Campaign also criticized by transgender community

The YouTube video comes as the Human Rights Campaign faces criticism for asking transgender activists to take down their flag from a podium at the same rally that Arredondo attended.

Several activists claim someone from the Human Rights Campaign asked them to remove the flag because “marriage equality is not a transgender issue.” But the national equal rights group’s communications director, Michael Cole-Schwartz, denied the allegations.

Cole-Schwartz issued a statement to qnotes saying, “It is a [sic] not true to suggest that any person or organization was told their flag was less important than another—this did not occur and no HRC staff member would ever tolerate such behavior. To be clear, it is the position of the Human Rights Campaign that marriage is an issue that affects everyone in the LGBT community.”

He also explained that the Human Rights Campaign agreed prior to the rally to mainly feature American flags during Wednesday’s program as a way to “illustrate this unifying issue.” That’s why, he said, some people who were carrying a flag that was not an American flag were asked to move.

“Several people refused and they were allowed to stay,” Cole-Schwartz stated. “The coalition welcomed the variety of signs and flags that were throughout the plaza that demonstrated the wonderful diversity of our community.”

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