On Friday Sept. 1 LOGO, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, will present the new documentary "Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America."
The film focuses on the battles being waged by Moises Serrano, an undocumented immigrant in rural North Carolina, to obtain his share of the American dream.
Serrano came to the U.S. with his parents when he was 18 months old. They crossed the border illegally, looking to escape the extreme poverty which plagued them in Mexico – all Serrano's parents wanted was to work so they could provide a decent home, clothing and food for their children. They worked hard for many years and appear to be happy with the comfortable and safe trailer park abode which has become their family homestead.
Serrano, in his early twenties when the film was shot, has his own set of issues to deal with. In addition to looking over his shoulder wondering if immigration agents will come knocking at his door, Serrano is gay, which is a major taboo in the small, primarily white and conservative community they live in.
As filmmaker Tiffany Rhynard's camera rolls, Serrano steps out of the shadows and fearlessly announces his status not only as undocumented, but as a Queer Latino man. He speaks eloquently on campuses, in churches and to community groups about the challenges faced by illegal immigrants--some of whom fled their native countries out of fear of violence.
How do they obtain social security numbers, driver's licenses or find work in a country which does not recognize them? Why are they stigmatized and penalized for wanting the kind of decent life which others take for granted?
Several times throughout the film we see Serrano with his family. We meet his mom, a woman who's obviously graduated from the school of hard knocks. And yet she appears to be happy. Happy with her modest home. Happy for her children, who have easier lives than she did. Happy to still be in the USA.
Auteur Rhynard also introduces viewers to Serrano'a boyfriend Brandon. They're an adorably sweet couple. As they sit in their apartment they playfully argue about who's the better cook. When the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down DOMA--the Defense of Marriage Act--the couple discusses the possibility of marriage. Serrano is overwhelmed by the court's decision and can barely speak. For him the fall of DOMA represents the first time the U.S. government has acknowledged his existence.
Much of Serrano's activism centers around his fight to protect DACA--the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program which helps young people obtain work permits, driver's licenses and protections from deportations--obviously it's a program from which Serrano has personally benefited. DACA enables him to think about attending college.
When all is said and done "Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America" paints an eloquent portrait of what it means to be an illegal immigrant in the U.S. It's a film which needs to be shown on a network like CBS, where more people can see it, so that more minds can be changed. "Forbidden" tells us what we should already know--that the undocumented should not be judged but embraced and recognized as the human beings they are.
"Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America" will air on Logo several times throughout September and will be available at Logo On Demand for about a month.
For more information on how you can get involved with this cause, please visit: forbidden.logotv.com