What Does It Mean to be an LGBT Latino in 2013?

If the federal government honors same-sex marriages, it is the hope of immigration reform advocates that undocumented families—gay, straight or otherwise—will not be separated from each other. It would also mean that undocumented LGBT immigrants who marry U.S. citizens would have access to long-term visas or citizenship.

That is the case with Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, the co-director of GetEQUAL. As an immigrant who overstayed his tourist visa at 14, Sousa-Rodriguez has worked relentlessly for his rights as an undocumented immigrant and a gay man.

“I am married to a man who will become a U.S. citizen this year. In other circumstances, if we were a couple of the opposite sex, he would be able to sponsor me and I would be able to get a green card and stay with him,” Sousa-Rodriguez said. And so immigration laws and LGBT rights intertwine.

To say the gay Latino identity has its social and political challenges is an understatement. Truly, immigration reform and LGBT rights seem to be equally as pressing matters to those who belong to both communities.

“I can’t say, ‘today I’m going to be an immigrant,’ and tomorrow ‘I’m a gay man,” that doesn’t work. I’m always both,” said Sousa-Rodriguez. “When I go out into the world I needs to have my immigration documentation, but I also need the legal protections of the law because of my sexual orientation. Otherwise, I can’t live a dignified life.”