By Moises Duran
Today I want to remind everyone to not be afraid!
People ask me if I am scared. Why would I be scared, I ask?
Because I am Mexican?
Because I am gay?
Because I let my voice be heard?
I am not afraid, and you know why?
Because I am part of a united community that supports and celebrates my existence!
I was born in Michoacán Mexico. At the age of 18 I moved to California. like many others I was running away from something – violence, perhaps corruption, poverty, to name a few. But for me it was my sexual orientation.
I am gay and this country has given me the self-confidence, safety and guarantee that my human rights would be protected. But I have come to realize that these promises will not survive under this new presidency.
We had a president who supported LGBTQ rights and still saw many transgender people murdered, including that of Jasmine Sierra from Bakersfield, and now, with a new president that has spoken against my community, I think it is time to stand up and fight this battle.
I fled Mexico because it’s not easy to grow up in a home where you don’t feel safe, where you can’t be yourself, where your own brothers turn their back on you and your mother looks away from the reality of her son. It’s not easy to attend a Catholic school where the way you walk, talk or dress “is not appropriate”. It’s not easy to keep a positive image of what your life will be when the media only shows death, pain and hate towards my identity. It’s not easy to have to avoid talking about your partner because your family lacks the heart to understand that what you feel is real love. It’s not easy that your family give you a smile but when you turn around they’d judge you and criticize you. It’s not easy walking down the street holding your partner’s hand with pride when you see people with looks that, if they could kill, I would’ve lost my life over and over again.
I have fought an inner battle all my life, which took me to drinking until I lost consciousness, took me to the darkest of places, even considered committing suicide, and I thought I would never be able to get out. With therapy, antidepressants, and anxiety medication, I got out. And I am here, stronger than ever. And now I fight for my rights.
I keep fighting with all I got. I did not chose to be discriminated or judged and as someone that has suffered because of their sexual identity I tell you that no one deserves this pain. I was lucky to find strength in my community and in my closest family and that is why I want to share the dramatic impact that a family can have in the life of an LGBTQ individual. I want to promote acceptance. There are a lot of benefits that can protect the well-being of an LGBTQ individual and protect them from risk such as mental health problems, higher incidence of HIV, STDs, drug use, and in some cases suicide. I want to ask everyone to get educated and to educate those around us since we live in such a county that is growing more conservative as I write. We have to bring awareness, we have to help one another. This is the moment that we are all going to have to unite, respect one another and fight to keep our schools, or communities and our homes safe.
What awaits us for the next 4 years? Who is going to be there to support us? Who is going to fight by my side?
Moises Duran, 27, is a community activist and an organizer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation.