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To Be Young, Openly Gay And Undocumented

Audio

Aired 1/20/11

Sergio is a 21-year-old college student in San Diego, majoring in business administration. He is openly gay and undocumented, having crossed the border illegally from Mexico with his family when he was 2.

The only photo that Sergio brought with him when he and his family crossed the border from Mexico as a kid. It was taken in 1992, when he was 2.
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Above: The only photo that Sergio brought with him when he and his family crossed the border from Mexico as a kid. It was taken in 1992, when he was 2.

— Sergio, who asked not to use his last name because of concerns about his personal safety, is a 21-year-old college student in San Diego, majoring in business administration. He is openly gay and undocumented, having crossed the border illegally from Mexico with his family when he was 2. He said his situation is complex.

"If you get to know me, you’ll know that I’m not typical—I’m not a typical guy," said Sergio. "Although I’m Mexican, I don’t like to be labeled as Mexican; although yes, I’m gay, and yes, I’m undocumented. And when it comes to being gay, I don’t put it out in the open. Why? Because I figure that it’s a more personal thing. It shouldn’t represent who I am if I don’t want it to."

Sergio said it was his family, and in particular his little sister, Lisbeth, who prevented him from committing suicide.

"I did a lot of stupid stuff," said Sergio. "My mom and my sisters, they took my wallet away, they took my cell phone away, they took my credit cards away—everything. I remember that I passed the whole week with $20. And I wouldn’t eat anything."

Sergio and his sister, Lisbeth, were always close.

"Since I was a girl, I always made him play with my stuff," said Lisbeth. "I always promised that I would play soldier with him, but I told him he had to play dolls with me first. There wasn’t really any boys around him when he was little, so it was hard for him—it was really hard."

Lisbeth said that accepting Sergio's sexual orientation wasn't easy.

"I guess we’re still working on it, but he never stopped being my brother," said Lisbeth. "And in my belief, it’s even harder because I’m a Christian and what I’ve been preached doesn’t allow my acceptance of it. But you can’t really just turn your back on your brother, you know?"

Mary Jewel has been Sergio's mentor, teach and family friend for almost a decade. She also helped Sergio get through some of his difficult times.

"He and I would chat online and he’s online saying—'I’m going to drop out of school, and I’m going to do this… Good-bye, and I might never see you again,' and I’m like, what?" recalled Jewel. "Then he shared a couple of experiences that he had and all I said was, 'This is what we need, let’s just get whatever medical attention we need.' And I think he knew that it wasn’t obviously going to make any difference to me because we love him for who he is, not who he dates."

Sergio said he's not sure what being gay is supposed to look like, but he is hopeful for his future.

"I don’t have that image of the gay guy—I’m still going to be that person that you know and at one point, wanted me to be," he said. "I think I’m really fortunate because I know who I am, I know what I deserve, I know what I have to offer. If I would just focus on the negative, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t."

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