We asked this question to Jade J., an immigrant and member/volunteer with one of our partner organizations, The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP). Below is an excerpt of the powerful response. We encourage you to read Jade’s full narrative on QDEP’s website.
“For our LGBTQ+ community, the question ‘‘what does home mean to you?’’ has lots of different answers: for some, it’s a different country, for others, their chosen family and partners, for some others it is yet to be found as we discover ourselves. For me, home is wherever I feel safe and have my family around.
I want to be back with those people that go out of their way to make me happy in ways they don’t even realize. Those that share jokes just because they always want to. I want things to be simple, I want to be remembered, not just an afterthought. I want to be able to express joy in a way my body can feel it and makes sense to me. I want to share who I am without being afraid of the repercussions, I want to ask others how they’re doing, without it being snooping or intrusive. I want words to have the same meaning for all of us. I want someone to tell me “somos familia” and feel the warmth peace brings when you know you can count on someone, no matter what happens. I want to believe and trust when people say “we’re friends!” And know that I can help and protect my friends. I want to make silly mistakes that don’t feel like I must be punished. I want to say “story” instead of “history” without feeling that I have to do damage control. I want to hug my little sister and feel how much she has grown, and that she knows how much I love her. I want to cook for my family without feeling afraid to dance while I do it, I want to give mom my phone and know she will play “the good music”. I want to share with my family the experiences I have had in this new world that surrounds me, that I can be excited about things they’ll understand. That we can be thankful about the same things. I just want to feel I’m still normal, that I’m not just a puppet performing for a show…
A lot has happened this year for all of us. There’s no denying that.
But as migrants, seeing our family restores balance. It reminds us who we are and why we are here, why this – despite all the hardships – is still the right choice. We remember that, even in a land like this one, both full and empty, we have the best of both worlds. For migrants, being with family represents loosening the strings the puppet has to walk with on a daily basis, be worry free and just enjoy a moment that stays with us forever. To heal. We are thankful for every opportunity, and once we recharge that “amor de casa,” the fog lifts, and we are happy. The sun shines just for us, even through the rain and snow, six feet apart.
Read Jade’s full narrative of what “home” means as an LGBTQ+ migrant on QDEP’s website. It is powerful and important. >
The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP) is a post-release support, detention center visitation, direct service, and community organizing project that works with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Two Spirit, Trans, Intersex, Gender Non- Conforming, and HIV+ (LGBTQIA* GNC TS) immigrant prisoners and their families currently in detention centers, those that have been recently released from detention centers, and those at risk at entering immigration detention in the Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York)