Since its founding five years ago, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, an organization that advocates for queer Latinx communities, has been working on the ground to educate, organize and ultimately liberate queer, Latinx immigrants.This weekend, from May 15 through 17, the national organization comes to Philadelphia for its first national conference: Mi Existires es Resistir 2019 National Encuentro.
Emilio Vicente, the communications manager for Familia TQLM and an organizer of the conference, said the “powerful” weekend will bring together 150 trans or queer Latinx activists and advocates from across the country for a weekend of lectures and presentations, networking and celebrating.
“There aren’t many spaces like this for the trans and queer Latinx community,” he said. “For many of the people coming this weekend, I think they’re going to resonate with having a space for us.
“All of this is personal to me because I’m undocumented and I’m queer,” he added. “And I’ve never been to a space like this.”
The goal of the conference is to provide space for organizations to share strategies in a collaborative way — to learn and bring new ideas back to their respective communities. Familia hopes to achieve this by hosting three days of workshops about arts and culture, online and grassroots organizing, transformative justice and healing, trans and queer rights and racial justice.
“It’s an opportunity to meet other people across the country, be in solidarity and bring back what we learned to our own communities,” Vicente said.
But, he said, it’s also a celebration of the organization’s fifth birthday and successes thus far. Familia played a large part in the closing of Santa Ana Jail’s module for trans migrants, and they’re ready to celebrate that “win” as they look for new ways to grow. Right now, Familia is on the ground in 12 cities across the country.
“Overall, the east coast is the coast we want to focus on more in general,” he said. “We have a strong presence on the west coast, but obviously these issues face individuals across the country.”
“We chose Philadelphia [for the conference] because there is already a strong base here of people working with trans and queer immigrants,” he added.
Following the conference, Familia will bring its fight to Washington, D.C. when the organization rallies for Roxana Hernandez, a trans migrant who died in ICE custody last May. Familia organized a congressional briefing and a week of action, and Vicente said the organization is looking for ways to get the Philadelphia community involved. The conference this weekend, he hopes, will be a good opportunity to organize the local east coast communities for future collaborations.
The conference’s events will take place across three venues: Taller Puertorriqueño, the William Way LGBT Community Center and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Events include a plenary lecture, three workshops, a movie screening and Q&A, a drag brunch and an after party hosted by SEXx Philly.
“In general, the reason we exist is we want to ensure that people see that trans and queer issues, immigration issues and Latinx issues are not isolated,” Vicente said. “All of us have multiple identities.”
At the end of the day, our goal is for liberation and full acceptance of our communities across the country, and that all of our communities feel safe wherever they live.”