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Virtual posada will raise funds for LGBTQ asylum seekers and immigrants

Fernanda is featured in "Before and After Detention," a short documentary by Armando Ibañez.
(Courtesy of Armando Ibañez)

The LGBTQ Center OC is putting a twist on this year’s posada.

Posadas recreate the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem in search of safe refuge, in which they are rejected multiple times before reaching a manger. Variations of the yearly religious-based event celebrated in Latin America are typically held in neighborhoods during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. The last house visited is expected to host a feast.

The center is taking the spirit of the celebration to give it a 2020 treatment — a virtual event with the goal to raise funds for LGBTQ asylum seekers and immigrants.

Jonatan Gutierrez, the center’s immigration outreach coordinator, who grew up in Mexico, remembers his whole neighborhood would gather and enact the tradition.

“The spirit of the posada is a stranger offering their home to individuals for a night so that they can stay so that they can feel safe,” said Gutierrez. “A lot of LGBTQ immigrants, who are seeking asylum or who are coming to the United States, that’s what they want. They want a place where they can live their true authentic selves.”

Queer Posada 2020, which will be held over Zoom on Dec. 12, includes a game of lotería, a raffle and performance by LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles.

OC Fair & Event Center officials approved flying the colorful standards in 2019 as a sign of inclusiveness. Now, some are calling for their removal, claiming they represent special interests.

The nearly 15-minute “Before and After Detention” documentary will be screened followed by a Q&A with the director Armando Ibañez. The film follows three trans women who were released from detention centers. Angela, Fernanda and Gladys live in Los Angeles, while their asylum status is pending. In the documentary, they talk about their lives in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico and being detained in the U.S.

The idea to document the immigrant trans community started after Ibañez, who describes himself as undocumented and queer, joined community organizing movements in 2013.

“I learned that the struggles and barriers for me as a cisgender person are not the same as the transgender community,” Ibañez said. “I wanted to tell this story about some of the reasons the trans community keeps coming to the U.S. seeking a better life, just to realize that there’s still transphobia and violence in this country. Not only in American society but also in immigrant communities.”

He reached out to organizations like Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement and TransLatina to get into contact with people who had been released from detention centers.

For Ibañez, it was important to document how Angela, Fernanda and Gladys processed the trauma from their experiences at the detention centers but also moments of joy, whether it was performing on stage, or working at a flower shop or a nonprofit helping others in similar situations.

Donations from the Queer Posada will go toward the center’s LGBTQ Immigrant Fund. The unrestricted funds meet multiple needs from bonds, commissary funds, airline tickets to immigration filing fees. The center has also distributed checks to LGBTQ community members who have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

If you go

What: Queer Posada 2020
When: Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.
Where: Virtual
Cost: Free
Info: bit.ly/queerposada20

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