If you haven’t heard the phrase undocuqueer before, you aren’t alone. The term is a mashup of two words: undocumented and queer. But more importantly, undocuqueer is a movement of people who celebrate being a part of two marginalized groups. This is why Beto Soto, a 24-year-old photographer and storyteller from San Diego, created his photo series “Undocuqueer; Stories from Bordertown.” His goal is to spread awareness around the term and the people who identify with it.
Soto, who is himself undocuqueer, has spent the past two years documenting the lives of undocuqueer people who are DACA recipients, and sharing their experiences.
Right now, because he’s based in San Diego, Soto's project is mainly focused on Latinx perspectives. But he's working on expanding those perspectives so his work represents the diversity of the undocuqueer movement with people from many ethnicities and cultures. He has reached out to members of the undocuqueer movement in New York, Baltimore, and Los Angeles in order to get their feedback and ideas.
One of Soto's favorite stories from the project is the story of Dayamis, a trans woman. Her story stands out to him because, “she overcame so much.” He hopes to expand his project to include more trans stories because he says trans women “sparked the pride protests back in the 70s and sometimes we as LGBTQ folk forget that.”
Soto admits, ‘it is a scary time, honestly” to be undocumented and queer under the Trump administration. He sees his photo project as one way to counteract the negative energy from the current administration and their immigration policies.
When asked about the state of mind of the undocuqueer community he followed, Soto says, “we are enjoying the time we have and the opportunity that we have to be able to be working legally and also [to be] free to show our queerness.”
Soto plans to continue to interview subjects for “Undocuqueer; Stories from Bordertown” through April.