• Elias Aceves

The LGBTQ+ Immigrant Experience


Migration is a process of push and pull factors, working with one another to decide where one will end up. These range from economic, political, and safety/health factors, where people seek to move from one place to another so they can gain a better life than in their initial circumstances.

So in the discourse of LGBTQ+ immigrants, one must understand the unique mental trauma of what has caused them to seek a new home, and the mental trauma of actually trekking towards their desired, new home. Where one must weigh how immigrating burdens one, how being LGBTQ+ affects one, and how when these overlap, a new experience is cultivated, and along with it, a unique type of trauma.

LGBTQ+ Immigrant


Since 1917, one has seen the systematic attempt to bar the LGBTQ+ community from being able to freely migrate and enter America. The 1917 Immigration Act is notorious for being restrictive towards certain groups from immigrating to America, and it is noted that homosexuals were seen as having a mental illness, and therefore, it was justified to bar them from entering America.

This was reinforced many times with other legislation passed throughout the century, only until 1990 when Congress finally repealed any restrictions barring LGBTQ+ individuals from entering America. With such progress in immigration rights for LGBTQ+ individuals, many could now not only use asylum to gain entry to America, but simply by immigration procedures as well, especially with the Supreme Court decision in Hodges V Obergefell, which legalized gay marriage across all states, ensuring homosexual couples could now engage in bi-national naturalization if one partner is an American citizen.

However, this ought not to invalidate those who had to travel the long road illegally since there still lies structural barriers that affects all immigrants in general when seeking entry to the United States that must be reformed.


LGBTQ Immigrant


The most fundamental part of AYANA’s mission is to address the mental health issues of those who are often neglected in the therapy sector. And we believe that is best when addressed by culturally competent therapists, who are able to understand each layer to one’s experience.

This is not ignored within the focus on LGBTQ+ immigrants, who must be understood from many lenses which include their LGBTQ+ identity, immigrant identity/status, and nation of origin plus language. This means that therapists must be able to address the possible language barriers that entails treating such individuals, as well as understand the complex attitude their patients may have towards America and their country of origin, which is usually a mixture of ambivalence, hope, desire, and animosity, where many seek to just live as free as they and to be unapologetic about their LGBTQ+ identity.

They must understand that they may not find solace in any community of their particular identities and possible legal challenges some of their patients must be facing, where deportation may result in their death due to the marked persecution in their country of origin. These aspects are particular to the LGBTQ+ immigrant experience, and AYANA is determined to assuage the trauma that is attached with these aspects.

#AYANA #AYANATherapy #MentalHealth #Immigrant #LGBTQ

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