My name is Ilo and I am a non-binary educator, writer, photographer, doctor, asylum winner, and new U.S. citizen. I was born and raised in Venezuela. There, I was an expedition/emergency doctor, but I had to hide my sexuality and gender identity from my family and friends. If I wanted to attend an LGBTQ event, I would leave my car somewhere and take a cab so no one would know where I was. I had to hide from police officers. The people who were supposed to protect me targeted me instead. That was my life in Venezuela.
When I came to the United States to continue my education, I discovered what it was like to be free. I couldn’t bear the idea of returning to a double and dangerous life, so I made an appointment with Immigration Equality. They gave me a lawyer, and 6 weeks later, I received asylum!
I feel exceedingly fortunate and I want people in similar situations to know that there is hope, that things do get better. While I no longer practice medicine because the Venezuelan government refuses to send my paperwork, I found a new career I love, teaching other doctors and writing. In the future, I would like to train doctors to better serve the LGBTQ community.
June is the time when we celebrate both Pride month and Immigrant Heritage month. In honor of this, you can help support proud queer immigrants like me by donating to or sharing Immigration Equality’s Facebook fundraiser.
Thank you for your support,
Photo Credits: Ilo