Here at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, we focused each week during March on women from the communities that EBSC serves. For this last day of Women's History Month, we'd like to spotlight Flor, a woman who proudly shares her story as a member of the LGBTQ community:
My name is Flor and I was born small town outside of Mexico City. Since I was a teenager, I always knew that I liked girls and I wasn't interested in boys. However, I grew up in a very strict Catholic family. No one else in my family was like me. I felt like there was no one who I could talk to about my feelings. My family and I were very active in our church. I felt like I was carrying a big secret every Sunday.
When I was older, I got a job as a cashier in a grocery store close to my home. A woman named Gloria moved to the neighborhood. She came to help her cousin who just had a baby. She was also a lesbian and we fell in love. We had to keep our relationship secret. However, people in the town suspected things. Some of the young men in our town hung out in front of the store. They'd yell out horrible and disrespectful things to us and laugh. They'd throw things like fruit and empty beer cans at us. This continued for over a year. One day, one of the young men stood right in front of us, blocking our path as we walked. Gloria told him to move. He refused. Gloria pushed past him and I followed. The other young men outside the store laughed. The one who had blocked us told us that we'd regret doing what we just did.
The next day, I went to open the store where I worked. I heard sounds from the back of the store. Gloria was there. She was badly beaten up. Gloria died in the hospital a few days later. The young men in front of the store told me that the same thing that happened to Gloria would happen to me. Those young men physically threatened me many times. I couldn't go to the police, because no one would protect me. I was terrified to leave my home. The young men would also leave me threatening notes when I worked in the store.
My parents found out about Gloria and my father kicked me out of the house. Both of my parents were disgusted by me. I feared for my life. I was also so sad about Gloria's death. I decided that I'd try to go to the United States. In early 2012, after a lot of struggle, I crossed into this country.
I arrived to the EBSC in the summer of 2012. A friend of mine took me to their offices. With the support of the staff from the LGBTQ Affirmative Asylum program, I was able to apply and my application was eventually approved. I'm presently living with my girlfriend here in the Bay Area. We are very happy. While I'm a private person, I'm sharing my story today in honor of Gloria.
Note: Flor's real name isn't being used to protect her privacy.