“Forbidden” film captures the struggle and triumph of an undocumented and queer man

Photo by Cameron Leonard

Richmond Public Library unveiled the Richmond premiere of film, “Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America,” followed by a Q&A with its producer, Heather Mathews, on Thursday Oct. 27.

The film chronicles the struggles and experiences of Moises Serrano, an undocumented queer man from Mexico who grows up in North Carolina. When Serrano was just months old, his family immigrated to the U.S., risking their livelihood and safety in hopes to achieving a better life.

North Carolina, a state known for it’s homophobic history and law, provides Serrano with various personal and professional obstacles that culminate in his passion for political and social activism.

An undocumented and gay man, Serrano devotes his life to reversing the narrative that affected many people who deal with stereotypes and face similar challenges that he overcomes.

Throughout the documentary, Serrano becomes an active member in his community and begins to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. Along with his family, friends and partner Brandon, Serrano participates in protests and sit-ins to help create change. An example of his activism is his involvement in the “Road to Reform” organization.

Despite having to deal with the struggles of finding a job and breaking through the barrier of white supremacy, Serrano ultimately finds his way. The documentary concludes with him finding out he’s been accepted into his dream school and eventually is rewarded with a scholarship covering all four years. He’ll be graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 2018.

“I never thought that I would be here. Going to college,” Serrano said.

After the film, Mathews took time out to answer questions from the audience.

“We are so ill informed about immigration in our country. It’s depressing,” Mathews said. “The institution is racist. We built this country for white men on the backs of slavery.”

The film, which took two years to make, was paid for out of pocket in addition to a few kickstarter and donation opportunities. Released this year, the film now has a distributor for colleges and universities across the year.

“There should be other undocumented and queer individuals going to school and getting an education,” Matthews said.

Since September, the film has been shown every weekend at a different college.

“I think the hardest part of making the film was saying enough a lot immigration reform to make an impact without having to tell the entire story,” Matthews said. “It’s such a complicated issue.”

During the Q&A, Mathews shared her views on the Defence of Marriage Act and immigration law in the U.S.

“You could be stopped for a parking ticket or loitering while brown,” Mathews said. “They can check your immigration status and lock you up.”

She also revealed that Serrano is currently studying public policy and headed in the direction of politics.

“It’s been received very well. We didn’t expect much,” Mathews said. “To win the social justice southern poverty law center award. We never thought we’d get that recognition.”


Muktaru JallohMuktaru Jalloh

Muktaru is a graduate student working on a Master’s of Teaching after earning an undergraduate degree in English and Political Science. In addition to writing for the CT, he also co-founds his own music and arts site, STROKES N RHYMES. Topic areas Muktaru enjoys covering include music, sports and pop culture.

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