“No Longer Interested in Convincing You of My Humanity”: Undocuqueer Countervisualities Reclaim the Right to Exist
Undocumented immigrants that are part of the LGBTQ community, also known as Undocuqueer, historically has been underrepresented in positive text and visualizations: narratives that aid social and political opinion, help to reduce negative stereotypes and provide awareness and movement toward equal rights, respect and love.
Visualizations are worth examining because they are a tool of the resistance movement and produce narratives beyond text, influencing positive or negative perceptions regarding group identity. Visualizations that highlight the differences from the status quo are countervisualizations.
University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Journalism Assistant Professor Rachel Grant and colleague Ayleen Cabas-Mijares from Marquette University, conducted a study to understand trends in social media representation of underrepresented identities through countervisualizations. They examined 250 social media posts hash tagged with Undocuqueer language (#butterfly, #Undocuqueer) and work from two prominent artists within the Undocuqueer movement.
Most countervisualizations were illustrations, highlighting marginalized identities and challenging previously held unrealistic expectations (e.g. “Immigrant workers are perfect!”). Many activists studied use pseudonyms, which allow them to express their political beliefs and personal grievances, with less fear of identification and persecution. The authors also examined the visualizations that showcase the complex intersectionalities of the Undocuqueer community, such as individuals with disabilities and indigenous peoples.
The research highlights the complexities of the Undocuqueer community and the positive and powerful impact countervisualizations have to support the marginalized through building conversation and community. Visualizations provide opportunities to redefine, reframe and refute the previously held beliefs of Undocuqueer people as threats to the health and safety of national security due to a longstanding history of systemic political oppression, racism and prejudice.
Authors: Ayleen Cabas-Mijares and Rachel Grant
The original article, “‘No Longer Interested in Convincing You of My Humanity’: Undocuqueer Countervisualities Reclaim the Right to Exist,” was originally published in Visual Communication Quarterly on Dec. 22, 2020.
This summary was written by Alexandra Avelino, UFCJC M.A.M.C. 2020, Student Affairs Program Coordinator at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine