Karla Bautista Chonay is the Liberation Project Coordinator at Trans Queer Pueblo, an autonomous LGBTQ+ migrant community of color in Arizona. She supports detained and previously detained immigrants by connecting them to housing, legal, and financial resources. Her own experience as a member of Trans Queer Pueblo and the immigration system moved her to be a resource and advocate for those in her community.
"For all of us that have immigrated – it is very difficult having stability."
Karla first found community in the valley through fellow Guatemalans. They gathered for traditional celebrations like Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) and Semana Santa (Holy Week). They rented out venues to decorate, eat, share, and celebrate their festivities. Making traditional decorations and art like the colorful barriletes (kites) for Dia de Todos los Santos or the vibrant alfombras (rugs) for Semana Santa. At their gatherings they would reminisce about their traditions, home, and culture.
Karla continues to celebrate her traditions, but she has expanded her scope of community since arriving here. In 2017, Trans Queer Pueblo began inviting Karla to their events and activities. She was enchanted, she began to actively participate and explore herself – Karla describes it as a time of clarity. Karla's experiences have forged her through a path where she has come to realize that community and learning comes hand in hand.
"If we do not unite into the revolution we will never see the solution."