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Men in the Movement: Julio Salgado
I met Julio Salgado while working at a student newspaper. We were both painfully awkward, and I was completely unaware that the friendship we forged would dramatically inform my political consciousness.
Julio is the art director of Dreamers Adrift, a multimedia collective that features the stories of undocumented youth who are fighting for the passage of the DREAM Act. Julio's own artistic work examines the intersecting identities of being undocumented and queer, and feature portraits of young activists alongside inspirational quotes. His illustrations are powerful and remind me of how far Julio has come over the last seven years.
Back then, Julio was doubly closeted, having not yet come out as undocumented or queer. I watched as he struggled with these tightly-held secrets, and I learned from his struggle to embrace his sexuality, enter his first serious relationship, and come out to his very traditional Latino family. I admired Julio's bravery as his activism took shape and he became a mentor to others who had similar stories in the DREAM Act movement. Watching Julio grow into the man he has become inspired my own activism, pushing me to cast aside my own inhibitions and claim my own identity as a queer feminist.
Julio and I have gone to marches together, swapped books and opinions, and argued over issues during late night phone calls, but the biggest impact he has made on my life is by simply being present and providing unwavering support. Although it saddens me to admit it, before I met Julio I didn't know men could be women's allies with our best interests at heart. Our friendship brought me to the understanding that a feminist’s best friend can be a man who truly cares about and honors women.
Tina Vasquez is a freelance writer and editor from the Los Angeles area.