Monica, a native and citizen of Colombia, came to the United States under a student visa. While in the United States, Monica came out as a lesbian. As a student Monica flourished in the arts, especially film making. She became an activist in the LGBT, immigration, and women’s rights movements. Through film, she explores the issue of lesbian rights. Her documentaries include: “Latinas Lesbianas,” interviews with Latina immigrant lesbians who are activists on issues such as housing, education and free speech; and “A Journey Home,” which addresses the issues of home, community, and immigration through the lives of three Latina lesbians. Her films have been screened throughout the United States and internationally, winning her awards of recognition.
Since her coming out and artistic expressions of activism, Monica fears returning to Colombia where homosexuality is seen as a sin and gay people have to live in hiding. Monica would be expected and pressured by family and society to marry a man. As an out lesbian, she risks suffering harassment and violence at the hands of relatives, neighbors, and guerilla and paramilitary forces, with little or no protection from the government. Sexual and gender-based violence are a significant problem in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia and in Colombian society generally. “Social cleansing” campaigns target, among others, LGBTQ people and people with HIV and AIDS, and are justified as a means by which to eliminate individuals who fail to conform to traditional Colombian standards and thereby to strengthen the community. With NCLR as her counsel, Monica was granted asylum on June 13, 2006.