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NYLAG Voices: Christian’s Story

When Christian first arrived in New York City, his home was a small tent in his friend’s apartment. He was only allowed to stay for two months. After that, his future was completely uncertain.
Christian grew up in Paraguay and had always been an artist. But he was also a “feminine” child growing up in a society that was not accepting of men in the queer community.

“You worked hard for me so that I could live with freedom and dignity.”

As a small child, Christian learned that he wasn’t safe being himself. If he was, he could be hurt, or even killed. He learned how to pretend to be a masculine man. As he grew up, he became more involved in advocacy. He hosted TV and radio programs to promote health information. He used theater to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community. In exchange, he was threatened and assaulted to the point of fearing for his life. Acting was his escape.

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

When Christian auditioned for a role in a HBO movie, he knew it could be the opportunity of a lifetime. He got the part, but it didn’t really make a difference. After the movie came out, he was threatened again. They wanted his existence to disappear.

But something good did come from the role. He was granted a visa to come to New York City for a film festival. A few days after arriving, he learned he had received a death threat back in Paraguay.

At that moment, he knew he had to stay and start a life in the United States. One day in 2018, he was sitting in a small tent in his friend’s apartment, when his phone rang. He had no idea his life was about to change.

On the other end of the phone, a friendly voice told him, in Spanish, that they were from New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), and they wanted to help.

Meant to Fly

That was the start of a five-year journey to help him gain safety and a permanent home in the U.S. Attorneys from NYLAG’s LGBTQ+ Law Project fought alongside him for five years, through so many ups and downs, a global pandemic, and a lot of hardships.

In February of 2023, he was finally granted asylum. Being here, he can express himself. He can be recognized for his work and truly show the world who he is.

“I don’t know what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for you,” Christian shared with his NYLAG attorneys. “You changed my whole life. You opened doors for me. You changed my whole perspective. You made it possible for me to stay in this country. You worked hard for me so that I could live with freedom and dignity.”

“I’m standing here for that little boy in Paraguay who couldn’t be himself, who had to hide and stay on the ground when he wanted to fly. I’m here to tell him that who you are is your superpower. You really do have wings, and you were meant to fly.”

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