In 2017, Donald Trump and Mike Pence attempted to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a widely popular federal policy that gives a renewable two-year period of "deferred action" to individuals who immigrated to the United States as children. There are nearly two million Dreamers -- including an estimated 75,000 LGBTQ Dreamers who could face unique risks and harms if deported from the only home they've ever known.
Every year, countless LGBTQ immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers brave dangerous -- and often perilous -- conditions to flee violence or political persecution and seek a better life for their loved ones.
Many people are unaware of the plight of LGBTQ immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. According to the Williams Institute, about 267,000 undocumented adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ.
Currently, 71 countries criminalize same-sex relations. In up to 10 countries, same-sex relations are punishable by death. From Chechnya to the Middle East, to Libya and Sub-Saharan African -- LGBTQ people live in fear just because of who they are or who they love.
While the Trump-Pence administration continuously attacks immigrants, HRC took the opportunity to shine a light using real, personal stories on the intersection of LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights to educate our members and supporters. We also used this as an opportunity to educate about and push for the DREAM Act, which would grant temporary legal status and a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
HRC looked to short form video to harness the power of social media, particularly Instagram, and storytelling.
We met with the immigrant youth-led United We Dream network, which was working with HRC to change hearts and minds for the passage of a common-sense, bipartisan DREAM Act, to identify an LGBTQ person and a story that we knew would resonate with LGBTQ people and our allies around the nation.
We eventually met Yuridia, a 22-year-old queer DACA recipient and sexual violence survivor. It was only after she received DACA that she was able to report her abuser to the police.
"It was not until I had DACA that I felt human enough to walk into a police station and report my abuser. And DACA allowed that -- for a moment -- to allow me to feel a little more deserving in this country," Yuridia says. "With the DREAM Act, it would mean a whole different life, I think -- having lived in the shadows. No more silence on any identity."
With the peak of #MeToo movement hitting in early 2018, we knew it was the perfect time to tell Yuridia's story.
HRC ensured that the video was less than a minute and that it had text on screen so it was easily accessible. We optimized the sizing for platforms and chose engaging cover images.
We also offered the video as an exclusive and worked with our communications team to set up a blog and press release so the video could be prominently featured on HRC's website.
We posted it several times on HRC's social media platforms during our best performing time slots, and also looked to join any trending hashtags and breaking news to be as relevant as possible.
The video was released to Spanish-language press and included a Spanish language social media roll out.
HRC also shared the video with a targeted list of influencers and celebrities that were engaged in the #MeToo and DACA movement, including Alyssa Milano, to share the video.
While this video was released in January 2018, HRC utilized it throughout the year to tell the story of LGBTQ Dreamers as DACA came up in the news.
HRC was overwhelmed by the response to Yuridia's video. It was one of our most viewed videos ever on Instagram with more than 522K views and was the second-most popular tweet from any non-profit organization on January 20, 2018. In total, the video had more than four million impressions and reached more than 1.4 million people on Facebook alone. By the end of 2018, HRC had shared Yuridia's video more than 40 times across our platforms.
It was picked up by New Now Next, the Los Angeles Blade and the Georgia Voice.
We saw an overwhelming response to the video in the comments and from our membership. The video resonated with our audience and helped underscore our main message: immigrants' rights are LGBTQ rights and LGBTQ rights are immigrants' rights.
With the unprecedented success of this video, HRC captured the stories of other LGBTQ Dreamers like Mo, an LGBTQ Dreamer who faces the tragedy of deportation after nearly a lifetime in the only country he's ever known, and Viktor, a queer Dreamer from Texas.
Celebrities including Ellen Page, Moby, Maria Bello, Jonathan Van Ness, Samantha Ronson, Sophia Bush and Rosanna Arquette have helped spread their stories far and wide.
With every day they delay in passing the DREAM Act, lawmakers are putting more people at risk of deportation and violence. HRC was honored to have the chance to help tell these stories and will continue to use utilize video and social media to tell the stories of the most marginalized voices within our community.