May 11

Let Alvaro Stay

Image by Julio Salgado

A friend of mine, queer artist Alvaro Orozco, was picked up by immigration enforcement on Friday. We are organizing to try to stop his deportation.

Update #3: We Stopped Alvaro’s Deportation!

Update #2: Why Alvaro’s arrest matters

Update #1: Interview with Alvaro from detention

Campaign Page


At 8pm on Friday evening (May 13), award-winning undocumented queer artist Alvaro Orozco was arrested on his way to dinner with friends. Now in detention at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre, he faces imminent deportation to Nicaragua.

An accomplished artist and dedicated advocate for queer and newcomer youth, Alvaro’s love for art and commitment to community has captured the appreciation and respect of thousands of people in Toronto. He received the 2010 Street-Level Advocate Award from the Toronto Youth Cabinet and City of Toronto in recognition of his work with queer and newcomer youth.

Alvaro first rose to national prominence in 2007 when his refugee claim was denied on the basis that he did not look “gay enough” for the adjudicator hearing his case via a television screen in Calgary.

This story was picked up by the largest newspapers in Nicaragua, effectively “outing” him to the entire country he left at age 12 due to severe physical abuse by a father who threatened to “kill any child of his that was homosexual.”

Alvaro, now 25, is still waiting for a decision on his Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) application.

Friends and supporters of Alvaro are meeting to move quickly to stay his deportation. It is critical that we keep this strong voice in our community.

Alvaro’s Accomplishments & Exhibits

- Volunteer/Mentor with Supporting Our Youth (SOY)

- Mayworks Festival, Toronto, 2011

- Toronto Youth Cabinet, 2010 Identify & Impact Awards, Street-Level Advocate Award Winner

- Migrant Expressions Photography Exhibition, Montreal, 2009

- Under the Bridge Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2009

- Jumblies Theatre, Prop-Maker and Photographer, Toronto, 2009

- Refugee Rights Day, Toronto City Hall, Toronto, 2008

- ArtWherk Collective 2007, Pride Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2007

Image by Sheila Hewlett



Alvaro Orozco, Under the Bridge Art Exhibit


Feb 11

Graphic Influences II

Left image from No One Is Illegal – Toronto, center by the wonderful Favianna Rodriguez, right image (original) of Chicanas at a protest rally in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, taken by Raul Ruiz for La Raza magazine, found in Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings, edited by Alma M. García (1997)

Left and center image from Favianna Rodriguez, right image The Tobacco Harvest Awaits Your Youthful Hand (1983) by Juan A. Gomez in Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art (2003) by Lincoln Cushing

Left image by Blackness Yes!, right image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at 1968 Summer Olympics

Wasun’s album cover for What Must Be Done (2005) and poster by Lazaro Abreu (1968) with original illustration by Emory Douglas, captured by Lincoln Cushing

This second edition of graphic influences (my first post on this blog) touches on two themes.

The first is the migration and evolution of images over time: from Cuba to Oakland; and from 1970s Los Angeles to present-day Toronto by way of Oakland.

The second theme is African Liberation Month, as celebrated by our embattled community radio station CKLN. The last two sets show how the imagery of black power movements continue to inform and inspire organizing today within hip hop and queer communities.

Sep 10

Land & Bodies Under Occupation

In 1965  artists got their first major call to service when Cesar Chavez’s Farm Workers Association joined the Delano grape strike initiated by Filipino workers and became the United Farm Workers (UFW). An unprecedented number of urban Mexican Americans supported the strike, thus accelerating the transition of a labor movement into what became the Chicano civil rights movement. “It had a startling effect on the Mexican Americans in the cities; they began to rethink their self-definition as second-class citizens and to redefine themselves as Chicanos.”

- Tere Romo “Points of Convergences: The Iconography of the Chicano Poster”  in Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California (2001) edited by Chon A. Noriega

Sun Mad (1982), Ester Hernandez

Within a Chicano context, the issue of belonging and ownership in relation to land is evoked through the idea “Aztlán”. Aztlán names the mythic homeland of the Aztecs before their migration to the high vallery of central Mexico. It was introduced to Chicano thought with “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán”, drafted in March 1969 for the Chicano Youth Conference held in Denver, Colorado.

As a mythic homeland, Aztlán grants a prior claim to the land Chicanos occupy. This leads to the popular saying, “We didn’t the border. The border crossed us”.

- “Remapping Chicano Expressive Culture” by Rafael Pérez-Torres in Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California (2001) edited by Chon A. Noriega

La Ofrenda (1988), Ester Hernandez

“… the idea of Aztlán allows one to form solidarity with a number of national and international social struggles for justice. Aztlán comes to represent on a symbolic level another type of reclamation, one underscored by the “queering” of iconic figures by de Batuc and Hernández. Morago writes, ‘For immigration and native alike, land is … the factories where we work, the water our children drink, and the housing project where we live. For women, lesbians, and gay men, land is that physical mass called our bodies. Throughout las Americas, all these ‘lands’ remain under occupation by an Anglo-centric, patriarchal, imperialist United States’.

Chicano expressive culture often relies on evoking the many meanings of land in order to grasp the numerous ways sociopolitical power and personal identity intersect. Chicano consciousness has emerged from the recognition that the circulation of power manifests itself in the circulation of the body through social institutions like school, prison, and the workplace.”

- “Remapping Chicano Expressive Culture” by Rafael Pérez-Torres in Just Another Poster?

Vietnam Atzlán (1973), Malaquias Montoya