In 2013, Stacyann Chin asked a group of 10 undocumented writers to write their 8-word biography. Today, I’m still working on that piece because I’ve discovered so much about myself since that weekend in San Francisco, but for now, this is what I’ve got:
Alan Pelaez Lopez was born in Mexico City and grew up in their family’s village on the coast of Oaxaca, México. At five, Pelaez Lopez migrated to the United States, undocumented. As a minor, Pelaez Lopez began to make jewelry as a source of income, which is where they found their passion for art.
In 2010, Pelaez Lopez became artistically, socially and politically involved in the immigrant rights movement as DREAM Act votes were about to take place. In 2011, after the legislation failed, Pelaez Lopez slept 11 nights and 12 days on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to denounce and testify against the criminalization of immigrants in the state. At this time, they took on leadership positions with the Student Immigrant Movement and shortly after, with the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project.
As a young organizer, Pelaez Lopez was femmetored by undocumented Black immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin American, which is what led them to develop an unapologetically Black and queer vision for liberation. Through community organizing and strategizing, Pelaez Lopez has facilitated roundtable discussions with U.S. Senators and Representatives; protested detention centers in California, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts; and led political education workshops in DC, NY, MA, VT, CA, GA, and CT.
In 2013, Pelaez Lopez won the Youth Courage Award for their commitment to uplifting the voices of LGBTQIA+ undocumented immigrants in the United States. They accepted the award in New York City and was an honored guest at NYC Pride. In 2014, they moved to Los Angeles to intern at the UCLA Labor Center where they launched their first visual storytelling project and since then has extensively worked in the field of new media.
Pelaez Lopez has worked for Black Girl Dangerous Press and Everyday Feminism, and published in Rewire News, Splinter News, TeleSur, The Feminist Wire, and more. They have also been interviewed by Telemundo, Univision, Them, NPR, and We Are MiTú to name a few.
Pelaez Lopez is a former steering committee member of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and currently serves on the steering committee of the Black LGBT Migrant Project (BLMP). Through BLMP, Pelaez Lopez is committed to support and uplift the voices of Black LGBTQIA+ immigrants by continuously questioning migration. Their work asks: Is migration natural? and What are the human conditions that create the forced migration of LGBTQIA+ Black people?
Currently, Pelaez Lopez is living in California pursuing a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and co-hosting Culture Fuck— a space for queer, trans and intersex artists of color– with Vanessa Rochelle Lewis. Pelaez Lopez is also the co-founder of the Arts and Humanities Initiative which serves as an incubation space that merges the worlds of academia, visual + literary art, and social movements at the Center for Race and Gender.
Check out the site for current work, bookings, and ideas on how to amplify the voices of queer and trans Black (un)documented folxx!