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'Afuera' Exposes The Real World Of An Undocumented Latinx Transgender Woman

"When you think about trans narratives, we don’t really think about an intersection of immigration."

Afuera, a short film directed by Steven Liang and written by Steven Canals, shows the harsh realities undocumented transgender women face everyday. The film tells the story of Jennifer, (played by transgender Mexican actress Jennifer London) who by any means necessary has to survive working the streets. Amid her illegal immigration status, she’s succumbed to a drug addiction and is simultaneously forced to deal with the sharp parallels of being in love.

For Liang, it was pivotal to create a project that showcased these struggles because often times these stories go untold.   “I really wanted to focus on the Latina transgender community because the undocumented process has never been talked about before,” he says seated on a small velvet couch inside the pressroom for the LA Film Festival, on the third floor of The Culver Hotel. “When you think about trans narratives, we don’t really think about an intersection of immigration. We see Caitlyn Jenner and Transparent, but we don’t see the other side with the struggles that undocumented and immigrant women go through on a daily basis.”

Within these struggles comes the big issue surrounding the incarceration of illegal trans people. Most are housed in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centers. According to a report released by the Human Rights Watch this March, of the estimated 30,000 immigrants detained in a day, at least 65 are transgender women. Most face sexual abuse and a slew of discriminations. Liang notes this is a subject he wishes to tackle further if the film or something similar expands into something larger.

“There are a lot of transgender sisters in the immigration detention centers. They have really really sad stories,” Jennifer points out, “but stories that can be good to show. So [people] can understand before they judge a person that is undocumented or from another country because sometimes they come running away from violence.”

Besides showing the main subject navigate an unstable life in the world of sex work, Liang also made sure to chronicle a love story all the while, as Jennifer is in a committed relationship with Pedro (played by Colombian actor Santiago Malkuth).

Within their love, you’ll see the plight of Jennifer struggling to oblige to Pedro’s demands of not resorting to sex work, something that inevitably doesn’t end up happening. Yet, Liang does what few have done, and that is to showcase a love narrative involving a transgender person, which in turn, depicts how difficult it is for a trans person to find love in a patriarchal society overflowing with anti-LGBT views.

Seated across from Liang sporting a black fedora hat, Malkuth echoes these sentiments. “I want people to pay attention to the love story because it’s really hard for a trans person to fall in love and have a long term relationship,” he says. “And the struggles that all the people who decide to love a trans person go through. That’s an issue that a lot of people are not aware of.”

In addition to this rarely told account, keeping the script in Spanish with English subtitles makes the movie feel a lot more authentic to the message it's trying to convey. (This holds true with how diverse the cast is—the majority of color and subscribing to the LGBTQ community.)

Visually, the film excels in showcasing the many issues that keep Jennifer at the margins of  society. Through dark and gritty imagery of Los Angeles streets, you’ll see her on a hunt for her vices  with the desperation of still keeping Pedro's love and surviving. One scene in particular hits home when she is seen at a taco joint in a seemingly rough part of town. There she confronts two other Latina trans women for her drugs. After the scuffle, one suggests she get out of selling her body in exchange for survival, while the other reminds her of the impossibility as she is undocumented.

Harsh? Yes. But that’s exactly the point London wants the masses to take with them after watching Afuera: how hard it really is being trans and undocumented. What's more, she hopes people see Jennifer as human. “It’s more than just a transgender sex worker movie,” she says. “Transgender women are more than that. We are girls filled with dreams. And we want to fall in love with somebody, and live a life with somebody and grow old with them. I would like people to see the passion that Jennifer has for life, and the warrior that she is everyday."

“We decided specifically not to translate it into English because ‘Afuera’ in Spanish means outside and it has the connotation of freedom and feeling liberated,” Liang says when asked of the meaning behind the film’s title. “It takes so much courage for an undocumented trans women just to be outside and live their lives like a regular person out in the open. That dichotomy was really intriguing because you have to live and in order to live you have to be in public.”

Afuera premiered on June 3 at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more information on the film you can click on, here.

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Gang Member May Testify Against Defendants In 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz' Murder Trial

A member of the Trinitarios gang who witnessed the fatal stabbing of Bronx teenager Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz may take the stand against five defendants this week.

The first of two murder trials for the killing of Junior Guzman-Feliz began earlier this month, NBC4 New York reports. Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago (24), Jonaiki Martinez Estrella (24), Jose Muniz (21) and Manuel Rivera (18) and Elvin Garcia (23) were given second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy, gang assault and criminal possession of weapon charges for the June 2018 stabbing of the 15-year-old.

It was previously reported that the leader of the Trinitarios gang assisted the police with information about the defendant but it isn't known if he is the same witness who will testify this week.

A total of eleven women and one man make up the jury. During the first few days of the trial, the courtroom watched three clips from the harrowing incident that showed Guzman-Feliz before and after the attack. The teen was reportedly stabbed by the defendants in a case of mistaken identity.

One of the clips was never seen by the public and showed the attackers dragging Junior out of the grocery story with the teen fighting back as the gang yielded machete and knives. Later in the trial, jurors were shown 13 different angles and the six locations of the group looking for the teen.

As family members sobbed in the court, prosecutors claimed that Junior's murder was premeditated given the weapons used. But defense attorneys deemed most of Junior's wounds as "superficial" and noted how the cut to his throat was the cause of his death. They also claimed four of the defendants did not intend to kill Junior. The defense rilled up the court, including Junior's family.

"Why would they need those weapons if they're not trying to kill someone?" sister-in-law Ione Guierrez told ABC7. "I need somebody to explain that to me." Junior's father was later escorted out of the courtroom for using profanity as the defendants reportedly laughed during the trial. "These guys are sitting there, just looking at us, just literally laughing," supporter Ilene Mariez told reporters. "The family got really really upset, and the father, towards the end, he was so upset he was using profanity," Mariez added. "So they pulled him from the courtroom."

Defense attorneys cross-examined witnesses like a woman who saw what happened from her apartment window. The witness said Junior motioned for her to call the police. After heading outside to help the teen, she said in disturbing detail his last word was "water."

A total of 14 people are facing jail time for Junior's death. The other nine suspects who are accused of taking part in other aspects of the assault will have a pretrial hearing dated for June 17.

Junior's passing sent waves around the country as clips were seen on social media. A number of celebrities took part in the #JusticeforJunior movement like Carmelo Anthony, Cardi B, Lala Anthony, Rihanna and Wesley Snipes. The street where Junior died was changed from Bathgate Avenue to Lesandro Junior Guzman Way. He was also honored by the NYPD with a scholarship created in his name. The teen was a member of the NYPD's Explores Program and had an interest in becoming a police officer.

"He was one of the good kids in the Bronx," his mother said at the time of his death. "He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time."

If found guilty, the five defendants will face life in prison.

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Cardi B attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Cardi B's Fans Are Creeping Her Out With Comments About Her Family

Cardi B loves her fans, but she's making one thing clear to them: her family is off limits. During one of her popular Instagram live sessions, Cardi revealed that she frequently talks to her fan pages but that recently they've been crossing a few lines and talking "hella crazy" about her family, especially her sister Hennessy Carolina.

Before getting into it, the "Please Me" artist made it clear that she's incredibly thankful for her fans and that she goes out of her way to respond to their comments and like their pictures, they just have to leave her family alone.

"I am so thankful that I have people who love me, that follow up with my life, always supporting me, always supporting my music, my looks and everything," she said during the live.

"But it's like bro, no, you cannot talk about my sister. I would go to jail for my sister, I would die for my sister, I would take a bullet for my sister. So nobody could talk about my sister. I could be best friends with somebody for 100 years. Once they say something slick about my sister, you’re getting cut the f*** off, period.”

Cardi warned the Bardi Gang that hands would be thrown, regardless of whether they're a fan of hers or not, over her sister.

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Cardi B Awarded Crossover Artist Of The Year At 2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards

2019 has been a pretty successful year for Cardi B. In February, Cardi won a Grammy Award for "Best Rap Album," and as of Thursday (April 26), the Bronx native was awarded Crossover Artist of the year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The 26-year-old won over  Demi Lovato, DJ Snake and Drake in the category. Cardi's been featured on some of the hottest Latin records that have ruled both 2018 and 2019. She has her hit song "I Like It" with Bad Bunny and J. Balvin, and she's featured in the tracks "Taki Taki" and "La Modelo" as well.

Cardi's win makes her the first female rapper to ever win a Billboard Latin Music Award. The MC took to her Instagram stories to thank the publication for the award, a move that comes after a recent squabble she had with gossip page "The Shade Room."

On Wednesday, in a series of now-deleted Instagram videos, Cardi slammed the gossip page for posts she felt harmed her husband Offset's image. In the video, Cardi called out TSR for allegedly only sharing negative news about her label mates at Quality Management, rather than uplifting them and the rest of the black community.

“Everybody that they know that I’m cool with, they always try to get them set up for people to talk sh*t,” she said. "Offset donated 25K to the Ellen foundation for the kids in Africa. Did The Shade Room post it? No… are they posting any positive sh*t and investment talk that he’s been talking about in his interviews? No. But they sure post the way he had drama with his baby mom. They sure posting about his court cases, right?"

Congrats to Cardi on her win. See the complete winners list over on Billboard.com.

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