Nury Martinez: A Gay Man’s Journey to the United States

Op-Ed: Nury Martinez says out loud the racism and colorism my vibrant Oaxacan community endures

For three decades, Nury Martinez lived, breathed, thought and felt Mexican, which made him the perfect fit for working at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the main entry point in the southwest border where foreigners arrive in the United States. He was “only” Mexican when it came to outward characteristics, but he also happened to be a gay man. His community, in San Ysidro, was just bursting with color.

“There is a cultural problem in Mexico that is not being talked about in the media,” he told me. “It’s not there. They don’t speak about it. They don’t talk about it in the media. Or in the streets, or any place…They don’t talk about, ‘There’s another perspective, another way of thinking, another way of being.’ In some places in Mexico, you know, more than half of people in Mexico are of a different color, they’re not white. And I know why.”


It’s that community, where Martinez grew up, that still feels like two worlds come together.

“Growing up in San Ysidro and working there I would see people walking up and down in the park and they would see this little girl and ask if she knew how she could make a living and they would offer her a job,” Martinez revealed. “So, that is where we were…We were the minority. And that kind of colorism, not just from the U.S. side, not from the side of Mexico, but from the side of the world as a whole, it makes sense to me.”

It’s not just colorism, as Martinez points out. It’s also sexism.

“The women that were working at the port. They were very nice to me. They would ask me where I was from, asking who my parents were, and stuff like that. And I’m like ‘no I don’t know where you’re from

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