A few weeks ago, we introduced you to the brilliant concept that is the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and their fight for immigration reform. Now, the 19-year-old who sparked a thousand wands sat down with Univision News to tell us more about the HPA, their new campaign for equality, and the real meaning behind the term "undocumented American."
Julian Gomez has been a member of the HPA since first hearing about it back in 2010. He has since quietly been working in the social media department, that is, until a few weeks ago when Julian made headlines as the new face of immigration for the HPA.
Coming out as an "undocumented American" in the video titled “Why I Can’t Go To LeakyCon,” (a huge annual Harry Potter convention, held this year in Chicago), Julian gave a face to the complex issue of immigration reform.
You might be wondering why Julian calls himself an “undocumented American” instead of the term we’re so used to hearing, “undocumented immigrant.” Well, that’s simple: “I don’t see myself as an immigrant as much as I see myself as permanently here, as an American,” says Julian, who was born in Rosario, Argentina and brought over to the States at one and half years old by his parents.
“I talk to my friends all the time about being undocumented, but I had never told my larger audience online,” he added. “It was sort of something I needed to get off my chest, and I felt this was the right time to do it so that I could educate people. When I tell people that I’m undocumented, a lot of the responses that I get are like, ‘get in line,’ or ‘can’t you just take the citizenship test?’ and stuff like that, and I feel like people need to know more about immigration policies, because [getting in line and taking the test] are things that aren’t available to a lot of people.”
Julian believes that there should be comprehensive immigration reform that would make the topic more user-friendly, so to speak.
The main purpose of the previously mentioned video was to get people passionate about immigration reform and start a discussion, but that was not all that came from it. Since then, Julian has made another video titled “Why I Went To LeakyCon.”
Fans and friends alike were instrumental in getting Julian to LeakyCon 2012 despite his inability to fly there or take a train without the proper government-issued ID. He spent hours on the road in multiple buses and cars and finally made it to Chicago to share his story.
Also while at LeakyCon, the HPA took the opportunity to announce a new campaign called Equality FTW (For The Win). "It strives to build a network of Imagine Better libraries, educate people on immigration reform, and fight for marriage equality in different states,” said Julian, adding that this is the largest member-driven fundraiser they’ve ever done.
Using the online funding website IndieGoGo, the Equality FTW campaign aims to raise $50,000 in just a little over 3 weeks – to help fund a whole year of equality campaigns. They’ve already raised over $38,000! (Yeah, Harry Potter fans are that awesome).
But this is no ordinary fundraising campaign. The HPA is making it fun for people to donate by offering 12 perks, “one of which hasn’t been announced yet,” said Julian. The twelfth mystery perk is going to be “a smaller perk for people who want to donate, but don’t have that much money and still want to get a perk.”
The full list of perks can be viewed on the Equality FTW IndieGoGo page. But hurry, some are limited –- like the Team Starkid production signed poster, or a handcrafted phoenix pendant by Evanna Lynch (the lovely Luna Lovegood) herself -– and you only have until September 8th to donate and snag a perk.
Imagine Better is another subproject from the HPA that focuses on different fandoms besides the Harry Potter franchise. “The first campaign that we did was called ‘Hunger is not a Game,’ where we used the Hunger Games books and movie to fight hunger,” said Julian.
No new campaigns have been announced yet, but Julian assures us that the next groups of fans to be called to action will be those of the hit BBC show Doctor Who.
“I think Harry Potter fans have a lot of passion, and they need an outlet for their passion," said Julian. "Harry Potter might be over [in terms of books and movies], but it’s not over for fans."
And what better use of that passion than to try and change the world?
“At first,” Julian added, “people [get involved] because they want to be like Harry, they want to fight injustice, and then afterwards, they get really into advocacy and start doing it on their own.”
It’s easy to get involved and be a part of the wonderful Harry Potter fandom and make a difference at the same time. The HPA does everything online, and joining is as simple as going to the webpage and clicking the “sign up for action” tab. By frequenting the website, you can find out about events, how to help out, stay up to date with the HPA newsletter, and even how to be a part (or start) a local chapter – it’s like magic at your fingertips.
Julian is currently an English major and a sophomore at The Honors College at Miami Dade, and when he graduates with his bachelor’s degree, he hopes to work with non-profit companies by making videos and doing social media related things.
From one Harry Potter fan to another, I see a bright future.