2021 Fusion Film festival

 Yearning to Breathe Free: LGBTQIA+ Immigration and Asylum Seekers panel

Watch Live at 11 am pt Sunday, April 18


According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, there are an estimated 289,700 undocumented people in the United States who identify as LGBTQ+, facing unique barriers compounded by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Reflected in Outfest Fusion 2021 feature films NOWHERE and CAUGHT, from navigating complications of love and career when your legal status hangs in the balance to defending your rights in the midst of transphobic violence, trafficking, sex work, and persecution, it is clear that the promise etched onto the Statue of Liberty to welcome the huddled masses doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

Join these filmmakers along with experts in the field for an urgent and frank discussion where we will tackle the issues facing queer and trans immigrants and asylum-seekers — from perspectives of policy, legal protections, and mental health — sharing experiences and resources in a safe and supportive space. Moderated by Carlos Aguilar.


Mastaneh Moghadam


Mastaneh Moghadam, LCSW, is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Cross-Cultural Expressions; where she overseas the development and implementation of multiple grants as well as the organizations Community Counseling Center, which specifically caters to the immigrant and underserved populations.


Mastaneh is active in facilitating various trainings, presentations, and workshops on a variety of subjects related to multicultural counseling; for organizations such as Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, Ayeneh Foundation, Pars Equality Center, etc; as well as on Iranian television and radio.


She was a weekly guest speaker on the KIRN 670am Radio program, “The Role of Self and Mental Health” from 2012 to 2015. She served as the co-chair of the Under Represented Ethnic Populations Domestic Violence Task-Force from 2008 to 2011; and she continues to be an active member of the Department of Mental Health’s Under Represented Ethnic Population, Eastern European/Middle Eastern Sub-committee and LGBTQ sub-committee since 2008, acting as their co-chair from 2009 to 2011.


Mastaneh has worked with the Iranian LGBTQ community for over 20 years, providing therapy to Iranian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals and their families. In January of 2015 Mastaneh started “We Do Care: Iranian American Parents of LGBTQ” support, advocacy and leadership groups. In July of 2017 Mastaneh, in collaboration with RAHA International, established and facilitates the Iranian-American LGBTQ support and leadership groups. In 2016, Mastaneh was honored with the JQ International Inspiration Award for bringing the Persian LGBTQ community into the forefront, while giving a voice and support to Persian parents of LGBTQ children.

Kenrick Ross


Kenrick Ross (he/him) is Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), a federation of 60+ LGBTQ+API organizations across the United States, and founder of Urban&Out, a LGBTQPOC professional and leadership development network.

He’s has made two short films, spoken and presented at 20+ conferences, and served on a dozen boards. He is also a fierce evangelist for LGBTQ-inclusive sports, especially all things tennis. He was born in Guyana, raised in the NYC area, and currently lives with his partner in New Jersey. He holds a BA in Politics from New York University, and an MS in Urban Policy and Leadership from CUNY-Hunter College.

Ishalaa Ortega


Ishalaa Ortega is a Human Rights Activist, Entertainer, Singer, Songs and Theater Writter, and Advisory board member for Familia: Trans-Queer 

Liberation Movement. Also works as a Care Coordinator in a Community Health Center. Ishalaa is currently finishing her bacchelor degree in Spanish Literature and Political Sciences at Hunter College.

 As an activist she has been able to be part of an international movement to help and 

promote immigrant people’s rights. She partnered with Immigration Equality in different projects to uplift Immigrant communities’ voices and stories.

David & Francisco Salazar


David & Francisco Salazar are award-winning filmmakers and media creators whose first feature Nowhere, based on the Latinx List screenplay “”Adrian and Sebastian”” won the Best feature Film at the Omovies Film Festival and Best First Film at the Villa del Cine festival in Colombia. The film was also selected to the Woods Hole Film Festival where it was the runner up Jury Award winner and Second Runner Up for the Audience Award. It was also selected for the OUTshine Film Festival, the Image Out and Image Nation Film Festivals. 


The Salazar Brothers have also directed a number of short films including Adrift, Bullied, Reverie, Messenger, and Conciliation. All their films have been showcased at regional film festivals all over the United States. 

In addition to their film work, they are the creators of OperaWire.com.

Carlos Aguilar


Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of six young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by RogerEbert.com, the Sundance Institute and Indiewire in 2014. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, MovieMaker Magazine, Remezcla, Filmmaker Magazine, among others. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).