Affidavit of Christine Soto in ACLU, et al v. Reno
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ACLU et al. v. RENO
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AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
I, Christine Soto, of Los Angeles, California, do hereby depose and swear:
1. My name is Christine A. Soto. I live at 3011 Boulder St. Los Angeles, CA. I am an eighteen-year-old Chicana bom in Sacramento, raised in Los Angeles ( the Eastside of L.A). I am a lesbian and I have been out for over four years now. I consider myself lucky to be able to be open about my sexuality.
9. Mv mom was born and raised in the heart of Mexico. She came to the U.S with traditional Mexican views and beliefs. But two days before New Year's in 1991 I came out to her, and that turned her views, beliefs, and her world upside down. After many discussions she began to see that there was nothing wrong with me. I was still myself and I was still her daughter.
3. After I took the biggest step in my life (coming out to my mom), my battles had only begun. My mom made an effort to try and understand, but would everyone else? My question was soon answered when I returned to school. It was answered by fellow students and a couple of narrowminded teachers. At that point I began to realize and experience how cruel people can be. I tried to endure high school but my efforts fell short. I left my local high school and transferred to E.A G.L.E.S. Center. (E.A G.L.E.S. Center is an alternative high school for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender, and Heterosexual teens who are having a hard time in a mainstream high school. E.A.G.L.E.S. Center offers a safer and more understanding atmosphere.)
4. My grades and class status really improved after I transferred to E.A.G.L.E.S. Center. At E.A G.L.E.S. is where I learned to take pride in my sexuality. And take pride I did. I got involved with the student body in appearing at debates, in documentaries, in the yearbook and most importantly in the Gay and Lesbian Prom. I went on to graduate at the age of sixteen. I graduated with two scholarships, honors from the City of Los Angeles, and with special honors from the American Legion. Probably the most mlportant part of graduating was that I was the first from my family to complete high school. I was a sixteen-year-old Chicana Lesbiana that made it through high school.
5. Someone once told me for every storm there is a rainbow. My rainbow was learning how to witte poetry. I 1earned how express my feelings in poetry when I was in the tenth grade. I was still attending my regular high school then. I had this really cool teacher who told me that poetry had no guidelines or rules. The only thing you had to do was to let it all out, and so I did. That semester I entered a poetry contest that the school was having, and to my surprise I won first prize. That inspired me to keep writing.
6. I have always had a problem with expressing mysel£, but poetry has become my outlet, my voice in society. Writing killed some demons that I had been carrying with me for a long time. Most importantly, poetry has let me reach out to people with problems similar to the ones I have gone through and the problems that I am now going through. I also like to use my poetry to shed light on the hardship my fellow Mexicans are suffering. My love for poetry is why I have decided to major in English when I transfer to a four year university. I want to become a police officer or attomey, and a Saturday English teacher at a local college. I also plan to publish my poetry in the near future.
7. I have now been been involved with YouthArts for two years. I got involved with YouthArts at E.A.G.L.E.S. Center. YouthArts began with our school's yearbook; we were given a chance to use our creativity in the yearbook. And so we did-we put our poetry and art in it, which we never ever had seen in a yearbook. At the time in which the yearbook was supposed to come out, we wree already thinking that we would like to publish more of our work through the lnternet, and so we titled our yearbook the EAGLES Zine. (Magazines that are distributed and published on the Internet are sometimes called 'zines".)
8. After we published the Zine, Patricia Nell Warren and Bob Kitzmiller worked hard to be able to get YouthArts started. We met very often to discuss the set up of YouthArts (designs, page layout, etc.). For the first time in my life, my ideas were heard and meant something. I was involved in a project that not only provided me with an opportunity to voice my feelings but to reach out to others who are going through similar experiences. I feel that by writing and publishing poetry I am comforting teens and adults.
9. The importance of YouthArts is crucial, because Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual teens who are out or teens who are just beginning to question their sexuality need to be aware that they are not alone. I am human and so are they. I feel a need to belong and I know that I am not alone. That is why I keep writing-to let people know that they are not alone and that there is someone out there who is standing behind them in case they fall.
10. Another reason why I think that YouthArts presence on the Internet is crucial is because it also educates people who read our work, see the art and photos. It is important for people to be able to see our human side, the side that cries and laughs, the side that is just like anyone else.
11. In the process of putting my work up on the Internet, I have also discovered information on Abortion, Politics, and History. The information on Abortion was very useful to me, because I needed to do research for a term paper but most of the books lacked information, and most books were checked out. The information was very straightforward and very useful. As a result of the information that I gathered, I got an A' on my term paper.
12. The Internet as also let me communicate with people in different parts of the country and diffrent parts ofthe world. Every time I sign on to the Internet, I have access to a ton of information. I like to think that I have access to a world of knowledge through the Internet.
13. I think that it is very important that teens have the opportunity to look at other teens doing something positive. Some of my friends who are not yet eighteen want to find an outlet to their frustration, depression, and unhappiness. And I feel that by showing them how their peers express their creativity, then they can use their own creativity to let out their emotions.
14. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender youth struggle a lot in society, partly because of ridicule they experience at school, home, and/or on the street, and partly because of their own struggle to accept themselves. These kinds of issues face many teens, more teens than we are aware of. The sad part is that some teens cannot handle the stress, and commit suicide. I feel that if they are aware of zines like YouthArts, then they will see other teens that are just like them and communicate their feelings with others. If YouthArts reaches out to at least one teen and makes a difference, then it makes my involvement with YouthArts is worthwhile.
15. The Communications Decency Act would really restrict ny form of expressiom. I write what I feel, and I use no boundaries. I like writing about fantasies, family issues, and experiences such as growing up without a permanent father figure, the wrong path I took and its consequences. Under the Communications Decency Act some of this might be illegal. Most importantly I write about the struggle of Minories in the U.S. I really don't use language that I think is "indecent". But I use references to the human body, such as breast in a poem. I discussed how wonderful it would be if I could wake with myy girlitiend's breast pressed against my chest. That line in my poem is not "indecent" in rny view. My writing also makes reference to intimate contact with my girlfriend, for instance "Our bodies wrapped together as one, Our bodies moving softly under the light from the moon." To me that line is merely expressive, but under the Communications Decency Act it might be considered indecent. Which basically means that I would no longer be able to write what I feel.
16. Without my writing to pull me out of financial hardships, I don't know what I would do. My writing is hopefully going to be published this year, and the way I get my name out in circulation is by putting my poetry on the Internet. I try to make my work and name known, so when that book of poetry hits the bookstore I will be known.
17. If this Communication Decency Act is enforced, then I will no longer be able to publish on the Internet because what is decent to me may not be decent to the people enforcing the CDA. And I will no longer have my right to express myself freely. I fear that the CDA will be a stepping stone to censor my poetry on the radio, T.V. and in books. I don't believe that I should be forced to give up my right to express myself freely, when there is software that you can use to prevent access to inappropriate rnaterial.
18. I have attached as Exbibit A one of rny poems, entitled "To See You." I have published this poem on the YouthArts web page.
19. I have attached as Exhibit B one of my poems, emitled "Let Me." I have published this Tooem on the YouthArts web page.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on March 7, 1996.
To See You
To see your brown eyes so deep and hypnotizing To see your beautiful face, it's a perfect example of heaven on earth
I long for the chance to caress your silky smooth body The chance to kiss your tender lips, and run my toungue up and down your soft breast The chance to become your companion, and walk down the street holding your hand Or maybe just the chance to hold you, on the beach, at night, under the stars
I have dreamt of the day in which I could wake with you in my arms and your breast pressed against my chest The aroma of your perfume would still be in the air, the taste of your body would still be on my toungue.
There are some questions I can't answer, why didn't God keep your beauty for himself, and why did he send an Angel to this corrupt place we call home
But the mystery that remains is how I lived without you, that is a mystery waiting to be solved.
Come to me and ease your lips toward mine, lay your body on the silk sheets let your mind wonder to the sound of the slow jams on the radio, let the smell of the incense take you away, let the temporary heat form the candles warm your body while the rythym of our bodies begin to take us to the world of ecstasy
Let the sweat run down your body, let me feel your body'd softness and excitement, let my passion for you set the night on fire, let me try to heal any pain you may contain Just let me try to help you the way I so desperately need you to help me.