Unsettled: Seeking Refuge In America documents the resettlement process of four immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, all of whom are LGBTQIA+. Subhi is from Syria, and due to that country’s stance on being gay or lesbian, his life was in danger. The young adult successfully petitioned the United Nations for refugee status and was granted permission to permanently take home in the United States, specifically San Francisco.
Junior, the gay son of a Congolese pastor, feared that simply leaving his house put him at risk for assault or death. He was also given refugee status by the UN and moved to the beacon of the LGBTQIA+ community as well. The last two people director Tom Shepard follows are Mari and Cheyenne. They are a couple, desperately in love and desperate to achieve a better life than in Angola, where they faced daily harassment and death threats from their neighbors.
“…documents the resettlement process of four immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, all of whom are LGBTQIA+.”
However, they only have a temporary visa and must state their case before the government for full asylum status. They are not allowed to work for the first six months but meet with their advocate and lawyer several times. Unsettled tracks these four individuals for multiple years, as they navigate the tricky process of acclimating to their new lives, or fighting to stay.
Junior has the hardest time it seems, as in just his first year, he moves ten times, including at one point, to a homeless shelter. He is also an alcoholic and moves way too fast in his relationships with men. Subhi decides that he wants to become an advocate and even speaks to the UN about his experiences as a gay man in Syria. But good things don’t last, as a relationship ends, and he finds himself priced out of several apartments and housing options.
Mari and Cheyenne like to work on their music, and while their day-to-day housing situation seems to be one place (I don’t recall them moving at all, once they arrive in the States), the fraught desperation of not knowing how long they stay weighs heavily on them. Things become especially hard for all four after Trump becomes president.
"…wants the viewer to be stirred and inspire them to act for change."