A Queer Latina Isn’t An Oxymoron

I’m not angry. I’m sad and disappointed.

Supergirl is the highlight of my Mondays. I cherish it, and the rest of the DCTV shows. They fill me with joy, wonder, and hope. They have so many flaws and problematic elements that I wouldn’t let other shows get away with, but I do because we all need that one thing that we don’t think too much about.

But last night’s episode broke my heart. A couple of months ago I read that the actress who plays Maggie is actually white, despite the character explicitly describing herself as “non-white”.

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I was upset but didn’t think too much about it, Maggie should have been bumped up to main cast instead of guest star by now if she was to stay. Season 3 started and seeing her and Alex’s conflicts about marriage confirmed my suspicions, this relationship wasn’t a forever thing. Soon Maggie would become a thing of the past.

Then she referred to her dad as Papi while recounting his awful reaction to her liking girls. Maybe she’s Italian, mixed with something else I thought. But nope, she calls her dad, speaking in pretty bad Spanish which prompts her father to visit her bridal shower.

And the actor who plays her dad? Also white. They get confirmed as Mexican and her dad goes on a tirade about Maggie’s queerness and The Wall (which how does that exist in this world a literal outer space alien is president of the United States) and states that the only thing they hate more than a Mexican is a homosexual. Which I don’t think is even a little bit true. Bigots think queerness can be changed, fixed. Being Latinx can’t be scrubbed away.

Ultimately, her dad doesn’t accept her. I think this type of story needs to be more common, to not constantly chase after shit parents. But when the premise of the rejection is culture and that culture is portrayed by white people, it becomes a sweeping generalization. It becomes a condemnation of all Latinx cultures instead of exploring the nuances in it. It makes Mexican cops bad but white academics/federal agents good.  It makes a queer Latina forever an oxymoron.

I expected more, especially from Supergirl. I relate to her because unlike Superman, she came to Earth at 9 years old. She remembers where she’s from. Clark grew up thinking he was human, actually belonging. Kara grew up knowing her home is gone, knowing her people were gone and trying to adapt to this new world that could so easily fear and reject her. People love making Superman the ultimate comic book argument for immigration and refugees when Supergirl is more representative of the exact people bigots hate the most. Those who haven’t completely assimilated.

As the episode ended I was reminded of Carmen from The L Word. When I found out the actress isn’t Latina my world crumpled a little bit. She was the first queer Latina character I saw and connected with after realizing my own queerness. And to have that stripped from me was heartbreaking. I’ve written before about how queer American media constantly overlooks and Americanizes Latinidad and after last night I feel like I’ll never stop.

 

 

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Surviving American Queer Media

I’m writing this on the evening of Sunday, June 11, 2017. Today was the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. It was the last day of one of the Pride parades on the island. It’s the anniversary of the Pulse massacre.

It’s a lot to take in.

I try to be vocal about trying to nourish these two parts of my identity when everything from my upbringing to the media I consume tell me they should not coexist. I take to Twitter often to express these feelings from deciding to put my puertorriqueñidad before my queerness to having to cater to a mostly white and American lgbtq+ student org as Vice-President.

My queerness has suffered so much that I often question it. I used to strongly identify as bisexual. I came out as bisexual last year. Yet the stigma that surrounds that word has made me recede into queer. That might not be a bad thing, I have found a lot of comfort in queer, and more recently cuir. Still, it has made me think of why.

It’s disheartening to see queer Latinas in media, the very few we get, be so mistreated. The L Word is a light among straight and male media, albeit if a dim one. When Carmen was introduced I was ecstatic. More than anything I wanted her to be happy, to assure me that I could be. She wasn’t. I wasn’t.

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Orange Is The New Black, a show adopted by the queer community, is violently white in its queerness. Only if you’re a white lesbian do you get a happily ever after. If you’re black, you get killed. If you’re Asian you get emotionally tortured. If you’re Latinx you’re best friends. You get nothing. I get nothing.

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Marvel is finally giving us the first book headlined by a queer Latina. America Chavez. Miss America. America. That’s her name. Because a powerful brown lesbian is a threat unless she’s dressed in red, white, and blue and fighting for patriotism. As a comic book and superhero nerd, I’ve been waiting for a character like her for forever.

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But I cannot bring myself to read it. I can’t do it anymore. I only know how to be queer in English, in American. In a language, a culture and a country that has consistently abused me and my country for over a hundred years. We’re supposed to take the crumbs and be not only happy but grateful for it. It’s disrespectful. It’s damaging. It’s sickening.

This is probably why my fiction almost always revolves queer Latinas. I’m currently in the process of applying for grad school and part of that process is figuring out which stories I will submit with my application. I’ve been struggling these past few weeks while trying to write the second one, something about coming back home and change. Something that isn’t queer because the other story is and I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a “lesbian romance” writer. Because people look down on that.

But the more I think about it, the more I feel like I’m restraining myself. I like writing these stories. I’m pretty sure I’m good at it too. It’s what feels most natural to me, most fulfilling. Writing them makes me feel what I want to feel. There’s joy and hope within me whenever I’m typing away the interactions of two women that deeply care about each other.

I feel like I write more about love and want and caring than actual romance. Maybe that’s because queer Latina stories don’t have the happy endings that romance often requires. And I’ll keep writing in the hopes that one day I’ll get to do romance. Not only for the characters here that their writers failed but for the future readers I won’t.

 

“Dear White People” Failed AfroLatinxs

Listen. I love Dear White People. It’s a great show. It’s probably required watching, whatever the hell that means. But it isn’t perfect. We need to talk about Latinxs in the show and how we’re given the shaft. I’m apprehensive about critiquing this show because I might come off as insensitive at best and anti-black at worst. I also know that not being AfroLatina, I can only give a very superficial perspective of this. Maybe I shouldn’t even be giving my opinion at all. But it’s something that we need to urgently discuss.

The show is about black issues, first and foremost. I understand this. I’m not saying all marginalized groups needed a particular chunk out of the show because that would be detrimental to it. What I am saying is that there are black Latinxs and they are given absolutely no space in this narrative. You’ve got a spectrum of melanin shades, different political ideologies and even an African character to contrast the American experience. Yet the most AfroLatinxs get is Giancarlo Esposito as the “ethnic but non-threathening” narrator.

Actually, scratch that. I just Googled Esposito and apparently, he’s Italian, not Latino. Sure, just go ahead and give him more AfroLatino roles instead of actual AfroLatinos. It’s not like they’re woefully underrepresented while non-Latinxs keep winning awards for playing them (looking at you Moonlight).

A couple of times in the show the main cast tries to garner support from other groups on campus. Troy does a final stint of campaigning and talks to a variety of people, appealing to each individual group via various forms of pandering. When he reaches out to the Latinx demographic of campus (presumably, for all we know they could be from Spain) he’s preaching to them in Spanish as they remain faceless, nameless, and voiceless apart from some indistinguishable exclamations of support. Cause we all speak Spanish and only Spanish, right?

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Oh and get this. The only two characters that actually speak are the gardeners in the background commenting on how they can’t vote. Just drive in that knife even further. I’m surprised they didn’t shoehorn in a Venezuelan maid for the over the top dorms. Of course, when he went to talk with the Asian students, he spoke in English and students in the crownd had dialogue lines.

The Black Student Union also reaches out to organizations on campus to get support for a protest. They go to the Asian Student Alliance, the LGBTQIA Union, and the Young Democrats. Yep, the Young Democrats, the breeding ground of those who will die protecting the system instead of the people it exploits. Yet, they couldn’t even bother to give Latinxs an organization with a name. Because we’re floundering and lazy and are just grateful to the country that destroyed our homes, so organizing is pointless. Cause we’ve already made it.

An AfroLatina friend pointed out to me a joke from the movie the show is based on. “There was a shitty joke in the movie that was like “you’re not black you’re Puerto Rican” or something so I’m not surprised “. As if these things are mutually exclusive. Who are we to define anyone’s Blackness or Latinidad? Who are we to say that people need to choose one way or the other? Our struggles all come hand in hand and ignoring these intersections only invisibilize the problems further. 

I don’t want a whole episode dedicated to the AfroLatinx/Caribbean diaspora. It deserves its own platform and creators that have lived that experience. But a small nod to Latinxs, who have the most similar experience to black Americans in the United States, seemed logical and needed.

Here’s hoping for a season 2.

WVU For One

Academia is a cesspool of whiteness and privilege. This is what I’ve learned time and again during my time at West Virginia University. It has tried to drop kick me at every point of my academic career, from professors and classmates to dining halls and student union decor. I’ve wanted to give up, especially lately, but that means they win. Plus, how could I pass up on this such quality writing material?

WVU prides itself in its “diversity”. They’ll spout about it any chance they get. But it all feels so fake and forced that it’s borderline gaslighting. “They’re making an effort!” “See, they sent out an e-mail!”.

It’s not enough.

Let’s take a look at their latest “attempt”. I saw this image circulating around Twitter today:

Now, I can only speak to the two statements I can relate to the most: Latinx and International Students. The Latinx one particularly bothered me. It felt like they bent over backward trying to find a way to say “the border wall is not cool, but we don’t actually WANT to say it”.  The wall centered message not only hegemonizes Latinidad to mean Mexican, but tries to appropriate a violent symbol into comfort, and fails.

The International Students statement feels similar, using “our borders” as reminders that we’re on THEIR land in THEIR country. That it is not ours and we are not welcome, we are but temporary guests despite them burning our own homes down. Which brings me to my next border-related point.

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from the Reed College of Media inviting people on a Marketing Club trip.

racist field tripWhat caught my attention was placing Brunner and the pro-Trump, pro-wall, Superbowl 84 Lumber ad as the highlight of the trip. They called it “remarkable” and everything. If you’re not familiar with the ad, Latino Rebels wrote an excellent piece on it.

I was horrified. So I sent an email to the address provided. I explained the ad and its disservice to Latinx communities and urged WVU Marketing Club and Reed College of Media to denounce it, and the company and creators behind it. I emphasized that even as journalists and communicators, we cannot remain “neutral” when there is clearly one side in the wrong. This validates violence and hatred and destroys credibility and trust.

The reply was more infuriating. Starting with a defensive “First off” followed by an apology and a generic ‘I don’t condone Trump’. Immediately after that was a Merriam-Webster definition of “remarkable” to defend the word choice. Not only is pulling out the dictionary a lazy argument in perception, but it completely ignores connotation and denotation.

Then, the pièce de résistance:

The agency is an employer of multiple alumni, including our department chair as well. Although this can be perceived as a negative advertisement, they have served multiple other companies (such as Dicks Sporting Goods, DuckTape, Westinghouse, and many more). We have toured this company in the past few years before this advertisement was even published. It would be quite unprofessional as an organization to cancel out last minute due to their interactions with one of their clients. I hope you understand our decision to push forward with the trip.

Past good work doesn’t erase the damage of this one. I now understand that “professionalism” and decorum are more important than my humanity.

This little field trip is administration-sponsored violence. This is the type of violence I deal with every day. My university promoting pro-wall messages for the sake of networking and prestige.

So no, this isn’t #OneWVU.

I Am Not A Teaching Tool.

A classmate contacted me via Twitter last night asking for my help on an assignment. It was for her Spanish class. She had to interview a native Spanish speaker and ask them about education and culture. My instinct was to ignore her, come up with an excuse, skip class, tell her off.

I avoided the message until the morning. I still wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. It made me so angry and uncomfortable that I could have easily refused without a dent in my conscience. But then I thought about the professor who assigned it. As students, we’re often held at the mercy of professors’ whims. We can follow along, fail, or clash with our professors at the risk of being blackballed academically. And the last few weeks isn’t a time to be trifling with professors and our grades. So I agreed.

The interview was fine, for the most part. I answered complex questions as simply as I could. I kept my Spanglish to a minimum, almost as if I was the one being graded. I kept telling this girl that her rough Spanish was fine because I’ve been socialized to protect gringos’ egos.

After the interview, she thanked me again and I asked her a little bit more about the assignment. Her teacher had in fact assigned her students to just go out and pester Spanish speakers for their assignment. My classmate expressed how she found it awkward and uncomfortable. I agreed, stating that it was problematic. That it’s not my job to educate my classmates. She said her professor should understand, she’s from Spain.

Of course. Speaking Spanish is cool if you’re from Spain I said bitterly. I should have expected this, that the original oppressors would continue to perpetuate the commodification of Latinxs. I can already picture her going over the audio of our interview thinking that my Spanish is too Americanized, too vulgar, too free.

This isn’t the first time I was used in this way for an assignment. A year ago a classmate asked me to say some words in Spanish so she could record my pronunciation. Her instructor had also assigned this.

I am a person, not a teaching tool. For years, I’ve been socialized to believe that I was. When I first came to West Virginia I secretly hoped that something in Spanish would come up so that I would be there to save the day and translate. To be useful. Because that’s how I’ve been taught to measure my worth in this country. By my usefulness and the exploitation of it.

I shouldn’t be expected to help my fellow students in the gentrification of Spanish. Because that’s the Spanish that is taught. Spain Spanish. The “official” Spanish. The “correct” Spanish. My Caribbean Spanish is constantly thrown aside, being called incorrect and “ghetto”, but then I’m expected to teach it to those who need language credits to graduate.

No más. Want a translation or a lesson? Pay me.

 

My Depression Doesn’t Matter Because It Isn’t White

It’s more than my brain’s unbalanced chemicals. It’s hundreds of years of colonialism. It’s the constant guilt of leaving my country for its oppressor. It’s being first generation migrant in a post-first generation society. It’s my only surrounding community hyphenating -American into their identity when my ancestors and I never had the choice. It’s being asked to cite and source my experiences to validate them.

Because when I post my frustrations my white Facebook friends have to one up me. Because when I’ve never had a community, their sudden loss of it is more urgent. Because those I called my friends hit me with “do you want nachos with that” jokes whenever I dare grace them by sharing my Spanish. Because those “friends” skip my cafre reggaetón cause they don’t like listening to foreign music, but European pop is just fine. Because my White Feminist friend lets this shit slide knowing full well it’s wrong because I was never a favorite. Because they like all my posts calling out the privileged but won’t share them to their own privileged audience. Because all my friends are white.

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How am I supposed to walk into my university’s mental health facilities in West Virginia and get the help I truly need? So that some white person can sit there and tell me that I don’t have to place the burden of my isla on my shoulders without understanding that they’re complicit in piling on the weight. So that they’ll tell me that I need to be less angry, and understand the other side, the side that hates me for existing. That the chances of whoever is there to guide me in my healing likely voted for the exacerbator of my illness.

My creative writing classmates always have the same notes on my writing. “Too much Spanish”, “had to Google Translate it”, “not everyone can understand it”. As if I already hadn’t hand held them with context clues and follow up translations. Because I didn’t write it for them. Because I DARED not write for them. They remain quiet in my workshops and don’t turn in critiques because my essay is littered with the word gringo and themes of colonialism, but I have to read about their friend who hurls racial slurs over Xbox chat as a funny descriptor and praises to Confederate generals.

Depression is commodified, it’s a tear jerker and sells empty TV shows when it’s the specific “they never should have been sad” depression. My depression is anger, coraje. It’s being tired of the world being this way and no one caring. Anger that people so often find amusing or funny. Because I’ve had to learn to phrase my rage in a way that won’t off-put people, and that means hints of comedy. But in doing so people choose to see only that, the comedy and not the commentary. Not the intense pain that led me to this. And the more I share, the less people care. “Stop complaining so much” “It is what it is”. If we’re not pleasant, we’re not valid. So my illness isn’t either.

My depression passed down from my Mami and all the Mami’s before her all the way to Colón is too political, too controversial, too uncomfortable, too angry to treat. Because the treatment isn’t meds or therapy, but liberation. Y me duele dudar que algún día llegue.

13 Reasons Why Not

I binged watched this show in two days and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Save yourself the trouble and read this instead. Like any good review/commentary, spoilers ahead.

1. 13 Reasons Why is Liberty High; covering their bases in an attempt to look like they care.

2. It banks heavily off nostalgia. I never read the book during my teen years. I picked it up a couple of times when Borders still existed. I’m glad I never did. I’d be frantically looking for redeeming qualities in the show or blindly defending it.

3. There was lost potential in discussing Courtney’s intense internalized homophobia. The reasons she gives Clay of hiding despite having gay dads is valid, but she doesn’t grow beyond this. It isn’t credible behavior.

4. A great chance to explore the unreliable narrator completely squandered. It’s brought up a couple of times that Hannah lied, but the conclusion is that it was all true. Except that it’s not. Zack clearly proved her a liar when showing Clay the unwrinkled note. This destroys Hannah’s credibility and leaves some huge gaps in the plot.

5. Clay is a White Male Hero who takes it upon himself to avenge his pride and validate his emotions by making Hannah the face of his crusade. The show is about his pain and angst and framing it so makes Hannah unsympathetic and shady at best and an attention-seeking manipulator at worst.

6. Brings up killing rapists. Doesn’t follow through.

7. Clay and Hannah feel too much like John Green protagonists. My hatred for John Green is another post entirely as is who influenced who, but they’re arrogant and think everyone’s actions is their responsibility.

8. It’s an incredibly narrow view of suicide. That everyone else is to blame. This is the base of Clay’s crusade and it’s incredibly disrespectful. Yes, we could all stand to be more humane but Clay takes away the last ounce of control Hannah had over her life. He’s appropriating her suffering to opt out of his shittiness.

9. And on Clay’s shittiness, he’s a violent bystander who thinks his biggest failure to Hannah was obeying her wishes. He was complicit in her slut shaming. He was righteous to the very end. That’s why he couldn’t handle listening to the tapes all at once like a normal goddamn human being. He had to share the crux, the guilt, the redemption.

10. Racially and sexual identity diverse characters. Not discussed how this impacts differently each of their experiences in high school. Diversity is more than a quota, it’s discussing marginalized groups experiences.

11. Based on a book written by a man about a girl. Just don’t.

12. Clay gets his happy ending with an improved Hannah (Skye) who’s strong enough to not commit suicide while everyone is left to deal with his wreckage and the inevitable school shooting of season two (see Tyler’s trunk of guns). Yikes.

13. Bryce the rapist gets absolved of listening to Hannah’s tapes. He gets off the hook at every turn and the audience is only left with the promise of justice. Irresponsible and harming. Do better now instead of banking on a season two.

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Si, yo también. Mano, les voy hablar bien claro, bien directo, bien yo aqui. Tengo el puto corazón roto. Y esto es de alguien que odió los tres años que estuvo en la IUPI, no puedo ni imaginar el dolor que sienten las personas que de verdad la aman.

Dejame empezar diciendoles como la IUPI me falló. Su facultad de comunicaciones es anticuada y limitada. Cualquier papelería es un cabrón lio. Hacer matrícula es un peo y graduarse nunca se vio como una posibilidad. Nunca tuve un profe que me inspirara y toda esa mierda clichosa y en vez tuve unos antojones que segían promoviendo la toxicidad de ese ambiente tan echón académico. El DMN tenía asbesto. HUMA no tiene aire acondicionado. Que la torre suene cada 15 minutos es demasiao. Enserio que cerraron Pollo Tropical?

Pero, puñeta. Ese sitio me formó. Por más que odie cuando las instituciones toman crédito por los logros de los individuales, yo no sería quien soy si no hubiese estudiado en Rio Piedras. Fue ahí donde encontré mi sentido de estilo. Fue ahí donde aprendí a tomar control sobre mi tiempo. Fue ahí donde comenzé a escribir cuentos en la parte de atrás de mis libretas en vez de prestar atención a clase. Fue ahí donde aprendí que comer sola no es lo peor del mundo. Fue ahí donde aprendí que mi amor no es tan limitado como antes lo creía. Fue ahí donde decidí viajar a Korea del Sur sola y donde decidí venir a West Virginia.

Fue ahí donde yo tiré raices para después poder crecer mis ramas. Y ahora lo veo en un precipicio, a punto de explotar, de caer, de desvanecer. No te puedo expresar lo guilty que me siento por irme. Si, yo soy una de esas. Vendepatria, traidora, abadonadora, brincacharco que se fue de la isla odiandola. Odiandola por hacerme odiarme a mi. Pero a la gente no le importa eso. No le importa que necesitaba tiempo aparte de ese lugar que me llevó a las profundidades de mi depresión. Honestamente, no sé que hubiese sido de mi si me hubiese quedado.

Ya empieza el tercer año de yo irme, y ha pasado suficiente tiempo para mirar a la IUPI sin el odio y rencor que me sembró. Mano, ahí hay mucha gente buena, gente que le importa, gente que estan redy pa la lucha y eso lo admiro un cojón. Y yo no admiro muchas cosas. En la high me rehusaba ir a la IUPI por lo de las huelgas y ahora las venas me laten para tirarme a la calle y hacer algo. Porque yo pienso volver. No se cuando, pero yo vuelvo a Puerto Rico de alguna manera. Y quiero ser parte de la lucha para alzarla. No sé que podría hacer desde aquí, pero algo me averiguaré. Porque llevo la jerezana, la ave de pelea por dentro.

Lady Gaga’s political-ish performance

Yes, yet another blog post about whether or not Lady Gaga’s Superbowl was political. Here’s the short version: sure.

Many have praised how Gaga performed Born This Way, a queer anthem, in front of a typically heteronormative audience, including homophobe in chief Mike Pence. And sure, that can’t be argued. The power of this song and Gaga herself is undeniable but it’s very clear the audience this was meant for. The LGBTQ community.

As part of the community myself, I appreciate it. Perhaps not as much as I would have some years ago when I was first coming out and coming to terms with myself, but nonetheless I’m sure it helped some young queer kid out there.

However, as a Latina woman, as a Puerto Rican woman, it fell short. You can’t start off singing This Land Is Your Land in an attempt to be welcoming to everyone when This Land was stolen and My Land was exploited to the point of forcing me to come here. This romanticized reason for immigration, which has overrun mainstream political conversations concerning immigration, is shallow and fails to recognize

People don’t come to the U.S. to make their lives better because it’s the best country in the world, it’s because they’ve left us no other choice. This romanticized reason for immigration, which has overrun mainstream political conversations concerning immigration, is shallow and fails to recognize that this country was founded on murder and colonialism. These ideals are still very much at the core of the country today, just look at our current government.

The American Dream is the epitome of Stockholm Syndrome. I used to believe it once when I first came here. I hated my country. That hatred simmered inside me, ignited by only consuming American media and the constant colonialist ideologies that were thrown at me all throughout my life. I’ve finally made progress in unlearning some of this, seeing the U.S. as our jailer, instead of our benefactor.

Lady Gaga was politically on brand. I honestly can’t blame her. In an era when so many marginalized groups are being targeted, I wouldn’t blame people for putting their needs as a priority. That’s not to say that I don’t promote solidarity. It’s imperative to do so in terms of intersectionality and impactful change, but we can’t individually champion every fight equally. That’ll burn you out before you actually change anything.

Should Gaga have made a more educated and explicit political message? Perhaps, but there’s so much weight a white woman’s statement can make (Let’s not forget that most white women voted for Trump) without sounding like they’re taking over the conversation. Gaga was smart in staying in her lane, but she was also measurably safe.

I’m not sure how much ‘safe’ we can afford these days anymore.

Prides

Last summer on a bus from Pisa to Rome I read about the Pulse shooting in Orlando. I was thankful to have both seats to myself so I could lay down and pretend to sleep while I cried. Tragedies like this don’t really affect me. I get angry and disappointed and sad when these things happen and they impact how I see the world, but this is the first one ever to impact how I see my life.

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I didn’t know any of the victims personally, but I knew their names. They were names I grew up with. Names my teachers would call out to take attendance. Names of my friends. Names of my family. Names so common to me it was as if I was one of them. I still can’t read those names without tearing up.

I haven’t learned how to be queer and latina at the same time. In the past two years I’ve searched a lot in terms of my identity. I left my country and found a fresh start to be openly queer, without owing anyone explanations. There was no need to come out, this was just people meeting me for the first time. The full me. But in cultivating my queerness I forgot to tend to my latinidad. My queerness became gringx and borinken wept inside me.

Pulse left me an aftermath. It forced me to reconcile two aspects of my identity that often find themselves at odds. It made me see the overlaps and learn how they feed into each other and overflow onto my life. It made me want to take more action, even if it’s small steps, as Vice-President of my university’s LGBTQ student org. It has made me merge these parts of my identity in everything I work on, from my creative writing to my choice in internships.

One of the things that made me the angriest about this tragedy was how white washed it was portrayed by the media. Consistently media outlets failed to recognize that the majority of the victims were latinx. They don’t want cultures that they see so rooted in gender roles break them. They don’t want their fantasies of macho men and hyper sexual and feminine women destroyed. They don’t want us to invade their spaces when they’ve done nothing but destroy ours.

I should have written this piece months ago. But looking ahead at a 2017 where bigots have run amok trying to destroy practically every aspect of my identity, it felt like the right time. I don’t know what this year will bring for me as a queer woman of color living in West Virginia. What I do know is that I am ready to chew up and spit out anyone who dares to lessen me.