Here is the thing: I have no doubt Gay.com truly, sincerely and authentically wants to get to know me a little bit better. Heck! I'm sure they are patting themselves in the back for showing some inclusivity. But why am I still laughing about their recent attempt at knowing LGBT Latinos?
On Wednesday, the web portal posted a column on their site (as well as on PlanetOut) asking Latinos to tell them "What’s Your Gay Latino/Hispanic Life Like?" Never mind that while I might identify as a Latino man, I'm not sure that my "gay life" is too Latino or Hispanic. I mean, should I tell them I dance salsa every morning and eat nacho chips with guacamole every night?
Digging deeper, let's take a look at how they frame Latino/Hispanic gay life:
Judging by their questions they seem to think that gay Latinos are in the closet ("As a Latino/Hispanic, do you have a 'coming out' story specific to your culture? Or do you have any stories describing why you feel you cannot 'come out' as an LGBT Latino?"), prone to being victims of homophobic attacks ("Could you provide an experience where you were a victim of gay bashing/abuse from fellow Latinos vs. non-Hispanic people, whether you were 'out' or not?"), have no access to books, television, films or computers ("How did you learn about sex and sexual orientation? Was it from family, friends, religion, etc?" or "How did you learn about STDs and safe sex? Was it culturally specific through organizations or just through personal experiences?"), and might not get what 'gayness' entails ("What are your perceptions of what makes a gay man - top/bottom or other roles? - and a lesbian in Latino/Hispanic culture?").
That's not necessarily wanting to know more about LGBT Latinos. It's requesting that LGBT Latinos respond according to a number of stereotypical assumptions about being Latino and LGBT (you know, that there are few if any out LGBT Latinos, that Latinos are more homophobic, and that we might define sexuality by the sexual positions we assume when having sex).
Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but here is the kicker: What was the impetus behind Gay.com's new-found interest on finding out more about LGBT Latinos? Why none other that Mexican-American singer Linda Ronstadt!
In an interview that also was posted on Gay.com on Wednesday, Ms. Ronstadt, who to her credit has always been a strong ally to LGBT Latinos, speaks about lesbian ranchera singer Lucha Reyes, the passage of Prop. 8 in California last year, homophobia in the Latino community, and her role coordinating the upcoming San Jose Mariachi Festival (Ms. Rondstadt, once known more for her pop hits, has embraced Mex-Tex and Mariachi big band culture and enjoyed great acclaim and success in this stage of her prolific career).
"Ronstadt's involvement" Gay.comwrites, "made us want to know more about the cultural experiences of being LGBT in the Latino/Hispanic community."
Anyway, who knows? Perhaps Gay.com will get some good feedback and profile a number of groovy gay Latinos. But, just as Gay.com tells Ms. Ronstadt that "something needs to be done to bridge the gay gap in the Hispanic community", perhaps Gay.com also needs to do something about the fact that, in this day and age, they seem to have no clue about LGBT Latinos nor seem to know any out LGBT Latinos they could have interviewed on these topics.
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