Monday, August 31, 2009

Where doth lie that rarest of breeds they call "The Gay Latino"?

Here is the thing: I have no doubt 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'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 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 will get some good feedback and profile a number of groovy gay Latinos. But, just as tells Ms. Ronstadt that "something needs to be done to bridge the gay gap in the Hispanic community", perhaps 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.


Anonymous said...

It looks like any question they could ask you is in some way "stereotyped," so it looks like your job is to break down those stereotypes in your ANSWERS rather than bashing the questions themselves.

Lucrece said...

Having lived in Venezuela for most of my life, yeah, I would consider that Latin American sample considerably more homophobic, less safe for LGBT's, and significantly behind culturally.

Black and Latino cultures are usually more religious, so it's not surprising LGBT issues are in a worse state in them. LGBT treatment in Latin and African American media is atrocious. TV programs outside of novelas have virtually no gay representation; and if there are some, none of them ever come close to a visible gay relationship, much less sexual awareness.

Machismo is still rather alive and well in Latino culture. If you're so afraid of Latin American culture coming off as backwards, fix it; don't spin it another way to make you feel better.

With that said, yeah, the technology issue did annoy me. I recall a trip with my cousin to Islands of Adventure, and some American frats started hitting on my very pretty cousins, and their questions regarding her cell phone made it seem as if all Hispanics were dirt-stamping "indígenas" fighting off anacondas in the Amazon.

Qvato said...

If Unid@s had formed in a timely manner, wouldn't be asking these questions. =oX

BTW does the first Anonymous commenter work for

The questions are pretty ludicrous, but at the same time I wonder what we as queer Latinos do to perpetuate these stereotypes.

Answers they're hoping for: came out to my family and my parents prayed for 7 days; Latinos called me puto, while my white friends were so accommodating; learned about sex through a catholic priest.

Jon said...

The way there are different kinds of Latinos there are different kinds of gay men within a homosexual community. The person/people answering those questions will either answer it or won't have an answer. Essentially it's a way to figure out if indeed those stereotypes are true.

Yes, Latinos are tons more homophobic. Can't evade that no matter how hard we try.