Thursday, May 26, 2011

Live video event: "Queer Prom 2011" from Chicago

Tomorrow Friday, May 27th, Chicago's National Museum of Mexican Art will be hosting "Queer Prom 2011".
The annual event, currently on its seventh year, will be themed "Unapologetically Fierce / Orgullozamente Feroz" and draw inspiration from the activism of queer youth on immigration and LGBT rights.

From the press release:
A new law in Alabama (SB 256) has targeted undocumented youth from attending any extracurricular school activities, including prom. Many young LGBT students of color experience this dual identity. Yet, they continue to boldly come out of the closet in multiple ways. Please join us in celebrating these unapologetically fierce youth who continue to make strides within the LGBT movement.
This year, Blabbeando is proud to be a media sponsor and, to that effect, this blog will be carrying a live video-feed of the main program scheduled to begin at approximately 8pm Central Standard Time (see the USTREAM video window below).

The event is an opportunity for queer and non-queer students in the predominantly Latino Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen to celebrate their prom in a safe-space. The event presented by Radio Arte’s youth produced radio programs Homofrecuencia and Qphonic.

Once the live feed is over, the event will remain on USTREAM so, even if you miss it, make sure to come back and watch it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Post: For this, and so much more, thank you Ricky Martin

PHOTO: Ricky Martin fan and queer poet and author extraordinaire Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano!

Last year, when Ricky Martin came out, I found myself searching for words to express just how monumental a step it had been for the Latino LGBT movement. I wasn't necessarily able to find my own words to describe my feelings but I did find an amazing blog post by my friend Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano on the subject, which I ran as a guest post ("Why Ricky Martin Matters", March 30, 2010 ).

A little more than a year after I featured that post, Lorenzo is back to explain how he felt when he had the chance to catch Ricky Martin's current 'M+A+S' music tour.  Cross-posted from his blog Hairspray & Fideo, here is Lorenzo's 2nd guest post on Blabbeando. Enjoy!
Ricky Martin's MAS Tour: Por esto, y tanto más, gracias. 
by Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a huge Ricky Martin fan. I’ve been a lover of his music since the longhair days of “Fuego Contra Fuego.” In the early 90’s, I’d rush home to catch him as “Pablo” in Alcanzar una Estrella II, and Sundays I would be glued to the tv waiting for Ricky to make an appearance on Siempre en Domingo.

Years later, the very thought of Ricky’s music takes me back to my pre-teen years of crushes on boys in Secundaria, and the silence that stood between us. Having collected all of his albums and holding “Las Almas del Silencio” as his most artistic effort yet, I couldn’t help but (literally) jump out of bed when a cousin sent a text offering me tickets to Ricky’s MAS concert in San José.

After inviting and coordinating with a few friends, we were on the road from San Francisco to my hometown of San José. On the way, I played a number of Ricky’s songs ranging from “Dime Que Me Quieres,” stopping at the infamous “Livin’ la Vida Loca” crossover days, cruising through his tattooed reggaetón days of LIFE, and landing with the music video for “Lo Mejor de Mi Vida Eres Tú.” I was ready.

Although much of my time thinking and writing about Ricky this past year has been less about his music and more about his coming out and what it means for our communities, I wasn’t expecting anything overtly queer at the concert. Well, except for the sea of brown gay & bi men, of course.

As we arrived at the venue, I was happy to see my fellow jotos and patos representing with fierce rhinestone shirts and enough sharp eyebrows to cut a Luis Miguel fan. What I didn’t expect were the Christian protestors holding up the “Gay Sex is Sin” signs I’m used to seeing at Gay Pride.

I felt terrible thinking I had underestimated Ricky and that the Christians knew him better than I did. Never had I imagined a Ricky Martin concert would be worthy of warnings of a burning Sodom and Gomorra. The Christians did. And they were right.

Ricky’s MAS tour delivered on each letter of its acronym. He brought the música, he gave the alma, and baby, he delivered on the sexo.

I realize this is sacrilegious, but Ricky’s concert was gayer than any of the seven Juan Gabriel concerts I’ve been to. Yes, Juanga prances about, says things like “Si me caigo me cogen,” and has grown mustache-sporting men crying like Sanjaya’s preteen fan on American Idol. However, for all of Juan Gabriel’s beautiful femme fierceness and the lovemaking that goes on between him and his audience, it all remains masked under the clout of the unspeakable.

Ricky, on the other hand, left me speechless when he held one of his male dancer’s head as the dancer slid his hands down Ricky’s thighs. I’ve been gay long enough to know, that there is a gay move. And he didn’t stop there. The electrifying erotically sensual bi-gendered orgy-like performance that took place on a long sofa while he sang “I Am,” was enough to have the gays fanning ourselves and clutching our pearls (pay attention at 0:24 and on):

Still, for those who thought they had room to dismiss the (not-so)subtle sensual man-on-man moments in the concert, Ricky made the queerness explicit. In what reminded me of Madonna’s “Confessions” moment in the Confessions Tour, one of Ricky’s dancers performed solo as his coming out experience was narrated overhead. Beginning with the struggles of growing up with a father who insisted he learn to box and arriving with his libratory moment of discovering his love for dance and his revelation as a gay man. The screaming of the crowd erased all remaining ambiguity: This was a queer Latino concert.

Topping off what was a surprisingly gay and expectedly delicious concert, was Ricky’s encore performance ofLo Mejor de Mi Vida Eres Tú.” The feel-good song that brought us the queer and different-affirming video, was brought to a close by Ricky offering the following words:

“Lo único que necesitamos en este momento son los mismos derechos para todo el mundo. Lo único que queremos es igualdad, ni más ni menos… I’m talking about equality, ladies and gentlemen, not more, not less, just equality.”

Now all you bitter gays who dismissed Ricky Martin’s coming out as inconsequential and cowardly too late, imagine an arena of Latinas and Latinos, many of whom speak Spanish as their primary (perhaps only) language, applauding an openly gay, culturally rooted and historically present artist delivering words that many queer Latino men like myself could never say to our own families.

Early on, I saw Ricky Martin’s coming out as an important opportunity for queer boys in the U.S. and Latino América who, in their isolation, would now have the opportunity to bear witness to a Latin superstar move openly in his public’s eyes as gay. Months after his coming out, I hailed Ricky’s appearance on the front cover of People en Español’s Father’s Day issue as an important historical moment for our communities. With a readership of 6.4 million people, Ricky, with his two children (Valentino and Matteo) in arms, would be on Supermercado stands and coffee tables across the country.

And yet, it took Christian protestors to make me realize that even I, in all my pro-Ricky arguments, had underestimated just how important he has become. I only hope that in the future I am not blindsided by my own limited capacity to imagine what Ricky Martin has in store for the future.

As the poet, Marvin K. White, recently said, “As with Don Lemmon, Ricky Martin is one of the few who came out with his ethnicity intact.”

Por esto, y tanto más, Ricky, gracias.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Help a filmmaker, pt. 2: Michele Josue's "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine"

  • Kickstarter page here.
  • Twitter page here.
This October will mark the thirteenth year anniversary since the horrific murder of Matthew Wayne Shepard.

The 21-year old University of Wyoming student met two men at a bar on the very early morning of October 7th, 1998, and accepted their invitation for a ride home.  Instead, he was driven to a rural area near Laramie where the men pistol-whipped him, beat him up, tortured him, robbed him and drove his unconscious body to a rural road where they tied him up to a fence.  He was found 18 hours later by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Shepard would never regain consciousness again but remained alive until he passed away from his head injuries on October 12th.

Shepard's murder drew national outrage. On October 18th I participated in a huge vigil and rally down 5th Avenue in Manhattan in which thousands of people took to the street demanding justice.

Matthew Shepard's murder, of course, would become an emblematic moment in the history of the LGBT rights movement of the United States.  It would also resonate with popular mainstream culture as demonstrated by a fictionalized TV movie that ran on NBC in 2002 ("The Mathew Shepard Story"), a 2002 HBO dramatized film based on interviews with Laramie residents which would become a play which is staged to this day ("The Laramie Project") and a 2004 documentary that took a look at the impact of the crime on Laramie residents five years after the murder ("Laramie, Inside Out").

Now comes "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine", a documentary that promises to give a more intimate and personal look at who Matthew Shepard was before his murder - through the eyes of his friends. That is, if enough money is raised for the director to complete the documentary.

From the press materials:
Los Angeles, April 26, 2011- Independent filmmaker Michele Josue announced the launch of a 44-day Kickstarter fundraising campaign, "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine" on Friday, April 15th. Josue is looking to raise $50,000 to complete a feature documentary of her close childhood friend Matthew Shepard, who was brutally murdered in an anti-gay crime in October 1998.
Funds raised by this campaign will enable Josue and her team to complete a second filming, which will include footage essential to Matthew’s story. Her plans for the filming include a trip across North America as well as Lugano, Switzerland, where Shepard attended high school and became friends with Ms. Josue.
Filming for the bulk of the project began last fall and includes extensive interviews with a number of individuals who were intimately affected by the tragedy. Among them were Shepard's mother, Judy Shepard, a prominent gay rights activist, and his father, Dennis Shepard. Other interviewees included law enforcement and health care professionals who played essential roles in his case. Through the honest and intimate recollections of his family and those who were personally affected by his death, the film seeks to tell the story of the Matthew the world hardly knows and to make sense out of a senseless tragedy.
Of the $50,000 hoped to be raised by May 29th, 2011, 24 people have already pledged $31,660.  You can help Michele Josue reach her goal by donating as little as $10 over at the project's Kickstarter page.  The film counts with the support of many of Matthew Shepard's friends and is prominently featured on the webpage for The Matthew Shepard Foundation.  The Foundation, of course, was launched by Shepard's incredible parents Judy and Dennis Shepard

Here is a video pitch from Michele Josue herself.  It includes an incredibly moving film teaser for the movie that goes to show how amazing this project is and why it's so worth supporting with a donation.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Help a filmmaker, pt. 1: Aurora Guerrero's "Mosquita y Mari"

This week I am highlighting the work of two filmmakers who are raising funds to be able to complete their films this summer.

The first film is "Mosquita y Mari" - the debut directorial feature by Chicana filmmaker Aurora Guerrero who has previously worked in productions such as "Real Women Have Curves" (2002) and "La Mission" (2009).

From the film's description:
Sundance Native/Indigenous Lab film, Mosquita y Mari, tells a tender story of Yolanda Olveros and her new neighbor Mari Rodriguez. A sheltered, only‐child, Yolanda's sole concern is securing her collegebound future. With sudden changes in her family, street‐wise Mari, the eldest of the three, hustles to keep her siblings and her mother above water. Set in Huntington Park, one of the most vibrant immigrant Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Mosquita y Mari is a coming of age story of two 15‐year‐old Chicanas who discover their desire for one another.

Mosquita y Mari comes at a critical time for both Latinos and LGBTQ youth. LGBTQ youth face unprecedented challenges that include increased violence and bullying while Latino communities have been fighting against anti‐immigrant bills that target families like those represented in Mosquita y Mari. This film provides a platform to elevate community stories.
As for filmmaker Aurora Guerrero and her interest in bringing this particular story to the screen:
My first inspirations were writers. Women of color feminist writers like Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzladúa, Chrystos, June Jordan and Angela Davis. When I discovered their brave works as a freshman in college, a fierce creative seed was planted in me. It was a calling I had the moment I was stripped naked by their words. I wanted to write with that same naked honesty. It was a critical juncture in my life and it spurred me to become the filmmaker I am now. All the work I set forth is my naked truth as a woman, a Xicana, an indigenous Mexican, a daughter of immigrants, a tough urban girl who never acquiesced to societal norms.
And on the inspiration behind her script:
My own adolescence. I had a few same‐sex friendships throughout my youth that were very layered. How can you not have a whirlwind of feelings for your closest friends? You pick them because they’re cool, they’re nice, they’re different from the rest, they look out for you, they listen to you, and they take care of you. There’s bound to be chemistry there. Feelings of love and desire are bound to develop. It can be such a loaded relationship because we learn not to cross that line and so a lot of this tension goes unspoken.
These relationships taught me a lot about myself because it’s such a vulnerable space. I learned to feel love for the first time. I also felt hurt too. But most importantly I think as young people we still have the power to forgive.
I also grew up a daughter to working‐class, immigrant parents. I think there’s an added pressure to live up to the expectations our parents have of us because we see at a young age how much they’ve sacrificed for our futures. They’ve given up their homelands, their extended families, a different way of life. They’re here working long hours in exploitative jobs where they’re targeted for being immigrant and Latino. This wears on the spirit. It changes you. So when I look at my parents I see their journey to the U.S. has come at a huge cost. How do I ignore that? Children of immigrants often feel like we have to deliver on the American Dream so our parents’ actions aren’t in vain.
So for me things like exploring love, seeing the world or simply “normal” teenage things became obstacles to my goal of going to college and “making it.” Mosquita y Mari is my reflection on these elements coming to a collision in the life of two 15‐year‐old Chicanas.
Yeah, yeah, you are telling yourself, it sounds GREAT but how does it look and how can I help? Well, lucky for you, the filmmaker has set up an impressive netroots campaign and is using a Kickstarter page to raise funds.  You can check out the page and pledge as little as $1 dollar.  The goal is to raise $80,000 before May 26th, 2011. I have included a video pitch below.

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the filmmaker or the film, please check these links out:
  • "Mosquita y Mari" website here
  • "Mosquita y Mari" Facebook page here
  • "Mosquita y Mari" Twitter account here
  • "Mosquita y Mari" YouTube account here
  • "Mosquita y Mari" Flickr account here
Here is the video: