I’m proud to be a Latina and sometimes I just want to shout it from the rooftops. My culture, my food, my people, our inside jokes, our parties, our families, our histories — all make me smile so much and brings joy to my life. When it comes to queer Latinxs, my heart just bursts with so much love for my hermanxs. I want to share that love with y’all, so I gathered up some writers to bring you an essay series that I think you’ll enjoy!
But first, here’s some history and context. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in the United States. It started off as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. The date September 15 was chosen because that’s when five Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) gained their independence. Mexico and Chile’s independence days are on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Many argue that Hispanic Heritage Month centers on Spanish colonizers when the purpose of the month is to celebrate people with histories in Latin America who became free from Spanish rule.
The word “Hispanic” refers to people of Spanish-speaking origin, which includes Spain and does not include Brazil because they speak Portuguese. “Latino” refers to people of Latin American origin and excludes their European colonizers. Both these terms don’t accurately reflect the racial diversity and complex histories of people with Latin American origins because we have ancestry of indigenous people, European colonizers, African people and others who immigrated to Latin America. Latinxs are so varied and cool and identify in a bunch of different ways because of our different experiences and histories! Now with that in mind, I’m using the word Latinx for our purposes here because the word doesn’t associate with white people and I want to uplift voices that are underrepresented in the United States.
Welcome to Autostraddle’s Latinx Essay Series: Our Pulse
For queer Latinxs, the Orlando shooting shook our community to the very core and left us in mourning and in rage, but it also made us love each other harder and stronger. Through this shared heartbreak, the Pulse shooting quickly became a watershed moment for queer Latinx solidarity and brought us closer. At this moment in time, it seems queer Latinx experiences have been defined by Orlando in the media. I want to push beyond this narrative while still honoring the tragedy. I want the world to know that even though this tragedy hurt us all, we contain multitudes and live brilliant lives beyond this pain. In honor of celebrating Latinxs during Hispanic Heritage Month, Autostraddle curated a collection of essays by lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans Latina and Latinx writers to showcase our experiences, our pulse.
For the next few weeks, look out for essays about interracial dating, love and sex, navigating identity as a transracial adoptee, growing up with tragedy, immigrant parents, organizing LGBT people along the border in South Texas, and more.
The beautiful header image – with Latinx food staples, El Pato and Goya cans, growing flowers arranged in the colors of the LGBTQ flag – was illustrated by queer Chicana artivist Angélica Becerra. You might have seen her illustrations of badass women on Instagram or Tumblr. She paints portraits of fierce women she didn’t grow up hearing about, like Sandra Cisneros, bell hooks and Toni Morrison.
“Most of my portraits begin with research, learning about the activist I’m painting influences which colors I choose. Then, I sketch and paint a watercolor portrait, scan it and add a quote that I feel best represents their vision of social justice. I wholeheartedly believe in my work as a healing salve and self-care practice, as well as a way to preserve a queer activist politics alive.”
I hope you enjoy the series as much as I enjoyed putting it together! Read the series here.