feature image by Raquel Breternitz
Welcome to Autostraddle’s queer Latinx essay series: Our Pulse. 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.
Our love can be beautiful and dramatic like telenovelas. Our love is inherently sacred by unlearning the toxic ideas of who and what is desirable, though sometimes internalized oppression can still plague our relationships. It wouldn’t be authentic to portray the glory of our love without the bitter tastes as well.
Latinx love in times of crises and revolution is resistance. I love that our love grows with pain into beauty, like thorny rositas in their natural state.
Here’s a bouquet of love notes to old and recent loves.
It was my first quarter at university. I found you on Grindr, or maybe Adam4Adam. I’m pretty sure I subtly begged you to fuck me, and I’m pretty sure I believed you would be nicer than you were. I craved your attractive, beautiful, round face. Validation that an ugly creature like me could be adored by something as precious as you. Your brown dominated mine. Not a piece of you felt or sounded like home. I found solace when you left and I began to love myself, and you, for being hurt in different ways that led us to this regretful moment. I hope we find better love and lovers.
You were the first organizer to leave class with me because I was having a panic attack. You came to my dorm and held me in my twin bed because I asked for what I needed. You saw something hurt and something beautiful in me. I saw your hands and spirit as healing ancestral magic. Memory that somewhere along our lineages, we loved each other. You had familiar full lips, that brown pink that is nameless in color but unforgettable in sight. Long dark hair, dark eyes, face kissed by beauty marks. Our bodies similar in texture, smooth in many places, soft fur in the few crevices it did grow. How I loved touching you, being enveloped in home. Sleeping with you felt like being baked into fresh pan dulce. Coming with you felt like abuelita chocolate dripping down my body, pouring into your mouth. How delicious those two short weeks were. How savory I hold this memory.
Something about your ugly brought out my own. We summoned our demons and watched them play with each other, sinking venomous fangs into each other’s flesh to see who would paralyze first and quit this evil. Neither of us did. We were uglies who desired white beauties. Settled for each other, upset with each other, hurting each other, using each other. What did we walk away with? The scum of the river, foggy car windows, poems we didn’t read to each other, tasteless jokes, clothes drenched in pool water, and a sour taste of cum.
During my second puberty, dating you felt like high school. Wrapping blunts in your race car, listening to The Weeknd, playing Five Nights at Freddy’s, making out, you always inching your hand up my skirt to feel my throbbing dick, me always grabbing you by the back of the neck for deeper kisses. Interrupted by your parent’s phone calls, hearing you tell them “Estoy con mi amiga” at night but becoming amigo by early morning. The times you called me princesa, chula, then slipped up with the occasional chulo. It hurt on a children-and-grandchildren-of-Mexican-immigrants level, where that -o and -a are significantly more affirming than English can be. Yet, I appreciate you for those late nights you brought me In-N-Out and demonstrated your DJ skills. I love that we shared intimacy in brown Caló queer languages, that you made me feel young and silly, that you grew into someone better than who you were before me.
Girl, you make me hate my memory loss when it often serves as a protective shield. There’s nothing more I want to remember than every moment and sensation we shared. Our grinding hips at Queer Cumbia, feeling your drunken sweat drip onto my freshly implanted tits. The way we sloppily made out and smeared our red and burgundy lips all over our mouths, noses, forehead, and neck. Maneuvering into the club bathroom, laughing as we used a half dozen wet paper towels to clean ourselves, taking selfies for the #tbt, for the story, for the hotness of Mexi trans girls sexually into one another. Grinding and making out with your partner, sandwiching and being sandwiched between Black and brown sexual intensity with anticipating fingers, tongues, hips, and erections. All of us in bed together, whispering, sharing stories, boundaries, and STI & HIV status. Fucking so good without any of the penetration, feeling in love with my body in all its hairy trans glory, in love with all the smells of lust and spit, hearing mami and baby and more and fuck yes and please and stop and that was so fucking good. ‘Cuz it was, really fucking good.
Our love was the definition of what-the-f*ck, but you’re just a Scorpio and I’m just an empath who can feel right through your bullshit. I know you love me, and I wasn’t afraid to tell you that I wanted to build love with you. There was room for our learning, together. Yet I was caught in that bind as I am with most men, knowing your good, gentle-natured heart is deterred by machismo bullshit of what you should do. To be fair, you wanted something slow and I wanted something sure. I wasn’t sure cis people could genuinely love me like they would a cis woman, though now I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if I know that answer. Love is flexible and ever-changing, like us, from romance to hot sex to indifference. I am grateful for what we learned, knowing that I won’t be repeating you or relationships like ours.
I couldn’t date you three years ago when I didn’t love trans women, but I gave it a shot this year when I knew I could. Being with you was a reprieve from the onslaught of internalized baggage I learned to carry. Being with you taught me to be present in my body, how to cherish silence as bonding when the person you’re with is breathing in sync with you. I won’t forget you icing my sore chichis or rubbing that calendula and beeswax salve onto my incision scars, then offering to give me head when I couldn’t even sit up on my own. How you treated me and my body as a blessing, unveiling mirrors that allowed me to love myself deeper. You healed me in body and love, though in our relationship I mostly took from you, felt like I was fracking your resources until I depleted us. I broke up with you because I wasn’t ready to grow. Now in our friendship, I want to give you all the love I couldn’t when romance blurred me from seeing what a true lover you were.