A friend of mine thought it was time for me to watch my first lesbian movie. What better movie than Bound, a movie about a queer woman who is dating a man in the mob but has a love affair with her stereotypical lesbian neighbor. While it had some pretty intense sex scenes, it didn’t concentrate on the subject of a queer relationship. This movie though, made me and a group of friends try to name mainstream queer movies that had Latinas, or in that matter any woman of color in it. I think they only named one or two.
This made me want to explore more on the internet. Are there Spanish songs out there that talk about queer relationships? Fortunately I did find a song ( lucky for us it came with a pretty decent English translation and a video of the L word).
Interestingly enough this song was written by Mecano, a Spanish pop band during a countercultural movement that took place in Spain in the 1980s (La Movida Madrileña). The song talks about a lesbian relationship, seen through the eyes of an outsider. This was one of the first songs to talk openly about homosexuality. Yet it was most popular in countries like France and Italy. It was certainly popular in Latin America, hitting number one in the top charts in countries like Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua. However these aforementioned countries had Penal codes that stated that homosexuality was wrong. The song and/or its video clip were censured in countries like Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The Catholic Church even tried to excommunicate the individuals of Mecano for talking about a subject that was considered immoral. Yet Mecano publicly stood for what they believed in, that a lesbian relationship is what it is and that’s it.
The point of this song was to eliminate homophobia, especially in Latin America. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for everyone. This was 30 years ago, if this song debuted in present day it wouldn’t have had any problems but many Latinos would still disapprove of it. This is mainly because the Church (Catholic and some protestant denominations) teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Sometimes even having lots of queer friends is looked down upon in Latino families. No quiero juzgar pero, my mother and grandmother feel uneasy every time I mention that I have been hanging out with my friends from rugby outside of practices and games or put up a fight when I told them I was going to Pride last summer (which I ended up not going because it would have been hell in the house if I did). They tell me that they don’t have anything against homosexuals and everyone should do as they please but inside they are afraid that I will become one of ‘them’.
How am I as a Latina living in the United States with a familia that has strong religious values supposed to confront them about this issue? So what if I have a lot of queer friends and so what if I am or am not attracted to females. I can’t even necessarily ‘come out’ and say that I do support LGBT causes without feeling guilty later of letting my family down. Why is that? I struggle every day with this; it is something I’m still trying to figure out for myself.
Anzaldua says that a lesbian of color’s (or anyone who identifies as non-heterosexual) ultimate rebellion is through her sexual behavior. But why do we have to rebel? I don’t want to be one. Yet if I don’t rebel I will just be rejecting myself, but if I do I will be rejecting my culture, my family. She also says
“To avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the culture, push the unacceptable parts into the shadows. Which leaves only one fear – that we will be found out and that the Shadow-Beast will break out of its cage”
If I ever find myself in a Mujer contra Mujer situation, I don’t want to be that woman who says ‘¿que se le va hacer?’ but I still find it hard to let go of my Latina family values. And even if I don’t find myself in that situation I still feel like I’m losing parts of the latinidad that my family has because we have different opinions on queer issues.
This post is filled with a lot of issues, mostly personal and unresolved and others not, but I just want to leave you with a couple of verses from this song:
Y lo que opinen los demas esta demas
Quein detiene palomas al vuelo
Volando a ras del suelo
Mujer contra mujer.
(And other’s opinions don’t count. Who stops doves from flying? Flying over the ground. Woman on woman.)