Batalla en el Cielo

 

Did you just make a weird face after seeing this picture? Did you have to look away? Are you disturbed and wondering why I would post a picture like this on a Latin@ counterculture blog? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you probably feel uncomfortable seeing an attractive female body and an overweight male body together. Why do we feel uncomfortable seeing an overweight male body lying in the bed holding hands with a good looking female body?  It seems to me that the media plays a big role in this.

Batalla en el Cielo is a Mexican movie directed by Carlos Reygadas. It contains lots of graphic sex scenes and although the movie contains underlying metaphoric representations about the nation of Mexico, the sex scenes are the ones that are given more attention.  Sex scenes shown in this movie consist of an attractive young woman going down on an overweight, middle-aged man, as well as sex between this same man and his even more obese wife.  Personally speaking I had to stop the movie during the three minutes scene where the young woman goes down on the overweight man, Marcos. At first I thought, I couldn’t watch it because there’s a girl giving a blowjob to a man but I realized that wasn’t the case. Like I told my Body Fictions class while discussing this movie, the majority of us have seen pornography at least once in our lives. Some people use it to get off while others are not really interested in it. Yet it doesn’t necessarily bother you (or bother you as much) because they show bodies that have been accepted by the media. Yet if we watched an overweight or obese person having sex with someone it’s very uncomfortable.

The reason I chose to talk about this for this blog is because I think this movie is queer. It has been criticized for showing so much nudity especially of an overweight man. What’s even more different is that the main character for this movie isn’t a real actor. He is actually the driver for Reygadas’ father. I find it very interesting that a Mexican director would make such a movie like this and air it in Mexico. Showing sex scenes in a movie is one thing, but having an overweight person having sex is another. While at first I thought this was weird, after watching the whole movie and after learning that it’s ok to accept things that aren’t the norm, to be queer, I’ve grown to appreciate these scenes. This was a bold move Reygadas did and it was good because people need to be exposed to things that the media say is disturbing. If we are comfortable watching people have intimate scenes in the movies than that means any adult of any size with consent should be able to be part of these scenes without being judged.

What’s also interesting is that while Reygadas is using a stereotypical Latina body for some of his sex scenes he also made it hard for the viewer to distinguish the gender of Marcos’ wife when they were having sex. It would be interesting to analyze this more and figure out the meaning behind these scenes. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a movie with such graphic sex scenes and having overweight people having sex as well. I think it’s great that the public can see this side of sex.

If you’re interested in watching this, it’s on Netflix and here’s the trailer (it has English subtitles!):

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To reject or to negar: Latino and Queer identity issues

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.)