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Homecoming Queers

Homecoming Queers: Desire and Difference in Chicana Latina Cultural Production

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 242
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  • Book Info
    Homecoming Queers
    Book Description:

    Homecoming Queers provides a critical discussion of the multiple strategies used by queer Latina authors and artists in the United States to challenge silence and invisibility within mainstream media, literary canons, and theater spaces. Marivel T. Danielson's analysis reveals the extensive legacy of these cultural artists, including novelists, filmmakers, students and activists, comedians, performers, and playwrights. By clearly discussing the complexities and universalities of ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, and class intersections between queer Chicana and U.S. Latinas, Danielson explores the multiple ways identity shapes and shades creative expression. Weaknesses and gaps are revealed in the treatment of difference as a whole, within dominant and marginalized communities.

    Spanning multiple genres and forms, and including scholarly theory alongside performances, films, narratives, and testimonials, Homecoming Queers leads readers along a crucial path toward understanding and overcoming the silences that previously existed across these fields.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4837-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Queering Home: Desire Meets Theory Meets Art
    (pp. 1-9)

    In “The Homeland, Aztlán/El otro México,” Gloria Anzaldúa maps the physical and emotionally treacherous terrain covered by undocumented women in the U.S.–Mexico border region. Vulnerability to violence, discrimination, and harsh environmental conditions marks a precarious state that Anzaldúa visualizes as a “thin edge of barbwire.” Caught between sides and defined by the spaces in between, this politically poetic metaphor lends itself well to the experience of queer Chicanas and Latinas who cross the confines of gender, ethnicity, race, class, and sexuality as they move between and among communities and forge new identities living outside the lines. Anzaldúa’s embodied borderlands...

  5. 2 Speaking Selves: Language and Identity in Transition
    (pp. 10-40)

    I begin with a word, as all books must. A label for him, a title for her. Which X marks your spot? This book’s title alone contains three labels: queer, Chicana, and Latina. Each word maps a clear path toward gender, sexuality, and/or ethnic identity. Language necessitates order. Yet human experience and subjectivity are inherently disorderly. Consequently, the notion of linguistic representation suggests an oxymoronic state—an organized mess, fixed movement, controlled chaos. Subaltern and feminist critics have also identified language as an instrument utilized by dominant powers to orchestrate past and present subjugation of women and people of color....

  6. 3 Moving Violations: Performing the Limits of Representation in Marga Gomezʹs jaywalker
    (pp. 41-67)

    The sounds of screeching tires and crunching metal open Marga Gomez’sjaywalker,¹ where a wide-eyed Gomez rushes out into the spotlight on a stage with only a small pile of automobile tires set to one side. Dressed in a short black lace slip, bright orange traffic safety vest, and precariously high platform sneakers, the title character “Jaywalker” enlightens audience members on the intricacies of Los Angeles pedestrian life. Debuting at New York City’s P.S. 122 in 1999, Gomez’s one-woman showjaywalkertakes the audience on an hour-and-a-half-long journey detailing the protagonist’s struggle in the margins of multiple communities: a Latina...

  7. 4 The Birdy and the Bees: Queer Chicana Girlhood in Carla Trujilloʹs What Night Brings
    (pp. 68-91)

    Marci is a girl who wants to be a boy so she can be in love with a girl. She introduces her plight with the above declaration while nightly imploring to God, Baby Jesus, and the Virgin Mary to grant her wish of bodily conversion. At different points along the narrative road that Carla Trujillo paves in her 2003 debut novel,What Night Brings, the book’s eleven-year-old Chicana protagonist Marci Cruz constructs a positionality that enables her to shift from an initial identification as transgendered to a full acceptance of both her female body and her unnamed homoerotic attractions. Despite...

  8. 5 Complicating Community: Terri de la Peña, Cristina Serna, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Ela Troyano, and Carmelita Tropicana
    (pp. 92-120)

    Each of the narrative works in this chapter map out the insufficiencies of dominant spaces while simultaneously envisioning organic home spaces where queer Latina bodies, voices, and discourses are not marginal but central. When considered together, these characterizations of queer Latina desire posit a politics of home constituted of three distinct but interlocking modes of representation, which I classify as “coming home,” “being home,” and “complicating home.” I have found no need for or value in imposing a chronological or hierarchical order to this list, since none appears to exist within the texts. Instead, each mode offers a set of...

  9. 6 Performing the Erotics of Home: Monica Palacios, Marga Gomez, and Carmelita Tropicana
    (pp. 121-143)

    Performative forms of expression not only allow for an additional element of corporeality so important to marginalized subjects combating silence and erasure, but also emphasize the performative nature of the representational process. By breaking free from the constraints of the page and the written word, artists “become”/embodytheir texts, circumventing—at least in part—the limitations of language. In the world of performance we no longer read words. We read the performer, her expression, her gestures, her orality, and her silence. Language is a tool for the communication of ideas, but it ceases to be the sole or principle communicative...

  10. 7 Dancing with Devils: Gendered Violence in Novels by Emma Pérez and Achy Obejas
    (pp. 144-167)

    Transitioning away from the model of sameness elucidated in the previous chapters, the narrative works of Emma Pérez and Achy Obejas violently push past the familiarity of similitude and into a dynamics of difference wherein desire is used to destabilize binaries and call into question rigid divisions of gender, sex, and sexuality. These destabilizations of seemingly fixed categories of being and seeing define the third representational mode of homemaking that I label “complicating home.” In this category I identify home spaces of similar fluidity as the previous two modes, coming home and being home; however, an erotics of similitude is...

  11. 8 Our Art Is Our Weapon: Women of Color Transforming Academia
    (pp. 168-190)

    Ela Troyano’s 1994 short filmCarmelita Tropicana: Your Kunst Is Your Waffenstars Troyano’s sister Alina as her performative alter-ego, Carmelita Tropicana, a radical Cuban-born, New York City, Lower East Side–dwelling, lesbian performance artist with a penchant for colorful sequined costumes, platform sneakers, and fruit as a fashion accessory. In the film’s opening scene, Carmelita prides herself on being “good with the tongue.” The film’s title,Your Kunst Is Your Waffen(Your Art Is Your Weapon), is a mixture of German and English that illustrates her linguistic talents and artistic ideology while simultaneously (and certainly not inadvertently) sounding a...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 191-200)
    (pp. 201-210)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 211-220)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 221-221)