Written by R. D. Balsa Friday, 09 September 2011 00:00
Who is the Latino gay man? As a person who fits comfortably within this category, I do consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject. As the word 'latino' encompasses many nations and regions, so, too, does the term 'gay latino' encompass a rather interesting amalgamation of qualities and attributes. At the risk of generalizing, allow me to put forth a profile of sorts; a written account of what makes our 'posse' so fascinating to so many.
The Latino gay man is first and foremost: daring and resilient. In fact, not many ethnic groups have had the courage to leave their homelands in a myriad of ways and trek across oceans and/or mountain ranges in search of a better life. Yes, that is a statement indicative of Latinos in general, but ocean waves don't discriminate based on sexual preference and neither do machine gun-totting border patrol personnel.
We are hard working: countless U.S. cities are now dependent on their respective Latino communities (and by extension their gay Latino communities) for their livelihoods and identities.
Sadly, we are politically dormant. The gay landscape is changing at a rapid rate and although the Latino gay community will be drastically affected by these changes (good, bad, or indifferent) our efforts within the movements are insignificant at best.
Despite the occasional familial turbulence, our families remain ground zero, the well from where it all springs. Our mothers are our greatest treasures and ultimately our most meaningful responsibilities. Our fathers (if present) are a toss up: some of us are blessed with supportive, loving fathers who are proud to call us their sons, not just their 'gay sons'. Others have been rejected by our fathers (in what is typically a very loud and profane-filled exchange of words) as worthless and unworthy.
Of course, some of the more common aspects of the Latino gay community remain faithful. We are still the life of the party. We are often better friends to women than women are to themselves. We still dress beyond our means. We still live at home longer than any other social group. We still don't consider it a meal unless we're shoveling mounds of white rice onto a fork with some variation of a fried plantain.
We become more and more Americanized, as future generations of gay Latino men make their mark not only on their communities but on the world at large, full assimilation seems to come at the very expense of those qualities and characteristics that make us unique.
But we must be careful not lose ourselves, to never lose that 'sabor' that allows us to stand out among any and all world citizens as we immerse our lives into this wonderful adoptive country of ours. We must tread lightly between the three worlds we inhabit (Latino, gay, current or future American citizen).
In short, the Latino gay man has a responsibility to not only never forget, but use his inherent gifts and talents as he evolves into 'every-man' (with his wickedly hot boyfriend: every-other-man).