Posts Tagged ‘homophobia


It’s Not All About the Music

Recently, two-hit wonder and famed hip shaker Ricky Martin announced the least surprising celebrity news since we found out about Charlie Sheen and all those hookers. The man confirmed, of course, that he is gay.

Martin’s announcement, as anticlimactic as it was, still upset those Americans who believe that even whispering the word “homosexual” will cause their marriages to implode and their children to start cross-dressing. But most people accepted it with a shrug.

Even the Hispanic community, more or less, refrained from calling for Martin’s head. However, it seems to me that this has less to do with increased tolerance for gay Latinos than it does with the fact that Martin’s star has dimmed and, as I stated, we all kind of knew the guy’s status in the first place.

Just about every culture has a powerful strain of homophobia. Well, maybe the British don’t – in fact, I think a minimal amount of homosexual experimentation is actually required there. But just about everybody else has issues with gays.

Still, Latino culture, as I’ve written before, has a particularly virulent strain of hatred for homosexuality. It’s the double whammy of fervent Catholicism and traditional images of machismo.

In the neighborhood where I grew up, “maricon” was never said lightly. It meant somebody, either the taunter or the object of the accusation, was going to get his ass kicked.

You might say, “Hey Fanatic, that was a long time ago. Younger Latinos have dropped the homophobia that plagued you aging Gen Xers and sad Baby Boomers.”

It’s a valid point, and I agree that the older generation is more to blame for spewing hatred. As if to verify this, mere days before Martin publically waved the rainbow flag, the rancheras singer Paquita la del Barrio let us know that older Hispanics may never join the twenty-first century.

The singer, a Mexican woman in her sixties, said, “I’d rather see a kid die” than allow him to be adopted by gay parents. For emphasis, she added that it was better for a child to die alone in the streets than to be “adopted by them.”

Now, I admit that I had never heard of this woman. I’ll add that I believe ranchera music – along with polka and Celine Dion’s greatest hits – will be the tunes that blare over Satan’s Army as it materializes for Armageddon.

Regardless, it’s telling that Paquita la del Barrio (who has a large American fan base, by the way) felt not the slightest shame in making her statements. She doesn’t see her viewpoint as remotely unreasonable, and she knows that plenty of her fans will agree with her. It’s a sad commentary on older Latinos.

Perhaps Paquita la del Barrio will get her comeuppance via a public backlash or a karmic twist of fate. Or maybe there will be no fallout over her unrepentant homophobia. At the very least, however, the woman has completely blown her chance to sing a duet with Ricky Martin.


Can a Latino “Sex in the City” Character Be Far Behind?

I’m still not back to a 100% focus on the blog… actually, I doubt I ever had that level of commitment. But you get my point. I’m coming out of mega-distraction mode now that our move to California is complete and the last box has been unpacked. All I need to do now is address that pesky question of how I’m going to bring in money…

Don’t worry, I’m not turning this into one of those pathetic “please support my blog” pledge drives where I ask for donations. But I am going to cop out on the updates a few more times and issue short posts about news items until I can devote proper energy to being insightful, or least fanatical.

So that’s why I’m just going to pass along this information, courtesy of CNN: “Openly gay Latino public figures… are rare.”

Yes, that’s pretty fast-breaking stuff. To be fair, the gist of CNN’s article is that the virulent homophobia prevalent in Hispanic culture may be dying out.

I wrote about this a few months ago, when Proposition 8 passed here in California. As I pointed out then, much of the support for denying gays their basic civil rights came from Latinos. That’s because homosexuality doesn’t fit easily within a Catholic-dominated culture that invented machismo.

Still, gay Hispanics have always seemed to find some way to subtly express themselves:

Gay Latinos

In any case, CNN claims that straight Latinos are finally catching on and becoming ever so tolerant. The article points out that “El Diario La Prensa, one of the oldest and largest Spanish-language newspapers in the U.S., recently endorsed the rights of same-sex couples to marry.” And it goes on to say that “while harassment in schools for Latino gay students remains high… these students have more support than in past generations.”

So maybe someday it won’t just be white, upper-class teens with hip parents who get to come out. Maybe the tortured, conflicted Pedros of America will finally be able to explain to their parents why they’d rather design a spring ensemble than work on the low-rider.

Of course, the CNN article loses credibility for me because they laud Perez Hilton as a role model. I mean, what could be more ridiculous that praising a blogger?


The Rebuttal

One of my recent pieces (“Muy Fabuloso”) also appeared on the Huffington Post last week. The post was about homophobia in Latino culture. On the Huffington site, I received numerous comments.

Many were supportive. Several were insightful and thought-provoking. Others were diatribes. But as usual, what I focused on were the bitchy ones.

I heard that I was fanning the flames to turn this into a racial issue. I was accused of saying all Hispanics were Catholic and all Catholics were homophobes (could someone Venn diagram this for me?). I found out that I was “scapegoating Latinos” and “pitting minority groups against one another.” I discovered that I was spreading “anti-religious heterophobia,” which I’m pretty sure is a brand-new term (and concept). Finally, I learned that I simply “don’t understand the dynamics” of California, which is hilarious considering that I lived in the heart of Los Angeles for half a decade.

But my point wasn’t about California. It wasn’t about Catholic dogma. It wasn’t about Hispanics and blacks and gays all fighting it out, like we’re fireflies shook up in a jar. It wasn’t even about Proposition 8.

It was about homophobia in Hispanic culture.

As I said in my response on the Huffington Post, Hispanic culture has a powerful one-two punch in traditional machismo and religious upbringing that makes homophobia tough to eradicate.

I stand by that.

Again, using Proposition 8 as a rough gauge, we see that more Latinos supported rescinding gay rights than did the general population (53% versus 52%) The fact that it was close diminishes in comfort when one sees that an actual minority of white and Asian voters (49% of each) supported the proposition, meaning that only blacks were more likely to vote yes on this.

Add to this the fact that Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Obama (Asian voters were less enthusiastic, and whites were more likely to pick McCain), and we see that it is not a powerful strain of social conservatism that drove the vote. Hispanics are more likely to agree with Democratic or even liberal ideas. So clearly, there is something in the culture specifically about gays that many Latinos don’t like.

The glimmer of hope, as some commentators pointed out, is that younger Hispanics are rejecting the gay-bashing of their elders. As such, they mirror the general population, providing further proof that assimilation is taking place, despite what so many conservatives insist (but that’s another topic).

Still, the feedback has prompted me to emphasize once more what I’m trying to say with this blog. My goal has been to praise and celebrate a culture that is largely ignored (except during election season) by mainstream America. However, my additional goal is to point out the flaws in this culture in the hopes that they will be rectified.

I may not always be successful, but I will continue to strive for that balance between lifting up and tearing down.

August 2019
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