I was rooted in when, and when was the promise of arrival at the place where I might finally be free. Free of what, I was never sure. It was a destination, regardless. Maybe free was the place or thing my great-grandparents sought when they came here. In the 100 years since the Great Migration started, what’s different for Black Americans, if anything at all?
To hold a Two-Spirit family and all the heartache that each of us brings requires patience, compassion, and empathy. Almost like a blood relation family but more because we are dedicated to each other’s recovery by choice. We choose to love each other stronger, to hug tighter, to sit longer with each other’s feelings because no one else will.
My journey would took me to the west coast of Turtle Island, across Europe, India, Nepal, Dubai, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. These lands were beautiful with so many moments that left me speechless. It was an honour to share sacred space with these folx. I listened to the many stories about the impacts of colonialism on their lands and their strength in resilience. These stories sounded all too familiar.
Few people I talked to cared about the blood quantum of potential partners until college. Suddenly, I was surrounded by Indigenous students. Native girls spend their lunches adding up blood quantum fractions, trying to figure out whether any babies will make the requirements for their tribe or their new boyfriend’s tribe. I nickname them the BQMs (Blood Quantum Mechanics).
Losing weight only brought on more pressure to be thin and made me even more insecure about physical appearance. I learned that I wasn’t unhappy with my size, but I was unhappy with the way other queer men treated me because of my size. That inflection of hatred became my truth, a truth I never wanted or needed.
Growing up, the relationship I had with my body was distant because I had to detach to survive. My case of eczema was so rare that the doctors used me as an experiment. I would stare at the ceiling and count the tiles while the doctors talked about me like I wasn’t there. I would resist but ultimately go along with my parents’ wishes even though it meant giving away control.
Smells of fried food and the sounds of el barrio attack the senses because they are overwhelming in their grimy latinidad. Sucias, thus, are Latinx women and femmes that are excessive in their speech, their smells, their look, their overall volume. This Latinx femininity is read as queer because sucias fail to conform to a particular cis, heterosexual, white femininity in their excess.
How do others encourage their children to eat their vegetables and make showers seem like fun; how to teach five-year-olds about consent and bodily autonomy; how to make a little brown child proud of their history and unashamed of their experiences. This past year has assured me of my power to guide my child to find themselves. I do not have all of the answers; but, here we are, existing together, like my mother and I did years ago.
I am my own personal strand of autistic Latinx Trans woman. I am faithful, non-violent, and like to live simply. I don't take up a lot of space and don't ask for much in return but a bit of respect. Yet, that little space I occupy has consistently been threatened or erased by a culture that does not understand me and has no desire to do so, as well as outside forces that want me gone.
I see a lot of my struggles reflected in the Queer Latinx community in the US. Living in a borderline and performing that balancing act between American and Latinx is something I could relate to being Venezuelan and a ‘citizen of the world’. From these communities I gradually learned that there was space for my identities to co-exist without contradicting each other.
I sat on my cousin’s bed that night when she told me we were going out for her best friend’s birthday. It took some serious prodding before she said we were going somewhere called “La Purga.” She explained that the club was for “raros” and that “gente extraña” go there. I asked if she was one of them?
I remember wanting so badly to hangout with the Latinxs, the ones my skin reflected; but, I felt I didn’t belong there because my racial identity was like a dirty, family secret. As a transracial adoptee, I felt cultureless, like I belonged everywhere and nowhere. The feelings of unbelonging were only magnified when I realized I was queer.
How much I embraced “being soft” and not seeing my emotions as a weakness made me wonder why I had never approached this topic before. As a WOC who has always been terrified of being labeled with the “Angry Black Woman” trope, I have always been passive about addressing what I want and need in all aspects of my life.
Queer and trans people of color are no exception to internalizing and perpetuating anti-Blackness, colorism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, fatphobia, and even homophobia. Consequently, we are not free from the biases that construct people who are Black, dark-skinned, trans, women, disabled, and/or fat as intimidating, unapproachable, or undesirable.