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.
I got to have a conversation with a handsome, married Italian couple about what aspects of intimacy we place value on and how there’s nothing stopping you from redefining what that looks like for you and your partner. It was a lovely and thoughtful discussion. And then, of course, we gave each other head.
My diploma was initially denied due to incomplete coursework. Depression halted my final senior paper, and almost got the best of me completely. Over those four collegiate years I had decided to drop out twice but was talked out of it each time by my father. The “model minority” isn’t just about STEM; it’s an idea about esteem and excellence.