Amor Para Todos
UCLA's Otro Corazon was a recognition, validation and celebration of queer existence
Carmen 'Xicanita' I?iguez
Queer Chicana/o artists, writers, performers, and critics came together for an unforgettable celebration of love, identity, and sexuality in honor of San Valentin earlier this year.
Published on LatinoLA: April 19, 2001
Otro Corazon: Queering the Art of Aztlan was the brainchild of Dr. Alicia Gaspar de Alba, professor and director of UCLA's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Studies Program. Otro Corazon was a recognition, validation and celebration of queer existence and love within the often-homophobic Chicana/o community.
Some of the most outstanding and well known artists from the Chicana/o queer community were present to illuminate the participants at the symposium held on the UCLA campus.
Artists Alma Lopez, Celia Herrera Rodriguez, David Zamoras Casas, along with critics Catriona Esquivel, Luz Calvo, and Alicia Arrizon, joined poets, writers and playwrites Francisco Alarcon, Emma Perez, Terri de la Pe?a, Ricardo Bracho, Luis Alfaro, and Cherrie Moraga (pictured) in sharing their individual perspectives on loving and living queer.
The bienvenida for the symposium began with a night of sensuous poes?a and readings by Moraga, Perez, Gaspar de Alba, and Wilmas' own, Alarcon. In the standing-room only reception at SPARC, the vibe was pure love and positive energy. Those who arrived on Chicano Time were still able to enjoy the readings from a nearby room where a TV monitor was set up at the last minute to accommodate the large numbers who attended.
The next day, arriving just in time for the Third Roundtable, I walked in and immediately felt the same positive vibe that emanated the night before at the welcome. It was very exciting to be in the presence of so much Raza from on and off campus. Most thrilling for me was the opportunity to see and hear Cherrie Moraga speak about her "Xicanadykeart". Her approachability and down-to-earth attitude amazed me and gave me a continued reason to admire her work.
"Get a room full of queers and there is always drama," statedmy femme lesbian friend, half jokingly . Not a joke though. This event was no exception. Surprise guest, visual artist Gronk dropped la bomba on unsuspecting participants by airing very old and dirty laundry between him and Richard Montoya of Culture Clash fame. Gronk played an answering machine recording of what mounted to gay-bashing comments clearly made by a very angry Montoya.
At a performance shortly after the Gronk bomb, confronted by very heartbroken and disappointed fans, Montoya did not deny the comments and apologized to fans and the queer community. Montoya assured all that the comments made over six years ago do not reflect his views of the queer community.
"I want us to remain marginalized," said Moraga, in response to the negativity that was seeping in and was threatening to sour the very positive ambiance in the room.
To remain marginalized indicates that we are very much aware and in tune to the suffering and oppression of others, that as an oppressed community we are conscious enough to know that our liberation as a people of color is tied to the liberation of other people of color, of women, and of our queer community. It means to be conscious enough to realize that a homophobic reality must be countered with love, education and with dialogue.
To top the night off, Otro Corazon organizers and participants where blown away by the performances of Monica Palacios and Gregory Ramos. But, sin duda, the night was stolen by the extremely chistosa performance artist and theater director Adelina Anthony. Her performance, Becoming a Tortillera 101 for Xicanas, complete with flour tortillas and soft mantequilla, had the entire audience a carcajadas and tears from the unstoppable laughter. Anthony broke tortillerismo (lesbian lovemaking) down graphically and symbolically.
Speaking with Gaspar de Alba a few days ago, she was very disappointed at the limited amount of coverage this historical event had been given, especially within the faculty and the campus. "Queer visibility," la profe said, "is important."
Indeed, it is visibility that will open up closed minds and hearts to dialogue and acceptance.
And really, what more could we ask for?
Carmen 'Xicanita' I?iguez:
Carmen 'Xicanita' I?iguez in on a search to find her inner voice and balance academic life with community activism.