Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Entrevista/Interview: Larry La Fountain (iTunes U) (video)

Los invito a que vean esta entrevista en español en la que hablo sobre mi trabajo, Queer Ricans, y la homosexualidad en Puerto Rico. Hago una breve mención de Ricky Martin. ¡Entrevista grabada en enero! (Enlace lleva al iTunes U de la Universidad de Michigan para descargar el video, que es de 29:56 minutos.)

I invite you to see this interview in English in which I talk about my work, Queer Ricans, and homosexuality in Puerto Rico! Very à propos of Ricky Martin! (Free downloadable video on University of Michigan iTunes U, 22:19 minutes).

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
Associate Professor of Latino/Latina Studies, American Culture, and Spanish
Program in American Culture, Latina/o Studies Program, and Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
University of Michigan
3700 Haven Hall (American Culture)
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora (Minnesota, 2009)

Uñas pintadas de azul/Blue Fingernails (Bilingual Press, 2009)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Out at CHM – Queer Latinos: Art and Change


Listen to a fascinating exploration of Chicago’s long standing and diverse queer Latino community. Scholars Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes and Lourdes Torres share their insights on the intersection of art and political change over the last twenty-five years.

Recorded Thursday, March 04, 2010 at Chicago History Museum.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

'Out at CHM' Looks at Queer Latinos

Article published in Windy City Times
by Yasmin Nair
Photos by Tracy Baim

The Chicago History Museum's Out at CHM series hosted its first Latina/o event March 4. Titled "Queer Latinos: Art and Change," the program showcased the work of two researchers, Lourdes Torres and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes who presented on their Chicago-based work in the Latino/a community. They were introduced by Ramon Rivera-Servera, an assistant professor in the department of performance studies at Northwestern University.

Torres is a professor of Latin American and Latino Studies and the director of the Center for Latino Research at DePaul University, and a board member of Amigas Latinas, a local organization for Latina lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning women. Torres' presentation was on Amigas and on its predecessor group, LLENA. She said that the impetus behind her work was to "document the efforts of Latina lesbians to define their identity in public spaces" as they worked to "negotiate national and ethnic identities and the diverse political histories" of members.

LLENA began in 1988 and lasted till 1992. Chicago, in 1980, was not a friendly space for Latina lesbians, who saw a lack of public spaces. In November 1988, more than 30 such lesbians gathered for a meeting to discuss ways to remedy the situation, and this gave birth to Llena. The name was an acronym for "Latina lesbians en nuestro ambiente" or "Latina lesbians in our space." "Llena" in Spanish also means "full." According to one member, LLENA was to convey the sense that the women felt "perfect in our own space [ with ] a sense of completeness." The group met every other Friday at Horizons, now Howard Brown Health Center.

Llena consisted of a mixture of all social classes, including professors and undocumented women, and the ages ranged from their 20s to their 60s. The bilingual meetings were described as chaotic and intense, and lasted as long as four hours. According to members, they always felt unwelcome at Horizons, where the staff were mostly white gay men who made them feel out of place. They were not allowed in if they came early and had to stand waiting outside in the cold. Eventually, José López, executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, offered them that space and Llena moved its meetings there.

The group began putting out a bilingual newsletter, Lesbiana, in 1990. Torres said that its politics fit with the general trend towards a Third World feminist movement. According to Torres, LLENA's politics were coalitional and intersectional; one of its main co-sponsored events was the immensely popular International Women's Day Dance. The group eventually disbanded in 1992, but by then it had made its mark in establishing the need and the hunger for a public space for Latina lesbians, paving the way for Amigas.

By the 1990s, Chicago was a more welcoming place for Latinas and there was a proliferation of organizations and events for women of color. These included Affinity ( for African-American lesbians ) and the WACT ( Women of All Colors Together ) potlucks. Evette Cardona was among the co-founders of the latter, and she would become one of the co-founders of Amigas Latinas in 1995.

Torres pointed out that Amigas, which continues to this day, is unique for being one of the few that has sustained itself for more than a decade where most do not survive beyond two years. The group is currently a non-profit with over 300 members. Among the reasons for its success is that Amigas has become a leading educator and advocate for Latina lesbian issues and is explicit about the fact that Latinas are not a monolithic group; it addresses the needs of youth, older women and families. In that it echoes the words of a LLENA newsletter: "We must work towards an inclusive community as well as a pluralistic feminism."

La Fountain-Stokes, an associate professor of Latina/o studies, American Culture and Spanish at the University of Michigan, spoke about five queer Latina/o artists and writers based in Chicago: writer Achy Obejas, poet Rane Arroyo, director Rose Troche, Teatro Luna co-founder Coya Paz and performance artist Fausto Fernós, of Feast of Fun. La Fountain-Stokes presented biographical sketches all five, showing how each recorded and negotiated complex issues of self and cultural identification as Latina/o in a city that is multiethnic and often strewn with tensions around race and ethnicity. Troche is most famous for her 1994 breakout hit film Go Fish, about a multiethnic group of lesbians living in the then-not-yet-completely gentrified Wicker Park. According to La Fountain-Stokes, Troche made a film that cannot be easily read as Latina unless viewers notice subtle references to her Puerto Rican heritage. He pointed out that most biographies and media pieces on the filmmaker downplay her ethnic identity. Quoting the scholar Lisa Henderson, he said that the film instead portrays a "modest lesbian utopia."

The question-and-answer session evoked praise and additional bits of ongoing Chicago Latina/o history. Cardona added that ALMA (the Association of Latino Men for Action) had been instrumental in helping to form Amigas. She also pointed to the existence of contemporary Latina/o groups like Dulce Palabras, a queer spoken-word ensemble.

La nación en vaivén - libro nuevo de Jorge Duany

(Presionar sobre imagen para ver versión más grande.)

¡Lola von Miramar se complace en anunciar la publicación del libro más reciente de su amigo Jorge Duany! ¡Felicidades, Jorge! La nación en vaivén: identidad, migración y cultura popular en Puerto Rico (San Juan: Ediciones Callejón, 2010) recopila columnas que este antropólogo y profesor de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, recinto de Río Piedras, ha publicado en la prensa puertorriqueña, especialmente en El Nuevo Día.

Yo lo voy a leer.
Yo lo voy a usar.
Yo se lo recomiendo.

Lola von Miramar

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You Belong With Me - Same-sex crush version

¡Lola está contenta con este video! Versión gay de la canción de Taylor Swift "You Belong With Me".

Video original:

¿Qué falta en la versión gay de la Universidad de Rochester? ¡El beso!

Chicago History Museum features Latino Arts & Activism

Article in Gay Chicago Magazine.
Written by Amy Wooten
March 11-17, 2010 issue, Chicago News.
Also available here.

CHICAGO – Those working to highlight the contributions Latinos have made to Chicago’s GLBT community say there is a long way to go before this segment of the community is fully accepted and recognized.

Chicago History Museum’s March 4 OUT at CHM presentation, “Queer Latinos: Art and Change,” explored the contributions made by local Latino activists and artists, from the organizing done by Amigas Latinas to the work created by local authors and podcasters.

Several participants in the evening’s program highlighted the need for the OUT at CHM event. After all, the contributions of queer Latinos are often overlooked. Moderator and Northwestern professor Ramon Rivera-Servera said that the accounts of GLBT history “hardly ever” recognize Latino activism, especially work done in the Midwest.

Presenters Lourdes Torres and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes are at the forefront of documenting Latino GLBT activists and artists.

Torres, a DePaul professor and author, presented her research of two Chicago Latina lesbian organizations, Llena and Amigas Latinas. Torres said her work with Amigas Latinas over the past 10 years inspired her to document that history, especially because many accounts of Chicago’s GLBT history – even recent ones – overlook the work done by Latina lesbians.

Torres explored the history of the now defunct Llena, as well as Amigas Latinas, to discover their work and identify these organizations as an important part of queer history.

During her presentation, Torres explained the organization’s successes and the barriers they faced. For example, Llena, which started in 1988 and disbanded in 1992, started in the ‘80s, when there were no welcoming spaces for Latina lesbians. The group first met at Horizons, now known as Center on Halsted. After some time, the group found a space in their own neighborhood, because “members started to feel uncomfortable at Horizons,” Torres explained. If members showed up early, white, male Horizon employees would force them to wait outside in the cold and were rude to them, she added. Later, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center welcomed Llena. This was an early push for a lesbian presence in a largely heterosexual space. Later efforts included the creation of an annual, inclusive women’s dance.

While Llena eventually disbanded, Amigas Latinas, which began in 1995, built upon Llena’s expansive vision. “It clearly made its mark and paved the way for Amigas Latinas in the mid-‘90s,” Torres said.

With the ’90s came a more welcoming climate. The ’90s saw the birth of several organizations for women of color, such as Affinity and Women of All Colors/Cultures Together (WACT). But while many groups began during this time period, Amigas Latinas is one of the few Latina organizations in the U.S. to sustain itself over a decade. This success, Torres explained, in part because the organization is willing to meet the changing needs of the community it serves. For example, despite some opposition, Amigas Latinas created transgender programming and events.

They developed into a non-profit by “responding to a changing reality and needs of the community,” Torres added.

Like Torres, Fountain-Stokes’ work revolves around the important contributions made by queer Latinos. His research focuses on the roles played by GLBT Latino artists, such as author Achy Obejas, film director Rose Troche and Feast of Fun podcaster Fausto Fernos.

While there are many individuals who have made artistic contributions to the GLBT community, not all of their efforts are recognized, Fountain-Stokes explained. For example, Troche directed the 1994 independent lesbian film “Go Fish.” The movie was a wild success, but the recognition Troche received by the mainstream gay community came at a price. Fountain-Stokes explained that in discussions of the film and interviews with Troche, her Puerto Rican heritage was often overlooked.

“Rose Troche’s Puerto Rican-ness is often not acknowledged,” Fountain-Stokes said. Some of this is partially because people are unaware that one of the film’s main characters is Puerto Rican or that the Chicago neighborhood the film is set in—Wicker Park—was home to a multicultural lesbian community in the mid-‘90s. However, while the film isn’t easily seen as Latina, it is still important to document, he said.

During a Q&A segment, one participant asked if visibility is still a large barrier for Latino organizations. According to both Torres and Fountain-Stokes, unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do in this area.

“We still have to make more of a presence and insist on our acceptance in the community,” Torres said.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Out at Chicago History Museum: Thursday March 4

Chicago History Museum: Out at CHM 2010

Queer Latinos: Art and Change
Thursday, March 4
Cocktails at 5:30 p.m.; program at 6:30 p.m.

Join us for a fascinating exploration of Chicago’s long standing and diverse queer Latino community. Scholars Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes and Lourdes Torres share their insights on the intersection of art and political change over the last twenty-five years.

$12; $10 members and students.

To purchase tickets click here.

Pancho Casas - Romance del arcano sin nombre

La señorita Lola von Miramar se complace en compartir este bello y desconcertante video, premonición de bruja de su amiga Francisco Casas (Yegua del Apocalipsis), presentación de su libro Romance del arcano sin nombre en Santiago de Chile en febrero de 2010, antes del horripilante terremoto. Acompañemos, pues, a la Pancha en su desplazamiento verbal y físico por la geografía de Santiago.

"¿Cuántos pájaros murieron durante la avalancha?"

"Cayó la roca."

"Muerte que nos transforma."

"Si se calla el cantor, muere la rosa."

Los adora,

Lola von Miramar