“We are afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, La Raza,for being unacceptable, faulty,
damaged… to avoid rejection, some of us conformto the values of the culture,
push the unacceptable parts into the shadows.”
~Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua

Through reading, writing and living I have been able to discover and recover what it means to be a Latina, a lesbian and a woman: they are interconnected and not mutually exclusive. They embrace each other and celebrate their differences; at times, there is struggle between the two. As Latin@s, I have noticed that we prefer to lose our “queerness” before our cultura because we might be seen as a “sell-out.” After all, being queer is considered a “white thing.”

But I embrace the three (Latina, Lesbian and Woman) as my own wholly trinity; as in, I am made whole by this relationship. I am conscious that the three are interdependent of each other and more importantly, that they are reinforced and shaped by my experiences. I have sought enlightenment, clarity, self-knowledge and self-acceptance in this process, by simply allowing myself to feel and deal with the emotions that have surfaced along the way.

Often times as Latin@ queers we are viewed by other Latin@s as less Latin@ because of our queerness. As if being queer we lose our Latinidad. We fear living openly. So, we prefer to deny a part of us, so as to not be rejected by our culture. In Gloria Anzaldúa’s book Borderlands, she speaks to this “fear of going home. And not be taken in.” As she says, “We are afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, La Raza, for being unacceptable, faulty, damaged… to avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the ulture, push the unacceptable parts into the shadows.” (Anzaldúa, 1987). I have refused my entire life to push any part of me into the shadows. I am not less of a Latina because I am a lesbian; I am in fact a stronger Latina in light of being a lesbian.

I too, defend my cultura against those who try to diminish who we are and what we have accomplished and provided to the global society. But I will be the first to call them out when they cry, “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido!” yet never bother to look at the queer community and join us in our collective struggle of equality for all.

The struggle is constant; every day I realize that everything I do affects and causes an effect on my wholly trinity. I live my life in harmony and do not allow anyone or anything to move me from the core of my being. I sit comfortably and confidently at the center of my truth.

Author and publisher, Steven Fullwood in his book Funny wrote, “The question on the table directed at any historically oppressed people is, can you prove that you exist?”

If one does not live openly (for whatever reasons), you continue to create this concept of “non-existence” and perpetuate the ridiculous idea that this “queer thing” is a “white thing” and therefore not an “us thing;” so queer Latin@s do not exist.

As difficult a task as it may seem we cannot remain silent. And when I say we, I am speaking in particular to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender people of color in every corner of the world.

We must begin to voice who we are so that we can prove that we have existed long before June Prides and Stonewall; that our movement is not a sexual revolution but a spiritual evolution and has been taking place for thousands of years.

Simply put… existimos.

Don’t misunderstand me please. I understand why people choose to live in closets (some do not have a choice). I understand that people fear rejection, abuse, marginalization and even death. For queer POC’s living in the United States, the battle is “uphill both ways” all of the time. For most queer POC’s living outside of this country it isn’t a battle, it is a full-out war.

But what if we ALL came out? What if we stepped out of the darkness? Never have the words of a conference I attended in 1996 called Children from the Shadows (now True Colors) echoed so loudly in my life, “In the light of understanding… shadows disappear.”

Remaining (and having to remain) silent sends a message of shame, fear and isolation. And no community can evolve in that atmosphere.

If you don’t come out… to the eyes of many, you don’t exist.

The coming out of our very own Ricky Martin is something of amazing historical proportions (though I’m still waiting for my Shakira Etheridge –winks at Salma Hayek). Our Hermano Ricky gave the world more “light about us” (and he had more resources available than our community –it took him a while. He was able to build a “fort” prior to sharing his truth).

I want the world to look around and see that GLBT POC’s are out in the world creating change and being visible. I don’t want to have to Google “Latina lesbians” to find out if they have existed (trust me I have and it isn’t lindo). If we emerged from our armarios, we need not prove our existence but reaffirm it by celebrating the strength of our diversity and living our lives in light of our truths.

Let us ask ourselves Mr. Fullwood’s question, “…can you prove that you exist?”

The light of our truth shines, “Sí!”

But we must break the culture of silence to shatter the culture of fear, hatred and ignorance that has made us appear invisible so that we may embrace the light of our queertura.

Our stories must be heard.