Queer Latinx Spaces

by Samantha Martinez

Me in the middle. In the middle of everyone who is not me. 
Me in front of a squiggle mirror, catch my reflection.
There I stand, brown, Puerto Rican…
Has no defined reflection.
There is no state sanctioned visual markers for queerness
Sometimes my queerness is erased because I only stand in straight places
It is assumed I am like everyone else because I have children
Because sometimes I wear mom jeans.
Because I have not held the hand of another woman in so long
In public that my hands reflexively hold me, as I am the only one
Who can.

Yet the cliché is the eyes are the windows to the soul
And if you wonder what you see when you look into mine
There lies my queerness,
There lies the intangible light of attraction to others like me
There lies the memories of club nights for queer Latinas,
Where we learned to erase the gendered movements of Latin dance steps
And merengued and salsa’d and cumbia’d to the syrupy infectious
And syncopated songs replete with Latinidad and pride.

There are no queer Latino songs of pride. We must appropriate the songs
We sing to lovers dancing, grinding, spinning, mouthing or singing out loud
Marc Anthony, La India, Carlos Vives, Pimpinella, Daddy Yankee
We crowd ourselves so tight
into these clandestine queer Latino spaces
Because here the shroud of otherness dissipates and we just are
And two queens can kiss their goatee’d mouths, and two femmes can spin
Their hairs into our faces and touch hand to ass to breast to cheek.

We were always aware of the irony of the space, a boxed club on a corner
Of a place called Queens, and how crossing the threshold either in or out
Released you from the bonds of repression or handed you back to
The world of insecurity. Yet we dared and we danced and it was our sanctuary.

Here is my marker of my queerness to the world.
Here are my words that acknowledge I am.
I am bearing witness to my queer Latina soul
The one that loves women and men who love men
And anyone in-between and is every shade of brown.

Here is my proof that I exist. Do not tolerate me. Love me.
Love me. Love me. Love me

About Samantha Martinez:

I’m a Queer Latinx mother of two children, and am in graduate school obtaining my master’s in social work. I’ve been politically active since my early twenties although diverted after having children but going back for my graduate degree has sparked that in me again. I’m also a writer of poetry and creative non fiction and a photographer. I currently live in a small town in Southern NJ where my queerness has not been an issue. And lastly, I’m a proud Newyorican!

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