Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Double Closet

Like many ethnic activist movements the Mexican liberation movement began sometime around the 1960’s. The LGBTQ resistance finds many of its roots in these ethnic liberation campaigns. Through their social rejection as a minority the Mexican community has had many ordeals in dealing with liberation and equality movements. However, because of their social stigmatization, the Mexican community is able to create a sense of solidarity that empowers them in their activism towards LGBTQ liberation and equalization.
            The Long-Chavez article describes the oppression that the Mexican community has to bear. The multiple suicide attempts of 22 year old Yanelli Hernandez are used to quickly brings to light the suffering created by the immigration enforcement situation.  However, the article also begins to define the many other oppressive problems faced by this community. Through Alex Aldana the author is able to reveal the identity crisis that a lot of youth have to perceiver on top of the documentation predicament. This credits Smith’s idea of how all oppressions are interlocked. Alex’s ‘double closet’ exposes the link between homophobic-created depression and that of being undocumented. This homophobia is simply another outlet that allows the further stigmatization of the Mexican community.
            The intertwining of these depressions brings forth much resentment from Alex’s family as it does with other families in the LGBTQ community. But where does this resentment come from?  It derives from the “…allegiance to patriarchal gender relations and to a system of sexual meanings that directly militate against the emergence of this alternative basis of self- identity”(Almaguer, 1991, p.545) that Chicano families require.  A possible reason for this requirements existence is that the existence of one’s homosexuality bringing the sexuality of others into question (Smith, 1993). A common way to prove ones heterosexuality is to “…put down lesbians and gay men at every turn” (Smith, 1993, p.1130). This can be seen in the Mexican community through the creation of negative terms such as “maricón” and “puto” that tether gay men to the effeminate and negatively passive identity that resides in the Mexican community (Almaguer, 1991). The creation of distain towards the Mexican community through the opposition of immigration movement can led to further internal degradation of the Mexican people themselves.
However, though there is much resentment in attitudes towards the Mexican immigration and LGBTQ oppression, the article presents a possibility for hope. “Fortunately, there is an increasing body of work available…that provides an integrated approach to the intersection of a multiplicity of identities and issues” states Smith (1993). This work is represented in the support of those like Yanelli and Alex through supportive posters, sit-ins, and acknowledgments towards activist organizations like the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition. The article does brutally describe the effects of all forms of oppression associated with the Mexican community but it also describes the admirable productivity created in the support that they have for each other.
Because of the activism of this undocumented youth the correlation between immigration injustice and the injustice of LGBTQ community is undeniable. As the Mexican community steps away from the masculine/passive roles in homosexuality and the greater LGBTQ community they will be able to break through the depressive wall created by those roles and continue that positive virtue towards the concern of immigration. 

Tomas, Alamaguer "chicano Men: A Cartography of Homosexual; Identity and Behavior" in Social Perspectives in Gay and Lesbian Studies ed. Peter M Nardi and Beth Schneider, 1998
Barbara SMith "Homophobia: Why Bring it Up?' from The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. ed Henry Ablelove et al New York& London: Routledge, 1993.
Andrea Long-Chavez (2012, February 3) Undocumented Young Activists Talk About Depression And Suicide. Huffington Post.
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  1. The concept of intersectionality is one that people tend to overlook - the idea that a person can have more than one social identity. As a result, we tend to ignore that discrimination occurs within all types of social identities. In fact, it would be wrong to believe that minority groups are not capable of ostracizing “their own” simply because some do not adhere or fit in to their particular norms. Cherrie Moraga explains how many civil movements themselves have not been free of their own kinds of discrimination and marginalization when she explains, “...I experienced... the homophobia and sexism of the Chicano Movement” (146). This post is the perfect example of how religion, ethnicity, culture, and sexual orientation clash with each other, ultimately making the minorities within minorities feel as though they truly don’t ‘belong’ anywhere. I completely agree that it is generally harder for a Chicano or Chicana to come out to his or her family. First, the Chicano culture is often heavily associated with the Catholic religion, which has openly expressed its rejection for anything having to do with the LGBTQ lifestyle. Second, not only does patriarchy play an important role in the workplace, but it also establishes that all men will one day become the “man of the house”. The question then arises, “If a man openly expresses himself as gay, how can he be expected to assume traditional masculine behaviors and one day become the head of a household?” Indeed, sexual minority individuals are marginalized within their own social minority because the LGBTQ lifestyle challenges such well-established and widely-accepted ideals within the Chicano culture.


    Moraga, Cherrie. “Queer Aztlan: the Reformation of Chicano Tribe” from The Last Generation South End Press, 1993.

  2. I think it is very interesting that you bring up the concept of the “double-closet” because when we think of minorities we often do not take into account the fact that each person is different. There are several identities that people identify with and like you said homophobia becomes another way to stigmatize the Mexican community. Another great point to bring up is that individuals of multiple identities often get rejected within their groups. For example, the Mexican community might not accept you for being gay and the gay community may not accept you for being Mexican. In the article by Barbara Smith, Homphobia Why Bring it Up she talks about the “isms” she states “that major ‘isms’ including homophobia are intimately and violently intertwined.” Smith’s article helps explain intersectionality- which is the various ways that discrimination's and privileges occur simultaneously. Your blog shows how different forms of discrimination intertwine; you mention the story of Yanelli Hernandez a twenty two year old female who not only has to deal with an identity crisis but also with her legal status. Yanelli Hernandez is just one example of how various identities interlock- race, sexual orientation, age, nationality, and religion are just a few.

    Smith Barbara. "Homophobia: Why Bring it Up?" from The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. ed Henry Ablelovee al New York& London: Routledge,1993.