Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Youtube Analysis #5

Gloria Anzaldua's “Borderlands/La Frontera” creates an interesting dialogue that attempts to bridge the gap between racial and sexual stigmatization as she explores her own experiences as a Queer Chicana. This short clip from Monica Palacios’s solo show, entitled Queer Soul, offers a window into the life of such an individual. While stating that her older sister is also a lesbian, Palacios recounts how her family asked “Did you guys eat the same thing? How did this happen?” (Palacios). This line of questioning then begins a subconscious and subcultural discourse that attempts to explore the reasoning behind such a defection from the Latino/Chicana social structure. If “culture forms our beliefs [and is] made by those in power---men” (Anzaldua 1018), then the hierarchical basis of this power structure is reflected within a partriarchal context. Her parent’s inquiry into their daughter’s development is a clear sign of a subconcious social panic; if the only social avenues a woman could take in latino culture were that of “[…] the Church as a nun, to the streets as a prostitute, or to the home as a mother” (1018), then what would their two queer daughter’s be thought of? More importantly, what kind of existence can they have within a latino society if they fail to follow any of their prescribed gender roles?

Accordingly the parents then experience a sense of confusion over the situation: “Just when the Mexican, Catholic family thought they had one Lesbian daughter, they actually have two. Experience their confusion in ‘Double Dyke Familia’!” (Palacios). Here, the queer person of color is shown to be both a deviant and revolutionary; “For the lesbian of color,the ultimate rebellion she can make against her native culture is through her sexual behavior. She goes against two moral prohibitions: sexuality and homosexuality” (1020). Deviating from the norm sets up the queer person of color to be ostracized as he or she, in this case the female lesbian, denies the latino culture the ability to force its gender and sexuality moral codes on to her. For how can a female lesbian be subjugated by patriarchy if she is not attracted to, and thus not susceptible to, social and sexual male domination?

As the skit goes on, Palacios makes it evident that it is the family structure that needs to reinforce their patriarchal social norms for the sake of both the individual and the family: “Every year, the familia had the same holiday wish---por favor, let them bring home men for dinner!” It is this aspect of family structure that begins to be detrimental in allowing latino/a individuals to live their lives how they see fit. If “most of us unconsciously believe that if we reveal this unacceptable aspect of the self our mother/culture/race will totally reject us” (1020), then the oppressive aspect of latino culture and society both polices and constrains individuals within rigid socially acceptable behavior.

Of course, the follow up thought to that reinforcement is that with any deviant behavior there comes the risk of it being passed along to other members of the society. It should then come as no surprise that Palacios’ familia makes the second wish that “we don’t want to march in that gay parade!” If “the Chicano, mexicano, and some Indian cultures have no tolerance for deviance” (1019), any deviance becomes a direct threat to both the social norm and power structure of a society and thus must be repressed or eliminated.

Works Cited:
Anzaldua, Gloria. “Borderlands/La Frontera.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Rivkin, Julie and Ryan, Michael. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2004.

Palacios, Monica. “Double Dyke Familia.” Queer Soul. Highways Performance Space, 2002. <>

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