I am currently reading a book titled, A Cup of Water Under My Bed. It is written by a woman named Daisy Hernández. In it, she talks about the change of going from a Spanish-speaking home to having English take over as her primary language. She addresses the confusion and even fear that many of Hispanic-Americans face.
Spanish is not my first language. I heard my father speaking some Spanish. I better recall teaching my father English and proper pronunciation. Because of my father’s dark roots, he was very much ashamed of being Hispanic. He didn’t want his children growing up to be Hispanics. He wanted us to be white and to speak English. We did, and we still do.
Spanish was easy, though. Too easy. Even though some of the words in school were new, there was no challenge there. When I was twelve years old, I tutored seventeen year old students in Spanish. The language was always there, hidden in my mind. It just came easily. To this day, it still does to some extent. I can read and write in Spanish far better than I can speak it.
I understand that my Spanish is very formal; I’m sure a native four year old Latino can speak Spanish far better than I. It’s interesting, though. I have a dichotomy when it comes to my race. When I am around “gringas,” I am the Boricua queen. If I am around fellow Latinas, I cave in and sound like a sheepish little white girl who knows how to say, “sí.” I am too Hispanic to be white, but too white to be Hispanic.
How does this apply to the Hispanic LGBT community? I know I’m not the only one. I know that Daisy Hernández is not the sole Latina who struggles with her family’s original language. There are many of us out there. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m sure it’s safe to say that there is a decent Hispanic population that tends to be more “gringo” than “Latino.”
The LGBT community faces so many obstacles, one of which is our identification. Ours is the rainbow because people of all colors and from all walks of life share in our sexual and personal identity. But what about our racial identity? Where do we white-Latinas go? Does it matter? In the case of the LGBT community, yes it does matter.
Inclusion has become a hot topic for our community. We must include queer folk, and those questioning, and more sexual identities than I can wrap my head around (It’s nothing against them or the community, it’s just all very new to me). We want to include as many people as we can in our community. We want to demonstrate our openness and understanding of all lifestyles. We need to do the same for our races. Whether we are all one color, or mixed, we need to be united. Latinas like myself cannot be looked down upon because my Spanish skills are rudimentary at best. I have something to offer the LGBT community in both English and Spanish. I hope that my fellow Hispanic LGBTs will see, understand and respect that. We need to come to embody all colors, all races, all languages, all creeds, all ethnicities…all people.
When you read my articles, I hope that you are doing more than just laughing at my poor Spanish grammar. I hope that you see I am taking this opportunity as a gringa, a Latina, a woman, and a member of the LGBT community to reach out and help in as many different ways (and languages) as I can. That is what we all need to do. It needs to be a community effort.
Our rainbow surpasses color, national and linguistic barriers. In order to stay in true solidarity, to stay strong and unified, we must all work with each other. We must help each other with language differences. We all need to do our best to hear each other, and help each other to be heard. Let’s not get caught up in how much more gringa I am than Latina. We can’t pick apart each other’s life, each other’s words, each other’s dialects and languages. Even if the linguistic skills aren’t perfect, let’s embrace one another and accept each other for who we are rather than what we are. The message is still there. Let’s help each other so that we are all heard.
Live life in your own special way,