In her essay La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldua provides a detailed history of the persecution of the Chicano settlers of the U. S. Southwest at the hands of their Anglo oppressors. Anzaldua refers to the Aztlan, the borderlands between the United States and Mexico encompassing parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, as a “ vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary…the prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants…the squint-eyed, the perverse, the queer, the troublesome”.
I find the author’s utilization of the word queer to describe the Aztlan peoples particularly interesting, as it draws a recognizable parallel between the historical struggles of Chicanos with the enduring tribulations of the LGBTQ community in modern America. Anzaldua accuses “ The Gringo…the fiction of white superiority” of “ seizing complete power, stripping Indians and Mexicans of their land while their feet were still rooted in it” and even goes so far as to make mention of “ Angloterrorism”.
The author’s characterizations of the oppressive actions of the political-ruling white class towards the Chicano people can just as easily be applied to recent legislation crafted by several right-leaning politicians that serves only to strip LGBTQ individuals of theircivil rightsand to designate said persons as second class citizens.
These statutes include the recently invalidated Proposition 8 here in California as well as the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which would have forbidden gay couples from enjoying the same marriage benefits as heterosexual spouses, current state laws or constitutional amendments in 35 states that define marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman, and current anti-sodomy laws aimed squarely at gay couples in 13 states that remain on the books despite such laws being outlawed by the US Supreme Court 10 years ago.
Such anti-gay legislation is similar in prejudicial and persecutory scope as recent anti-immigrationlegislation enacted in Arizona and Alabama that seeks to intrude on the civil rights of Latin Americans in those states, who face imprisonment and deportation for non-compliance. As described by Anzaldua, the continuous berating of the Chicano people, “ faceless, nameless, invisible, taunted with hey cucaracho and mojado” is ll too similar to the constant torment faced by members of the LGBTQ community by intolerant members of the oppressive majority, such as being verbally assaulted as “ fags”, “ queers”, “ homos”, and much worse. Gloria Anzaldua eloquently equates the Chicano struggles with their Anglo imperial masters in the Aztlan with the LGBTQ struggle for civil rights in modern American society, and unfortunately, these fights will have to both continue to be waged will into the foreseeable future.
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