Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Orphan of Aztlan" by Luis Alfaro

I am fast forwarding
past the reruns ése
and riding the big wave
called future
making myself
as I disentangle
from the wreck of this
cultural collision

I am a Queer Chicano
A native in no land
An orphan of Atzlan
The Pocho son of farm worker parents

The Mexicans only want me
when I talk about Mexico
But what about
Mexican Queers in L.A.?

The Queers only want me,
when they need
to add color
add spice
like salsa picante,
on the side

With one foot on
each side of the border,
not the border between
México and the United States,
but the border between
Chicano and Queer,
I search for a
home in both
yet neither one
believes that
I exist

Blur the line
take the journey
play with the unknown
deal with the whole enchilada

We will continue
to create these
espectáculos tan sabrosos
that we can call our Queer Latino selves
and we will make them
al estilo los
like only we know
how to make them

Because we are
at the edge
at the rim
at the border
of a new world
and there is no place
to run
or hide

So tonight

I walk down
to the corner
I step over
this burned out lot
and say
I come in the name of peace and justice
and I ask
What are you afraid of?

Are you a
or a


The poem above is by Luis Alfaro, about his experience as a Queer Chicano and how he must navigate his life based on his many intersecting identities. The poem was featured in an episode of The United States of Poetry, in an episode called "The American Dream." I chose this piece for a couple of reasons. First, most of his work that I found was a play or a performance piece, and rather than choose something that I could only show a piece of, I chose something that I can show in its entirety. And second, as an English student I’m very fond of poetry.

I really connected with the idea of feeling out of place in multiple communities. I’ve experienced it myself. As a trans*-identified person, I oftentimes feel like an outsider in the LGBT community. I often feel like an outsider in my family because nobody else has had to deal with the same things I have. I know it’s not exactly the same as Alfaro’s experience or poem, but I could understand through my own experiences what he was talking about. And I think that is what makes the poem all the more special and beautiful. Disconnection is a personal experience, but also a human experience that many can relate to.

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