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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chicos Modernos -- VIVA!

In the essay titled “Viva Records: Lesbian and Gay Latino Artists of Los Angeles 1987-2000,” Robb Hernández discusses the cultural productions and contributions made by the Chicana/o-Latina/o art collective Viva! (Long Live!). Roland Palencia founded the collective in 1987 as a reaction to the AIDS epidemic that was killing thousands of people in the U.S. during this time. Utilizing the tactics of “AIDS activism, feminisms, and Chicano militancy” combined with a modern sexuality and gender politics, the Viva collective was able to mobilize a movement within the scape of the Latina/o community in Los Angeles.

Throughout Viva’s contributions, two things stuck out to me. As someone who attended the very first Models of Pride event in the 90’s, I have a distinct memory of member’s of Viva speaking to us as queer youth of color. For many years I had a copy of a book of poetry called “Chicks & Salsa” with a caricature of a dancing tortilla chip with sexy legs on the cover. Reading this book made me nostalgic of that monumental event and the empowerment I felt meeting educated queer Latin@s, one of the first times I’d experienced meeting a Latin@ in the academy.

Another valuable take away from the essay is the discussion of Joey Terrill’s contributions to Viva. An artist I’ve come to admire, and have the pleasure of interviewing for my senior thesis. His mini comic called “Chicos Modernos (modern boys),” was a catalyst for Latino’s to engage in discussions on safe sex; written in English and Spanish, the comic was a great medium for the non-English speaking community who were rarely addressed during the epidemic in the 1980s-1990s. As his earlier works with the zine “homeboy beautiful” produced in the late 1970s commented on homophobia within the Chicano movements, “Chicos Modernos” served as both a form of entertainment and a vital educational tool.

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