Your Name:

Your Email:

Friend's Name:

Friend's Email:

Creative Commons License
Powered by Movable Type



Notes Towards a Transformative Masculinity

Daniel E. Solís y Martínez

By Daniel E. Solís y Martínez
Daniel E. Solís y Martínez is Master of Arts in History student at Claremont Graduate University. The gay son of Salvadoreña/o immigrants to Los Angeles, Daniel has lived his life in spaces of contradiction. Daniel is interested in the excavation of marginal peoples' buried histories in the greater Los Angeles region. Currently, his research centers on multiracial community organizing in Los Angeles - both historically and in the present day - as well as tracing the trajectory of Latina/o immigrations to and within Los Angeles. Daniel hopes to be a university professor one day.

Mestiza/o Gender

After I graduated from college, I moved back home. Well sort of. Since my parents had divorced in 1999, home had become an unstable place. This instability only grew, so that by 2006, when I returned to the cement and asphalt plains of Los Angeles from the verdant river valleys of Ohio, my home had ironically shifted from wherever my mother lived to where my father lived. So it was to my father’s home that I returned in the summer of 2006. It was there that the questions about my gender, sexuality and race that I had been mulling over for years began to give way to tentative answers.

Once at home after half a decade away, I suddenly found myself caught up in the all-encompassing net that is my family. Again, I was subject to unreasonable invasions of privacy, minor outbursts of homophobia, and the ever-present reminders to fix my bed. I had also lost the ability to bring over men whenever I wanted. These changes, however, paled before the greatest change of all: whereas before I had been the angry black sheep of the family, I was now the only one everyone spoke to. Eerily, I somehow assumed responsibility for negotiating the fragmented terrain of my family’s relations with one another and assembling them for birthday dinners and other family outings. I was anointed the family peacemaker.

The shift in my position within my family dramatically crystallized around my younger teenage brother. In his senior year of high school, my brother was at a crossroads in his life and preparing for the life-altering transition to college when I moved back. Building on years of close friendship, I became my younger brother’s parent. Emotionally, I supported his ideas and dreams and made it my priority that he was listened to and nurtured. I intervened between him and my father to ensure that my brother received all the material things he needed. I was and am my brother’s queer mother.

In the course of becoming mother-figure to my younger brother, I saw in myself a concrete example of the other type of queerness I had been searching for. The queer gender I occupy in my family now is in many ways a continuation of the culerito place of my youth, but with significant changes. My queerness is spoken and named for what it is. I discuss with my family my attraction to men and share my critiques of heterosexuality. While accepting the connectivity central to Latin American homosexuality, I also value the balancing individuality I learned as an American queer. Combined, these two elements of two different systems of homosexuality have enabled me to construct a masculinity that is nurturing and supportive.

The complementary mixture of homosexualities that defines my present queerness has led me to realize the need to employ the practice of mestizaje to create new forms of sexuality. Drawing together the most useful elements of various global forms of homosexuality so as to craft personal homosexualities that challenge both heterosexism and the emergent hegemonic form of gayness in the United States, is a task to which mestizaje is uniquely well-suited for.

With the mestiza/o gender I am creating, my queerness moves beyond a matter of sexual identity and becomes an encompassing gender location. I embrace the ambiguous position of the Latin American puto and realize that pursuing masculinity is not only futile but it is harmful both to me and others. The mestiza/o politics of ambiguity show me that to be a gay man in a unified and stable sense isn't possible. The acts of exclusion that are required in creating a stable identity of gay masculinity, through the mestiza/o lens, are exposed as immoral and highly suspect. By buying into the binary gender system, queer men support the oppression of women, transpeople, and other gender deviants.

The space that Latin American homosexuals occupy in the gender system can provide queer men with a means to construct identities that alter patriarchy and create coalitions of change with others. The gendered basis of Latin American homosexuality, however, must be tempered by the protection of the individual that American gayness so heavily emphasizes. By ensuring that individuals are allowed to develop and creatively construct their own identities, the gendered articulation of homosexuality in Latin America can become truly emanicpatory. This mestiza/o combination is what I seek to create by living it everyday.

I recognize the potential dangers of engaging in the selective extraction and mixing of elements from diverse cultures, but I believe that the need for new forms of homosexualities justifies taking those risks. A politics of mestizaje can produce an impure queerness that is less about how each individual identifies, but instead focuses on how individuals relate to one another in the pursuit of justice. Claiming common cause with others, that is building a coalitional community of change, is an uneven process that must center not on the identities people wear and own, but instead on the act of relating. Who we relate to and how we relate to them is what should define us as queer. Thinking about queerness as a set of relations moves it from the realm of individual sexual identity towards a way of being. This shift sets queerness in the realm of gender, an all-encompassing script that defines who and what we are. Mestizaje opens up the category of gender, which is rightfully seen as a limiting force, into a means to structure the conflicting mixture of privilege and oppression that defines many queer men’s masculinities... (continue reading)

Navigate:  << Previous Page |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  | Next Page >>


Andy said:

Great essay!Very proud of you for writing this.

Posted at: May 19, 2008 2:44 PM

Ray said:

GREAT ESSAY!!! good work.

Posted at: May 19, 2008 11:35 PM

Lauren H said:


Posted at: June 1, 2008 3:38 AM

lecia said:

i'm so very proud of you, Daniel.

Posted at: July 18, 2008 11:15 PM

Daniel Mang said:

hello daniel

i was wondering, is there maybe a spanish version of your article?

(i would like a spanish/french friend of mine who's lived in latin america for some years to read your piece, and english is difficult for her)

daniel mang


Posted at: September 4, 2008 7:10 AM