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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.

These insights lead me to question the very pursuit of masculinity. Why should I care that homophobia emasculates me to varying degrees in varying situations? Nevertheless, I remain a male-bodied person with all of its privileges regardless of whether I am called a faggot or a culero. Why build my community and my life on the pursuit of an ideal that is in the final analysis oppressive and harmful to all? I answer my own questions with a simple answer: Because in the end I remain a man. Escaping masculinity, which for most queer men means escaping its oppressive elements, is in the end a futile search for an unreachable identity that is free of sexism. Despite all I have written and all the thinking that I have done out loud, I will still have the power and privilege of a man. But, because of the insights I have gained moving back and forth between different forms of homosexualities throughout my life, I also have the ability to be responsible for that power and privilege. I can deploy my maleness at strategic moments and situations that work towards not only the liberation of women, but the queering of men.

Accepting this responsibility means not only challenging the macro-structures of oppression, but attacking the beliefs that support them. In practice, this must mean that gay and queer men support ideologies and movements of liberation in their daily life choices such as including housing rights, access to childcare, and immigration amnesty under the umbrella of queer rights. This shift requires a re-articulation of the self on the part of gay and queer men that accounts for our privileges, be they a result of gender, race, or class.

Through my mestiza/o gender, I attempt to honor the unequal amount of ingredients that have gone into the making of who and what I am. I am thankful for the queer gender my parents raised me with as it has shown me that “queer” doesn't mean “alone”; that it is only through our relations with others that who we are can have meaning. I am thankful for the gay individualism of my adolescence in which I learned that who I seek to be is determined by my own unique path and that I should trust that process. It is at the intersection of these teachings that I find the core values that drive me as a person.

I take a little from here, a little more from there, and a little less from back there; but it isn't the amount of how much I take from here or there that matters. Rather, it is the fact that I draw from so many wells to water the fields of my mestiza/o imagination that matters. I can create relationships with others that further the mixing of gender categories in the hope of undermining those same categories’ power to define who all of us are. In the times in which we live in, of unchecked American power around the globe and the increasing neutralization of resistance movements within the United States, a new type of queer masculinity that utilizes the strategy of disidentification to transform the very terrain on which we fight oppressive forces, is needed. That is what I hope to work towards when I imperfectly and impurely fashion my mestiza/o gender... (continue to acknowledgments and references)

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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