With an undergraduate degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, much of his academic work has been about exploring race gender and sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean. Considering that only 15 years ago the thought of this conversation was almost non existent, to have the topic reach public forums is a step forward. As a witness to the march, Mark Padilla recounts in full detail, the events leading to the march in his book, Caribbean Pleasure Industry:
In the midst of the controversy surrounding the eminent deportation of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, it will be remiss if we do not discuss Queerness in the Dominican Diaspora, especially knowing that many Dominicans of Haitian descent are Queer or Transgender. The array of words separates homosexuals as ultimately different, and encloses them in distinctive social categories that separate them from society at large. Creating the atmosphere where the discussion can take place without the fear of being ostracized, negative societal inferences, or negative repercussions is the step from removing the topic from a culturally unmentionable taboo. This precedent will only help guarantee the protection of all marginalized groups, as it sets the legal example of guaranteeing the equality of civil rights to all Dominicans, regardless of race, class, or any other social identifier, as promised by the constitution. For many of us we have to balance our Queer identity with our Dominican one. The open conversation provides a window of opportunity for the GLBT Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community to express their opinions in support of their cause, which is all they can ask for. As Dominican sexuality and gender constructs continue to be redefined, more people are understanding their identities as Queer or Trans. It addresses history, music, gender, class, and media representations in more than sixty selections, including scholarly essays, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, short stories, and interviews. He is about to begin his training as an Oral Historian and hopes to get access to the stories from the people he identifies with most, Afro-Dominicans and Afro-Puerto Ricans. If your Dominican dance club plays homophobic music, stop it. On the mainland, many organizations have sprung up to help maintain the movement and enforce their Dominican identity politically, culturally and socially. This too highlights a problematic situation, as homosexuality, femininity, or submissive behaviors are then intrinsically connected through vocabulary that denotes negativity and second class status. Even in movements that strive to defend the human rights of thousands of folks, well-intentioned Dominicans contribute to the erasure and violence towards queer and Trans people. Be it vulgar, artistic or political, Queer Dominicans are no longer accepting having to balance their identities. Though texts discussing this issue in the Dominican context are hard to find, similar examples can be found in other Latin American countries that yield a perspective with which to understand the perceptions on the island. It must be critiqued because any Queer movement is not complete if all genders and sexualities are not benefitting. This piece is for you, in the cusp of diaspora trying to be an authentic self. This march is one of many examples to show that, even though Queer and Trans Dominicans face violence, neglect, homelessness and depression both on the island and in the Diaspora, Queer Dominicans have found ways to remain resilient. But where does this come from? Requests for permission to march and assemble as a group have been denied, and the public outcry over homosexuality, and its believed corruption and endangerment of the youth, is still a hot button issue. Like Polanco, many have been able to travel back to DR and use their skills learned abroad to promote Queer activism and academia. As a witness to the march, Mark Padilla recounts in full detail, the events leading to the march in his book, Caribbean Pleasure Industry: To be homosexual, in some ways, reflects a betrayal of a father and the family, and the act is viewed as one of disloyalty. Image of altered Dominican Flag with Pride colors. The presence of Afro-Latin s in the United States and throughout the Americas belies the notion that Blacks and Latin s are two distinct categories or cultures.
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