QUEER

  
What every gay man wants is Mother with a big penis.

-- Arthur Bell

    


In the small world that is my extended queer family we live as if our values shaped the world at large or more accurately that our values chisel away at some monolithic monoculture we attempt to subvert with our art, our blood, our daily prayer. This may be the truest fiction we inhabit, but it sustains us. For now.

Another maker of fiction, Spokane/Coeur díAlene Indian, Sherman Alexie writes: "I made a very conscious decision to marry an Indian woman, who made a very conscious decision to marry me. Our hope: to give birth to and raise Indian children who love themselves. That is the most revolutionary act." When I stumbled upon these lines in Alexieís collection of poems and essays, One Stick Song, my heart opened at the pure courage and simplicity of the statement. I felt Alexie my relative in the naming of what I, as a Chicana lesbian, have kept secret for so long. For as taboo as it is to admit within the context of the firmly-inscribed multiracial social democracy progressives paint of their Dream-America, I had a child to make nation, one regenerated from the blood nations Mexicans in this country are forced to abandon. I had an Indian child to counter the loss of my familyís working-class mexicanindianism with each succeeding generation. I had a Xicano child cuz Razaís turning white all over the states.

Sometimes I think it is the "social advantage" of looking white enough to travel unnoticed amongst them that has put me in the position to recognize on a visceral level how spiritually unrewarding the white nation-state is. It may feed your belly but not your soul, I tell my Chicano students. And beneath this writing, I hear my son ask about his beloved gringo grandpa, my father, "What about Papa Joe?" How do you teach a seven-year-old the difference between institutionalized ignorance, racism, bigotry, class arrogance, and the individual white people, breeds and mixed-bloods that make up our family? How do you teach a child the word "genocide" and still give them reason to love beyond their front door?

The evolution of my own changing lesbianchicana consciousness eventually led me to make the same basic decision Alexie made: "to marry an Indian woman and to give birth to, and raise Indian children who love themselves." Not necessarily in that order, but, I believe, prompted by the same moral imperative. I canít write those lines, however, without acknowledging that from the perspective of most North American Indians, Chicanos are perceived as second-class Indians at best or not Indian at all, I.e., "Hispanic." I also canít write those lines without also conceding that when most heterosexuals of color discuss "breeding" as a revolutionary act, they arenít necessarily thinking of their lesbian sisters and gay brothers as comrades in those reproductive acts of sexual resistance. Historically, we may have been invited to bed by those cultural nationalists, but not to the tribal councils.

Still, I believe my conversation about strategies for revolution as a chicanadykemama resides more solidly within the cultural-political framework of American Indigenism (North and South) than in any gay and lesbian or feminist movement, which remains, at its cultural core, Euro-American, in spite of a twenty-year history of people of color activism in those movements. I have for the most part removed myself from conversation with the gay and lesbian feminist because most of its activists do not share my fears and as such do not share my hopes.

Genocide is what Iím afraid of, as well as the complete cultural obliteration of those I call my pueblo and the planet that sustains us. Gay men and lesbians (regardless of race) have, in the last two decades, become intimately connected to the question of survival because of the AIDS pandemic. But as AIDS activists have already learned, sometimes the hard way, AIDS and the threat of death impacts people of color communities (gay and heterosexual) differently. AIDS is just one more murderous face in the long history of the systematic annihilation of poor and colored folk across the globe.
So, I fear AIDS as I fear gang-violence as I fear the prison industrial complex as I fear breast cancer. But I also fear the loss of Nuevo Mexico to New York artists; the loss of MexicanIndian curanderismo to new age healers; the loss of Dia de los Muertos to San Francisco artists and Halloween; the loss of Native tribal and familia social structures to the nuclear family (gay and straight); the cultural loss of kids of color to mixed-race adoptions (gay and straight); the loss of art to commerce.

I think of Adrienne Richís words from a generation ago, "Every womanís death diminishes me." Twenty years later, I would amend Richís statement and assert with equal lesbian feminist passion, "Every barrio boyís death diminishes me." I never knew I would experience it this way; this intimate sense de un pueblo in the body of a boy. Maybe motherhood has changed me. And then, I think not, except for a growing compassion for those I have loved the most intimately in my life: mexicanwomen madres unspoken and unspoken for. This love is what fundamentally propelled me to be a lesbian in the first place and this love remains so. And so, I suffer their sons, their fathers, our men. But I remain a resistant combatant.

-- Cherrie L. Moraga