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Latino Literature  
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Other Significant Latino Gay Writers

Although the novels of Rechy, Islas, and Manrique illustrate some of the shared themes of Latino gay writers and the divergent means writers choose to employ these issues in their fictions, other Latino gay men writing in different genres have made considerable contributions that must not be overlooked or underestimated.

Hunger of Memory (1983), the controversial essayist Richard Rodriguez's conservative memoir, for example, has helped shape--for better or worse--the debates facing all Latinos in the United States around issues of bilingual education and affirmative action. The instant success of Hunger of Memory positioned Rodriguez as one of the most widely read Latino writers.

In Days of Obligation (1992), a more recent collection of essays, Rodriguez is more forthcoming about his homosexuality--an issue he sidesteps in his earlier memoir--and begins to address gay-related issues more explicitly, albeit within a very limited and often frustrating scope.

Still such disclosures position him as the most recognizable Latino gay man in contemporary literature. Even though Rodriguez lacks the gay and lesbian readership of his contemporaries, no other Latino gay male writer has had consecutive bestsellers among mainstream readers.

Other successful Latino gay male writers include the gifted mystery writer Michael Nava, whose Latino gay detective Henry Rios has emerged as one of the most interesting recurring characters in contemporary gay male fiction; the poet Francisco Alarcon whose award-winning work ranges from the erotics of contemporary life to the indigenous heritage of the Americas; and the playwright Joe Dante (aka Conrado Morales) who was one of the co-authors of the Broadway megahit A Chorus Line (1975) and who died of AIDS complications in 1991.

There are also a number of Latino gay male writers whose works have yet to appear in separate editions. Their writings are available only in small press anthologies; lesbian and gay periodicals; or, in the case of performers, on video. The current proliferation of performance art in lesbian and gay culture has enabled many talented Latinos to stage their work across the country.

Los Angeles-based writers such as Luis Alfaro, who in his lyrical solo piece Downtown (1991) describes his childhood and upbringing in the impoverished and gang-infested Pico-Union neighborhood, and Alberto Antonio Araiza, whose solo piece about testing HIV-positive, Meet My Beat (1991), has been performed throughout the United States and Europe, are perhaps the most interesting and successful Latino gay male performance artists currently at work.

Araiza and Alfaro are also instrumental forces behind VIVA!, an organization for Latino lesbian and gay artists in Los Angeles. Alfaro's unpublished comedy about a dysfunctional Latino family Bitter Homes and Gardens has been staged in workshops throughout the country.

Other talented writers include the Texas writer and performer, Paul Bonin-Rodriguez; Colombian-American poet and activist, David Acosta; Alberto Sandoval, the Puerto Rican playwright and AIDS theorist; and Chicano writer Gil Cuadros, whose fiction and poetry appear regularly in gay and lesbian journals. All these writers invoke distinct literary styles in order to address any number of issues relevant to Latino gay men.

David Román

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literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

arts >> Overview:  Latina/Latino American Art

Latina/Latino lesbian and gay artists often confront, with a peculiarly personal urgency, the crucial issues of gender, sexuality, and acceptance that have obsessed American culture generally in the past several decades.

social sciences >> Overview:  Latina/Latino Americans

Latina/o glbtq communities in the U.S. pursue multiple visions, diverse politics, and a variety of struggles for identity and liberation; their efforts have helped shape the meaning of what it means to be queer and Latina and Latino in the U.S. and transnationally.

literature >> Overview:  Mystery Fiction: Gay Male

In the decades since Stonewall, gay male mystery fiction has burgeoned in United States, both in quantity and in quality, and has increasingly been issued by mainstream presses.

literature >> Manrique, Jaime

Versatile Colombian-born author Jaime Manrique has written novels, short stories, poetry, and works of nonfiction with gay themes.

literature >> Nava, Michael

Mystery writer Michael Nava has increasingly been recognized as an important novelist whose mature work transcends the limited expectations of a popular and highly specialized genre.

literature >> Rechy, John

In his novels about hustling, preeminently City of Night and Numbers, John Rechy moves from the world of homosexual behavior into the world of gay identity.

literature >> Rodriguez, Richard

Essayist and memoirist Richard Rodriguez, perhaps the most widely read of Latino-American authors, positions himself as an outsider in America, not only because of his ethnicity, but also because of his sexuality.

literature >> Sanchez, Alex

Alex Sanchez's unique background as a youth and family counselor and his experiences as an immigrant have helped make him an important voice in today's young adult glbtq literature canon.


Bredbeck, Gregory. "John Rechy." Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Emmanuel S. Nelson, ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. 340-351.

Bruce-Novoa, Juan. "Homosexuality and the Chicano Novel." Confluencia 2:1 (Fall 1986): 69-77.

Klawitter, George. "Michael Nava." Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Emmanuel S. Nelson, ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. 291-297.

Ortiz, Ricardo. "Sexuality Degree Zero: Pleasure and Power in the Novels of John Rechy, Arturo Islas, and Michael Nava." Critical Essays: Gay and Lesbian Writers of Color. Emmanuel S. Nelson, ed. New York: Haworth Press, 1993.

Román, David. "Teatro Viva! Latino Performance and the Politics of AIDS in Los Angeles," ¿Entiendes? Queer Readings, Hispanic Writings. Emilie Bergmann and Paul Julien Smith, eds. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1995.

_____. "Arturo Islas." Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Emmanuel S. Nelson, ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. 221-225.

Saldívar, José David. The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991.


    Citation Information
    Author: Román, David  
    Entry Title: Latino Literature  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 26, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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