The Diasporas at Home: P.R. Releases New Books About Queer Histories
SAN JUAN – Just in time for back to school and the November elections, Puerto Rico’s LGBTTQI communities now have several new his/her/hirstory books to add to their reading lists. Recently released to the public by their Puerto Rican and queer authors & illustrator, these tomes are great additions to the island’s missing gender & queer studies departments, as well as educational tools (several are coloring books) for people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations….
Brought to us through the struggles of Puerto Rico’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer and intersex (LGBTTQI) communities, one of these new arrivals, published by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, is titled, “San Juan Gay: Conquista de un espacio urbano de 1948 a 1991,” which was written by Javier E. Laureano and released to the public at the Museo de Historia de San Juan.
As Puerto Rico’s first, comprehensive Gay and Trans histories of San Juan—from just after World War II and the creation of the Commonwealth of P.R., to the AIDS crisis and the serial killings in the 1980s—the book “is a mix of history and cultural criticism.” From the visibility and invisibility of these communities in mass media to laws that penalize relations between homosexuals, as well as government’s manipulation of information on AIDS, the book is a footprint of Puerto Rican queers’ struggles for civil rights and inclusion in all dimensions of society. The book is an accessible read for experts and aficionados of the histories of San Juan.
Another set of new publications, recently launched at Librería Libros AC Barra & Bistro in Santurce, is a series of three publications/coloring books on Queer History, Carnival and the Circus. Written in Spanish and English, the books include cutout paper dolls on famous LGBTTQI folks as well as characters from the Carnival and Circus. Accessible to adults and children of all ages, the books are titled: “Un breve y transformador relato de la Historia Queer,” by Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes* and illustrated by Dave Buchen; and “Una breve y exuberante historia de Carnaval” and “Una breve y spectacular historia del Circo,” both written and illustrated by Dave Buchen.
“Queer history is a different way of seeing the world: one that turns some common beliefs about human identity upside down and challenges conventional ideas about sexuality. It tells us that the world is actually a more complicated place than most people believe, and that there are many ways people can love each other and express their gender identity.” —from “Queer History.”
*La Fountain-Stokes also wrote “Queer Ricans: Cultures & Sexualities in the Diaspora,” published in 2009 by University of Minnesota Press, and is working on “Translocas: Trans Diasporic Puerto Rican Drag,” which will be about Puerto Rican and diasporic drag and trans performance and activism since the 1960s.
With these new publications, Puerto Rico continues to open more of its doors to include all people. We look forward to additional publications that will also reveal the stories of lesbian, bisexual and transwomen & men, as well as the emerging communities of LGBTTQI Quisqueyan@s, leather folks, bears, People Living with HIV/AIDS and sex workers.
Blane McLane has worked at Caribbean Business for more than 20 years as a researcher and copy editor. He is a macro community organization social worker focused on inclusion, multiculturalism, diversity, intersectional politics, sustainability and social change; and is a former community affairs radio host on WCBN 88.3 FM Ann Arbor, Mich. (“Closets R4 Clothes” for the LGBTTQI communities; “Male-Adjustments” for men against sexism; and “Access: Stairs & Stares” for people with disabilities); as well as a green, equality and social justice activist.