Latin American/Latin@ Crossings: LGBTQ Latin@ Lives Within and Across Borders


This course will take as a starting point two facts in need of interpretation from an interdisciplinary approach to social processes: During the last decade, the Latin@ community has become the largest ethnoracial “minority” in the United States; and, simultaneously, a number of Latin American countries are on their way to greater social inclusion of LGBTQ communities well in advance of similar struggles in this country. How does one explain these two facts? Are they somehow related to the specific LGBTQ sexual and gender cultures that have emerged in Latin America and Latin@ communities in the United States? Moreover, what are the transnational connections between these networks of affiliation, identity, and struggle? For example, during the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, the Latin American and Latin@ Hub in the Global Village hosted conversations and cultural events between young people organizing support networks and political collectives for HIV-positive youth throughout Latin America and Latin@s in the United States who were doing similar work. What were the transnational understandings of LGBTQ cultures, health, and struggles for social justice in the Americas that informed these conversations? These examples of transnational exchange between Latin American and Latin@ LGBTQ communities are replicated frequently, not only in international forums such as the International AIDS Conferences but also via back-and-forth migration and social media platforms. This course will introduce students to Latin@ LGBTQ communities in the United States and across Latin America, as well as those transnational spaces that are local and betwixt and between. Part of the course materials will delineate the racialized “sexual ethnogenesis” of a number of urban-based Latin@ LGBTQ communities in the United States via ethnographic data and analysis. Another part of the course will consist of case studies of different Latin American LGBTQ communities, using a human-rights approach as our framework and entry point. Along with these ethnographic and human-rights lenses, students will engage and analyze representations of these communities found in popular culture, which will include graphic novels, community websites, activist blogs, public-service announcements, and fictional, as well as documentary, films. One of the main goals of the course is to have students develop the kind of transnational cultural literacy that Latin@ and Latin American LGBTQ communities have deployed and refined as they have struggled for social recognition and a more just distribution of the economic and symbolic resources in their respective societies. At the end of the course, students will produce a seminar paper that focuses on a Latin American country of their choosing in tandem with a Latin@ LGBTQ community in the United States. Along with this written seminar paper, each students will lead an in-class presentation that will include visual and/or creative materials from the popular cultures of the national and community sites of their choosing. These two final projects will be informed by students conducting instructor-supervised “field visits” to community-based organizations in the New York City metropolitan area that provide social services to, advocate for, and/or organize Latin@ LGBTQ communities.