GAY PRIDE was defined during a time when homosexuality along with other struggles for social acceptance plagued media and the eyes of Americans as a whole. Even now, with the possibility of gay marriage coming closer to a reality I am reminded of the importance of being true to who you are and the recognition that we are all multi-faceted individuals whose identities are not simply defined by one category.
As a man who has fallen in love with other men, I am proud to say that I love Being Gay and Being Latino and that I hold both flags with equal pride. Born of both Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, my journey towards self-acceptance has not been easy and although there were various trials and tribulations, I must admit that I am thankful for the supportive family members I have and the reality that they accept me for who I am.
They do not sugar coat my imagery as an overtly gay man, and did not shy away when I struggled to find myself as a Latino man in a predominantly white institution of higher education, where I experienced for the first time what it truly was to be the “minority.”
Even when I met other gay men who were white, there was this disconnect: an inability to connect on a level where they understood my experiences as a gay Latino man, who grew up with particular notions of respect, parenthood, morality, and acceptance.
It is because of this that I think it is foolish for people to simply define themselves and their lives by one definition, or get lost in societal notions of how one should act and behave in public settings. Now, I am not saying that I am not one to fit within a gay nor simply a Latino man. I have formed and shaped my identity to one where the two are not mutually exclusive.
My identity as Xeno Martinez, Digital Illustrator and Writer was formed from my desire to be a voice and image for Gay Latino men who are ashamed of who they are and what our cultures say we should not be.
My imagery as an artist does not fit societal notions of acceptability, but in all honestly I do not care. Being proud of who I am is about giving courage to the youth that don’t feel pride in who they are. My artwork is about being as in your face as the hatred that we face and not apologizing for it.
Having pride in who you are is not just about you, it is about instilling that sense of self-love in others so that we, as a community, can feel the beauty of self-affirmation and gratitude. Even in the eyes of hate.
To learn more about Xeno, visit visit his fan page.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.