Creating queer representation within chicanx culture at Chicano Park Day with QueerBarrioLove
A few chicanx and Latinx queer folks, with the support of allies, have been working together to prepare something really gay for the 49th Annual Chicano Park Day celebration.
Chicano Park Day has taken place every year to commemorate the efforts to establish and preserve Chicano Park. In 1970, when the area was under threat to become a California Highway Patrol station, the community organized and rallied together to fight for the space to be a park for residents and community members. The murals were later added to the park to preserve the history of not only how the park came to be, but how chicano/a/xs have created a home here in Barrio Logan, resisting acculturation in American society through art and displaying our shared history with our hermanxs across the border.
Chicano Park is a place where community members can feel at home, surrounded by culturally relevant art that allow all of us with the shared history to feel a sense of pride. It is also a day when folks from all over San Diego and the country come to experience the food, performances, the low riders and the unique culture that we’ve made for ourselves here in Barrio Logan. Every year that I’ve attended has been exhausting and beautiful. However, a group of young folks felt like something was missing.
Where are all the queer people at?
Queer folks are a part of this community and apart of our history, and we just want Chicano Park day to reflect that.
I don’t see queer representation when I go to Chicano Park Day, but I know there are lots of reasons why. Partially, it’s because we’re faced with the pressure of heteronormativity and machismo. This hasn’t always been apart of our culture—homophobia and traditional gender roles are consequences of western colonization, not a part of our indigenous history. Intentionally and unintentionally, this has contributed to the erasure of queer chicanxs—our hermanxs, family and neighbors.
This is why we are planning to have a photoshoot this Saturday at Chicano Park Day where queer chicanxs folks, couples, and their friends can get their pictures taken (for free) in front of the festivities and lowriders. Some of us will be decked out as Pachuco/a/xs, and folks are welcome to dress in a style that’s comfortable for them.
In the 1940’s, Pachuco/a/xs used clothing, the zoot suit, to break down ideas of style, westernization, gender, and heteronormativity. Mexican-Americans resisted the dominant culture through how they showed up in public spaces, and women dressed in zoot suits to defy ideas of gender normativity. After the Zoot Suit Riots of the 40’s, the pachuco/a/x subculture would evolve into the chicano style and Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and 70’s that we now celebrate during Chicano Park Day.
Of course, dressing up is optional, but apart of the fun for this type of event where everyone feels the culture of resistance coursing through their veins. We plan to have a group of queer folks and allies cruising through the park from 12:00-3:00PM. Our meet up spot will be by the fountains in front of the Mercado on Main Street. We will also be giving out educational zines on the intersections of queerness and chicanismx.
How we show up on Saturday is really important to the chicanx community. It’s really important to me and I think it’ll be really important for that young person that sees us and realizes that it’s okay to be queer and brown; they are loved and they will always have community here in Barrio Logan.
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