Latin-American Literature Conference

A conference on Latino and Latin-American gay and lesbian literatures and cultures is being planned for the fa ll of 1996. The conference will be the first to bring together gay and lesbian writers, scholars, artists, and activists from Latin America and their Latino counterparts in the United States. A broad range of issues has been ra ised in the early planning meetings for the conference: the role of homosexuality in Latino literary and cultural representations; the role of lesbianism in the emergence of a feminist consciousness in Latin America; the impact of AIDS on the gay and lesbian Latino community; the marginalization of lesbian writers within gay discourse; convergences and differences among gay and lesbian Latin writers and those from Latin America. The development of gay and lesbian culture and politics in what the media monolithically calls “Latin America” has been highly uneven. There is a strong tradition of writing and activism in Brazil, for example, but in Mexico, gay and lesbian advances come in tandem with the sort of violence associated with the most brutal regimes in the hemisphere. Two years ago, Buenos Aires’ first Gay Pride March drew a proud contingent, but it numbered only in the hundreds (in contrast to the massive marches in many North American cities). Over the last two decades, Latin American and Latino writers have attracted considerable attention in the mainstream media in the United States. With some notable exceptions, Latin American and Latino gay and lesbian writers have often been subsumed under the broader, more “palatable,” rubric of ethnic a•1d national ident ities. The association of a Latino identity with the values of Ia familia has tended to silence, or worse, violently exclude, the voices of gay and lesbian “brothers and sisters.” As Cherrie Moraga has pointed out, with reference to Chicano culture, “Lesbianism, in any form , and male homosexuality that openly avows both the sexual and the emotional elements of the bond, challenges the very foundation of Ia familia.” The conference hopes to attract a range of participants so that the terms of such a challenge may be fruitfully discussed. The conference was originally proposed by Elena Martinez of CLAGS’s Program Committee. Jaime Manrique and Oscar Montero, also CLAGS Board Members, have joined the conference’s organizing committee.