The Silent Battle Cry
For a long time, women have fought to have their rights and to be of equal status with men. It took her years of collaboration with different women of different time. She won battles through the years. But when her victory seems so near, another battle begins anew. She no longer stands for women alone. She stands for every oppressed individual due to gender and color. In her recent battles, gays and lesbians are the unsung heroes.
To relay this claim, two articles by writers who had first experience of such oppression were used to relay this issue. It is important to take their perspectives because it will show that the battle being fought is not just between two constituents. The fight is different for a gay and for a lesbian, especially for a colored individual in between.
Gil Cuadros relayed in his piece entitled “My Aztlan: White Place” the perspective of a colored gay man trying to survive a harsh society. Gloria Anzaldua likewise shared in her article “La Conciencia de la Mestiza” the perspective of a colored lesbian woman in a similar society. There are differences between these articles that presented the different experiences of individuals of their stature. But both articles, in the end, presented a different reality as that of what an “average person” would have believed. An eye opener, they say. But one should not blink to miss it.
According to the story by Cuadros, calling a gay man’s life harsh would be an understatement. The reality he illustrated was almost too much to read. But at the same time, it was a piece you cannot put down without reading it to the last word. He shared that the persona’s parents where his instigators for a different kind of hate. He hated to live as he did. The childhood he had were filled with foul memories of being tortured and being drunk.
As an adult, he experienced far worse. He mentioned that being hit by a stray bullet would have been better. He watched friends and lovers die because of a disease a lot of people are scared of. At the same time, a lot of people are infected with. HIV and AIDS are words not to be spoken, but more to be contracted with.
Similarly, Anzaldua shared that lesbians have been oppressed in a very similar manner. Mestizas are shunned from their own kinds, as they stand in between. They are rejected by traditions and cultures because they belonged nowhere. They had different colors running in their veins. But something was still worse. They were avoided further because they were lesbians.
Beings lesbians was having to stand somewhere in between, a space that society made invisible. That way, there was nowhere else to go. The shadows, perhaps, was better. But they did not settle for it because it was not what they wanted. They might have been rejected by their own, but as mestizas and lesbian or gay, they are able to make a new culture.
Their points stand that being gay or lesbian does not exempt them from the oppression. They point that while being pushed away by “normal” individuals, they find others on a similar boat. But the very boat where they were pushed to ride on was also being bombed to the sea bed. “Normal” people did not just want them away, they wanted them gone.
Their life experiences have been their fuel: to fight or to flee. Cuadros’ character has taken a less active route, but commendable nonetheless. He might have been hurt badly by his parents to remain “normal” but he did not lie to himself and admitted that he was gay. On the other hand, Anzaldua had been more proactive against the oppression of men over women, white over colored, and the colonizers over the colonized.
The persona in the story by Cuadros also had a lover who was white. The persona shared that he was fascinated with the Hollywood time: blonde and blue eyed. He was the man who infected him with the virus, but there was also a bond between them. They have shared good times together until his white lover was feeling the full effects of AIDS. When there was a threat to their relationship, the main character became worried. But his lover died a month later. He realized that the disease made him act that way. When the white man died, he was also almost a different person to the main character.
In Anzaldua’s relay, she mentioned that somehow, being gay or lesbian is even better because they are able to relate with other colored gay or lesbian individuals. She highlighted this by saying that since they were already disowned by their own people. They did not have a culture with them while standing in between. But on that fine line, joined by other people with the same dilemma became their allies. Their colors were not taken into account; it was the similarities in their experiences. They had something in common and that became the building blocks of their own culture.
Both writers shared that it is better to be away from their own and have a different identity with individual who understand them. As mentioned earlier, it was riding on the same boat. This time, it rides towards battle. The Chicano and the Chicana might have been oppressed, but they do not let themselves to remain in such clamor. They might experience the worse, but it would not be the end of them.
Cuadros has taken the perspective of a gay Chicano, and the experiences illustrated in his piece were a personal attack to his being. He shared his experiences as a child that lead him to want to remain gay and to never speak Spanish. His life as a gay Chicano adult was not a better picture. The oppression was worse as his color was not the only “flaw” that was seen of him, but his being gay as well. Having the issue with AIDS hovering over his life like a death penalty, his life even seemed more demeaning than it should be. There were assumptions about it from the people. They saw him as disease and not just the syndrome in itself.
Being a lesbian Chicana, Anzaldua has taken a broader perspective. She took into account the possible reasons as to why women are even oppressed in the first place. When the women found light to their troubles, the homosexuals were put under the shadows. With that she claimed that to shame is put on another to replace that was their own. She used the example of the whites oppressing the colored people for what they have lacked, later compared it to the nature of men towards women. The men might have been oppressed as well by this very standing of society. But she took pride in saying that the women had the courage to fight it, more so the gay individuals.
Both testimonies stand against the society as the very root of the problem. It dictates without anyone knowing how. It declared and brands a people. It makes history as it is. The power of what society believes and perceives is a very strong opponent. Changing the opinion of a group of such a scale would take years, at least to budge a little.
The story and the essay noted that society should not have that much power over every individual. To guide the lives of the people to follow just one line of thinking is an old approach. As different kinds of people emerge, one perspective should not over rule. Unless accept the inevitable that that line of thinking would be the oppressed notion one day. However, as society stands today, that day will still be years from now. There might have been changes as to how the society treats “awkward” people, but it has not turned around completely yet.
In conclusion, despite the movements to change the scenario of an oppressor and an oppressed to equal footing, one foot is either still stepping on the shadows or have been brutally cut off. The truth is, despite what many people believe as another feminist movement of fighting for women’s rights, as well as those for gay and lesbian, the war just begun. The battle is just a smaller rendition of the bigger picture, but it lead to a different war all together.
The articles by these authors might have taken a different writing style, point of view and scale, but they presented the same thing. They ranted about the injustice. It was not just against their being gay or lesbian. There were attacks to their being human beings. That is, alive human beings. They each presented realities of different natures, but uncommon to the “average” person. Sometimes, one will imagine how the world would be like if the cases were true to their lives. But in the end, that is only as far as it can go. Imagining can take a person places. But as far as imagining goes, it is not a reality—not yet. These writers shared not only their perspectives. They strongly shared their experiences. They laid out their lives for others to see and learn from.
Being gay and lesbian is one issue, as they stand in between being male or female. But as the abovementioned articles portrayed, being “mix breed” gay and lesbian is a different scenario all together. They do not have battles, they have a war. The goal is to survive through it all. But as it happens, as history and society leads mankind, there are casualties in wars. These gay and lesbian fighters for life are the unsung heroes of a battle with a blurred end.
The writers might have taken different perspectives and wrote through different genres, but their voices are clear. The picture is in full hard colors. It might take more years for them to fight, as the women of history had battled for. But victory over a war for human life and dignity is far more fulfilling than just raising the voice to instigate the battle.
Anzaldua, Gloria. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Routledge, 2003.