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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sácala (del closet): Unapologetic Queer Sexualities in Mexican and Latinx Melodrama

  • Author(s): Rivera, Oscar
  • Advisor(s): Schiwy, Freya
  • Aguirre, Ivan E
  • et al.

This dissertation aims to actively approach melodramatic Latinx/Mexican productions as cultural manifestations of a political movement that not only pushes the proverbial envelope towards post-queer-identity (that is post the coming out climax of many works) by demanding the recognition of explicit queer sexuality as a powerful tool that can and does invoke change in the cultural and social realm. Sácala (del closet) theorizes what I am calling unapologetic raw queer sexualities, which I see manifested in Latin American and Latinx cultural productions. I pay close attention to the transnational connections and influences not only between the neighboring countries of México and the US but also in global conversations with sexual identities in Latin America. The works I engage in my dissertations include the 1983 novel titled Melodrama by Luis Zapata. I suggest that Melodrama is both an homage and a parody of the melodramatic genre in Mexican Golden Age cinema and how the novel ultimately destabilizes fixed notions of gender and sexuality that impact both straight and queer understandings of body, identity, and desire. In Chapter 2, I work with performances by El Mariachi Arcoris de Los Angeles by analyzing the different ways in which the queer mariachi queers spaces and dares to reimagine what it means to be queer and what it means to unsettle patriarchal, heteronormative frameworks that are historically associated not only with Latinx culture and Chicanx activism but indeed socially pervasive across the different ethnic groups that make up the United States of America. The following chapter analyzes Netflix's La casa de las flores (2018), an original series entangled with Mexican melodrama, particularly stemming from telenovelas, that relate directly to queer world making issues as I pay attention to US notions of sexual identities that are appropriated by non-US subjects as well as the different forms in which these subjectivities exceed theoretical imagining of transnational queer (re)formation with a visibly queer sexuality. Lastly, I analyze Tangerine as an audiovisual project which allows the viewer to experience -with limitations- sexual otherness while questioning notions of Latinx family.

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