This is for my Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latin Americans, especially in the USA. If you do not belong to this space, refrain from engaging. This is not for you.
It has been a long time since I prayed, as it has been for many of us.
Regardless, I was raised in a Latinx Catholic household, it is an undeniable and inextricable part of my identity. This space afforded me a link to my culture, my history, love, and though I may not pray anymore, it is still a part of me and I a part of it. That said, my religion, my spiritual-social-cultural space, is rife with homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and links to these violences via racism and sexism. I grew up to believe that I needed to fear this “way of life” and denounce my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, sometimes politely, too often violently. I witnessed grown men who told me that “los gays” had demons in them that need to be exorcised, saw others reject LGBTQ couples from our sacred spaces, saw preachers dehumanize and legitimize the violence against this community, our hijos, hijas, hermanas, hermanos, padres, madres, all blood and kin, because our God demanded it. “No soy gay” is a mantra we are born speaking. It is part of us, this violence. It is hard to accept, to believe, but we all know it and feel it. And too often, we feel, hear, breathe these thoughts in the same sentence we invoke Dios and his Son, Jesus, and the bible and the natural order of our Tierra Santa.
I understand the nuances of my faith, of Catholicism’s and Christianity’s complexities across the continent, because I have lived it all my life and continue to do so. I understand the strength that stems from our Mestizx Madre La Virgen de Guadalupe and los Santos that adorn our beautiful homes and sanctuaries. But that cannot deny us a reckoning with ourselves about how homophobic and transphobic we are and how much of it is rooted in our faith(s), and how this contributed to our family being massacred in Orlando, in a sanctuary of their own. What we must reckon with is how this violence, which is not isolated and happens on smaller scales everyday in our communities, stems from our faith(s) and how that faith is interlinked and born from the moment Columbus stepped foot unto the continent. This is not a thing of the past. This is our present.
I am not speaking to God. I am speaking to us. To my Latinx Brothers and Sisters. We must enter our temples, our homes, our sanctuaries where we for 500 years have excluded our familia and from out front doors thrown stones and convinced ourselves that those of us who are LGBTQ are not human. We must confront our violence, no matter how much discord it brings, no matter how much chaos may ensue within our families and community, no matter how pain and hurt that will come from these battles, we must commit to change ourselves and destroy what remains of this violent hate. We cannot allow our casual homophobia to have any room in our spaces, we cannot allow the defense of “I just don’t agree with that lifestyle” to exist, we cannot allow this ideology control the gates of who we love, who we defend, and who we afford humanity.
It is not enough to pray. it is not enough to denounce the “radicals” or the “fanatics” who perpetuate this violence in our communities, either by word or action. It is not enough to think that our religious spaces do not influence our social spaces. It is not enough.
I will not pray. But you be damn sure I will go into my community and fight to destroy these systems that shot down our familia in Orlando. I will fight to destroy every inch of homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia, in the Latinx community, especially where it is most difficult, in our churches, in our temples, at our altars, at the very spaces where we gather strength and justify violence. I will do this, because even now, I see our community crucifying Islam for this death when we ourselves are guilty.
So, to my Latinx brothers and sisters, especially those of us who are (perceived) to be straight, los invito a esta lucha – you will not be alone. There is blood on our hands, and we cannot wash it away, but we can work to have the blood stay dry.