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Companeros

Latino Activists in the Face of AIDS

Jesus Ramirez-Valles

Publication Year: 2011

Telling the affecting stories of eighty gay, bisexual, and transgender (GBT) Latino activists and volunteers living in Chicago and San Francisco, Compañeros: Latino Activists in the Face of AIDS closely details how these individuals have been touched or transformed by the AIDS epidemic. _x000B__x000B_Weaving together activists' responses to oppression and stigma, their encounters with AIDS, and their experiences as GBTs and Latinos in North America and Latin America, Jesus Ramirez-Valles explores the intersection of civic involvement with ethnic and sexual identity. Even as activists battle multiple sources of oppression, they are able to restore their sense of family connection and self-esteem through the creation of an alternative space in which community members find value in their relationships with one another. In demonstrating the transformative effects of a nurturing community environment for GBT Latinos affected by the AIDS epidemic, Ramirez-Valles illustrates that members find support in one another, as compañeros, in their struggles with homophobia, gender discrimination, racism, poverty, and forced migration.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Gracias to all the participants who shared their life histories for this project. Their voices are the soul of this book. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to Rafael M. Díaz, who has inspired not only me but a generation of scholars. He was with me throughout this project giving me support, guidance, and a loving friendship. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-18

My first memories of AIDS are blurred. I do remember reading in El Norte, a Mexican national newspaper, something about homosexuals dying of a strange disease in the United States. It was a Sunday morning and I was in bed, in the two-room apartment I shared with a classmate. ...

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Chapter 1. Social-class Origins and Trajectories

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pp. 19-36

Social-class origins determine our life chances (McDonough and Berglund 2003; Feinstein 1993). It shapes our education, occupation, health status, migration, and life style. Latino GBTs who experience poverty also experience low levels of self-esteem and social support, and high levels of HIV and sexual risk behaviors (Díaz and Ayala 2001; Ramirez-Valles and Díaz 2005). ...

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Chapter 2. Gender Deviants

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pp. 37-62

“Cucurrucucu, paloma. Cucurrucucu, no llores” (dove, don’t cry), Blanca sang to me as she described the night a promoter found her singing in a nightclub. “Cucurrucucu Paloma,” a ranchera song, was made popular by Lola Beltrán, known in Mexico as the “queen of ranchero music.” ...

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Chapter 3. The Meanings of Latino

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pp. 63-80

The word Latino means nothing and everything. It can be an empty category. It can also be full of meanings and contradictions. Latino is a socially constructed concept or category when referring to a group. Its existence and meanings are contingent on a particular social and historical context. ...

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Chapter 4. The Formation of Gay and Trans Identities

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pp. 81-99

To become a gay or a transgender person is, still, an act of rebellion. The rebellion is against the power that asks us to follow the predefined gender roles of a man or a woman. The force that compels us to think, act, and desire as a man (in the case of those biologically defined as males) or a woman (in the case of those biologically defined as females). ...

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Chapter 5. Life with HIV and AIDS

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pp. 100-116

HIV triggers a transformation of the self that may lead to activism. The transformation, however, is frequently painful and slow, and activism is not its immediate outcome. Fear, shame, illness, and depression usually come before. This change and the stories that we are about to read come about in large part because of the advances in the medical treatments. ...

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Chapter 6. Getting Involved

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pp. 117-137

Gerardo and Orlando, both from Chicago, were involved in the creation of two small, distinct organizations: a volunteer-based organization of Latino gay men and an organization dedicated to providing HIV education and prevention services for Latino and black gay and bisexual men. ...

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Chapter 7. Finding Compañeros

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pp. 138-155

Finding compañera and a home is at the heart of community involvement. Our community involvement is about compañera and creating a home as much as it is about making social change and helping others. This is the major consequence of getting involved. We connect with others, who in turn link us to the wider world. ...

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Conclusion: The Road of Compañeros

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pp. 156-164

We had driven for two hours, when Marco asked me to stop and turn back. We were on our way to Chihuahua, the state’s capital, to meet with a group of gay men who were working on HIV and AIDS. A compañera we met in the women’s health organization for which I was working in Ciudad Juárez had put us in contact with the group. ...

Appendix

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pp. 165-166

References

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pp. 167-174

Index

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pp. 175-179

Further Reading, About the Author, Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252093470
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036446

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Gay activists -- United States.
  • AIDS activists -- United States.
  • Hispanic American gays -- Political activity -- United States.
  • Hispanic American sexual minorities -- Political activity -- United States.
  • Gays -- Identity.
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