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Amigas y Amantes

Sexually Nonconforming Latinas Negotiate Family

Katie L. Acosta

Publication Year: 2013

Amigas y Amantes  (Friends and Lovers) explores the experiences of sexually nonconforming Latinas in the creation and maintenance of families. It is based on forty-two in-depth ethnographic interviews with women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer (LBQ). Additionally, it draws from fourteen months of participant observation at LBQ Latina events that Katie L. Acosta conducted in 2007 and 2008 in a major northeast city. With this data, Acosta examines how LBQ Latinas manage loving relationships with the families who raised them, and with their partners, their children, and their friends.  

Acosta investigates how sexually nonconforming Latinas negotiate cultural expectations, combat compulsory heterosexuality, and reconcile tensions with their families. She offers a new way of thinking about the emotion work involved in everyday lives, which highlights the informal, sometimes invisible, labor required in preserving family ties. Acosta contends that the work LBQ Latinas take on to preserve connections with biological families, lovers, and children results in a unique way of doing family.

Paying particular attention to the negotiations that LBQ Latinas undertake in an effort to maintain familial order, Amigas y Amantes explores how they understand femininity, how they negotiate their religious faiths, how they face the unique challenges of being in interracial/interethnic relationships, and how they raise their children while integrating their families of origin.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Families in Focus

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 3-6


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

I came to the study of Latina/o sexualities at the most opportune time. I was a graduate student at the University of Connecticut and one of my mentors, Mary-sol Asencio, had just received a Ford Foundation grant to map the nascent field of Latina/o sexualities. She hired me as her research assistant on this project, which involved the bringing together of all of the top scholars in the area to discuss the ...

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pp. 1-15

I started my field research on lesbian, bisexual, and queer Latinas at a difficult point in my life. My beloved grandmother had recently died, and on her death-bed she told her best friend that she lamented the fact that she would not get a chance to meet the new grandchild whose arrival the family was so anxiously awaiting. The grandchild she referred to is my aunt?s daughter, whom her part-...

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1. “As Long as You Wear a Dress”

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pp. 16-37

As a girl in the Dominican Republic, I remember the powerful women in my family teaching me to embody femininity. As young as five, I vividly remember slouching comfortably over a chair watching cartoons and my madrina (god-mother) straightening me out. ?No te conviene andar con la espalda jorobada. Tienes que sentarte derecha con las piernas cruzadas. As? es que se sientan las ...

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2. “And Then the Father Set Me Free”

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pp. 38-60

When Carmen and Cassandra?s daughter was born, they decided they wanted to baptize the baby in a Catholic church. They picked Carmen?s sister and brother- in- law to be the baby?s godparents, and since they did not have a church of their own, they baptized the baby in the new godparents? church. We all stood in front of the altar: the baby, her two mommies, the godparents, myself, and a variety of ...

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3. Doing Family from within Interracial/Interethnic Relationships

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pp. 61-82

As I write this chapter, there have been ongoing developments across the country regarding the rights of same- sex couples to marry. On October 10, 2008, Con-necticut became the third state to allow same- sex couples to legally marry. Sylvia, a Connecticut resident in her early fifties and an immigrant from Cuba, took advantage of these developments and legally married her life partner of over ...

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4. Parenting among Families of Choice

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pp. 83-104

Early on in the data collection process I met Carla, a middle- aged Dominican woman, and her partner, Dolores, at a small gathering that took place at the home of a mutual acquaintance.1 Carla and Dolores had been in a relationship for more than ten years and lived in a small immigrant community just outside New York City. Carla had never had any relationships with men, but Dolores had ...

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5. Integrating Families of Choice and Origin

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pp. 105-129

I interviewed Aurelia at a restaurant in downtown Boston. We had corresponded through email a few times but had no mutual acquaintances. Aurelia is Nicara-guan, college educated, and holds a professional job. She identifies as a lesbian, and at age twenty- seven she has had one serious long- term relationship with another Nicaraguan woman named Pamela, whom she met when she was twenty- one. ...

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6. Conclusion: Are You Family?

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pp. 130-138

In a recent conversation my partner, Hilary, shared an encounter she once had with a schoolmate she had not seen or spoken with in over ten years. She was leaving a lesbian bar with a group of friends when she was approached by a woman whom she did not recognize. The woman, it so happens, thought she rec-ognized her from high school and called after her. As they exchanged pleasantries ...

Appendix A: Participants’ Ethnic Backgrounds

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p. 139-139

Appendix B: Formally Interviewed Participants

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pp. 140-142

Appendix C: Methodological Considerations

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pp. 143-144

Appendix D: Participants’ Education Levels

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p. 145-145

Appendix E: Participants’ Partnerships by Race/ethnic Composition

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p. 146-146


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pp. 147-154


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pp. 155-162


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pp. 163-168

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About the Author

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pp. 169-170

Katie L. Acosta is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Geor-...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813561974
E-ISBN-10: 0813561973
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813561967

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Families in Focus