- Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings
It has only been in the last ten to fifteen years that the impact of sexuality on national and international migration has received the serious scholarly attention that it deserves, and that universities, academic presses, and peer-reviewed journals have recognized and validated this field of inquiry. Luibhéid and Cantú's excellent anthology is an important contribution to queer migration studies, as it brings together outstanding contributions from a diversity of disciplines and perspectives. The book is useful as a general, basic introduction to those who know nothing about the topic, and also offers many nuanced readings on specific topics that will amply satisfy experts and specialists. With a total of eight essays, five of these directly addressing Latin American migration to the United States, the book is a vital resource for queer Latin American and Latina/o studies, complementing other volumes such as Brad Epps, Keja Valens and Bill Johnson-González's edited collection, Passing Lines: Sexuality and Migration (2005) and Queer Diasporas (2000), edited by Cindy Patton and Benigno Sánchez-Eppler. The book's remarkable accessibility also makes it an ideal undergraduate and graduate teaching text.
Luibhéid's lucid Introduction serves to present important historical and theoretical considerations regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and how they have determined and affected the possibilities and experience of migration to the United States. As she mentions, queer migration was explicitly banned between 1917 and 1990, and the more-recent implementation of policies such as the exclusion of HIV-positive individuals (and the lack of recognition of same-sex marriages) continues to pose challenges for current-day migrants. Latin Americanists will be especially interested in the contributions by Alisa Solomon, Timothy J. Randazzo, Lionel Cantú (with Eithne Luibhéid and Alexandra Minna Stern), Susana Peña, and Horacio Roque-Ramírez, although the essays by Siobhan B. Somerville, Erica Rand, and Martin F. Manalansan IV also offer quite fascinating insights into the experience of people of color in the United States and into transnational queer identity formations.
Solomon's essay ("Trans/Migrant: Christina Madrazo's All-American Story") chronicles the harrowing experiences faced by a male-to-female trans woman from Mexico who was raped while detained at the Krome Detention Center in Miami, and the enormous legal travails she has had to go through in her attempts to gain justice and be able to stay in the United States. Randazzo's contribution ("Social and Legal Barriers: Sexual Orientation and Asylum in the United States") chronicles the history of asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation, noting that key legal/juridical decisions have come about precisely in cases dealing with Latin American gay migrants, such as the Cuban exile Armando Toboso-Alfonso and the Brazilian Marcelo Tenorio. Cantú's article ("Well-Founded Fear: Political Asylum and the Boundaries of Sexual Identity in the U.S.-Mexico Borderland") is more of a summary, [End Page 671] given his unfortunate untimely death; he focuses on the politically and psychologically detrimental effects of having to portray home countries (such as Mexico) in colonialist, negative terms in order to gain asylum. Susana Peña's stunning essay ("Visibility and Silence: Mariel and Cuban American Gay Male Experience and Representation") is a rigorously researched and subtly argued piece about the impact of effeminate gay male migrants who left Cuba in 1980 through the port of Mariel, who totally transformed gay and Cuban culture in Miami. Finally, in his chapter, "Claiming Queer Cultural Citizenship: Gay Latino (Im)Migrant Acts in San Francisco," Roque-Ramírez offers a careful discussion of two little known cultural productions—a Central American-focused play entitled El corazón nunca me ha mentido and a Mexican film called Del otro lado—demonstrating the significance of both for their authors and communities in California who engaged these as works exploring gender, sexuality, ethnicity, national belonging, and...