Aztlan In Our Hands

When the historic Univision building in downtown San Antonio came down in 2013, local artists were asked to paint one of their preserved doors. Behind me is the door I painted, which to me depicts life in San Antonio. Here La Virgencita shows us, in the reflection of her hands images of the land on both sides of the Rio Bravo/Grande. Both images are the same. This works shows us we are all living in the same world, at the same time, on both sides of the river, en la madre tierra. Y, La Virgen has worked this land and continues the work it, with her two hands, en Mexico, en Aztlan and San Antonio. This art piece now lives in the current Univision building. I still stand by its message that we are all of one people, one earth, one land, flowing together on both sides of the river, and we are all responsible for doing the work of keeping us all in harmony, with the work of our two hands.

Aztlan In Our Hands
Artwork by Anel I. Flores
Acrylic on Wood Door

Women’s Advocate of the Year 2018

Gracias to UTSA’s Women’s Studies Institute, for Awarding me Women’s Advocate of the Year. The first time I produced Empanada, with an all woman cast, crew and team, was on the UTSA stage during Women’s History Month. They have always done “work that matters,” and I commit to continuing to doing the same through my writing, art and activism. Thank you again, UTSA. It is an honor to be recognized by such a fine program of amazing people.

New York Foundation for the Arts Immigrant Artist Mentor Program 2018

nyfa immigrant mentor program

Thrilled to be chosen as a mentor with the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. I have been paired with Maria Linan, to offer her one-on-one support in the sustainability of her creativity.

Gracias to the New York Foundation for the Art (NYFA), the Ford Foundation, NALAC, Say Si and all other partnering organizations and collaborators.

About: Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program pairs immigrant artists working in all disciplines with artist mentors who provide one-on-one support for their mentee, guiding them to achieve specific goals and providing them with broader access to urban cultural centers through an exchange of ideas, resources and experiences.

NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program is the only known program of its kind in the United States, and has provided close to 200 NYC-based immigrants with mentorship, community, and exposure for their work since it was founded in 2007. The New York program includes sessions in Visual/Multidisciplinary Art, Performing and Literary Arts, and Social Practice.

Say What Now:

Panelists Anel Flores, Jamaal Alejandro, and organizers from SATX4 will break down the question, “What is making you ask . . . Say What Now?!” We’ll be talking social justice and how to hold onto hope. The event will also feature performances by, Dre Lavelle, Mr.Composition (Kevin Prince), Kinyo and Veronica Leno with closing remarks by Laura Thompson.

#Dream WeekSA

Laura Thompson, Dre Lavelle, Lu Vee, Kathryn Pearl, Anel Flores, Jamaal Alejandro Haffner & Franque Michele Bains
Writers Having their Say

It’s Not Okay: A Response to a Donald Trump Presidency

It’s Not Okay
A Response to a Donald Trump Presidency

I called my mom because I longed for the feeling of being a baby, a feeling of being held, a space to safely crumble and cry. And, like any sweet loving mami who raised me on fresh frijoles, beans and kindness she asked, “Are you okay?”

I said “no,” and wanted to tell her why. She interrupted me before I could elaborate or have any feelings.

She told me, “We need to pray mija. The virgencita, Jesucristo is there waiting for us to give this election up to them.”

“No, but mami, I am scared,” and, she continued, “I know, I know, that’s why our Lord wants you to go to him.”

I kept saying “I am scared. I am scared,” in my head. I wanted desperately for her to hear me, wanted her to just listen, like I wanted her to listen when I was scared twenty-three years ago, alone in my dorm, afraid because the student from Lubbock across the hall told me I was going to hell. But Mami stopped talking to me back then, after she found out I was gay.

I told her again, “Mami, I am scared of all the hate in the world right now,” and she interrupted, “Mijita, I am praying for our world, praying for the evil.” And, I remembered when I was told by praying people that I was evil for being gay, a disgrace, disgusting, committing mortal sin. Then I remembered that our soon to be vice president said those same words about me and all my LGBTQIA hermanas and hermanos, my brown, black and Muslim familia, my sisters, and my gente coming to the US for dreams of peace. Then I remembered my Mami is not the mean man I am afraid of.

She loves me, but somewhere in all the battles she had to fight, between being punished for speaking Spanish, degraded by her white teachers, segregation, Vietnam, her ovarian cancer, the Cold War, sexual assault from a superior, her lesbian daughter and the things she has packed away behind survival, somewhere she became so scared she stopped fighting. I reminded myself that my Mami has come a long way, gone through a lot, loves my wife, my daughters and me very much, so I tried again. “I am scared, Mami,” I said, and “and our babies are scared too. They are afraid, too.” I assumed my Mami would understand because she held my brother to her chest and promised to leave the country if he was called away to the Vietnam War. She was terrified and felt the way I feel today, so I tried again. “Mami, I am scared of Donald Trump and the people he is feuling,” I said, but something wouldn’t let her hear me, something wouldn’t let the fear in and she interrupted again before I could continue. “Mijita, we have to pray.”

I just wanted her to say she was going to come over, maybe make me caldo or sit with me, but she didn’t. I wanted her to say she was ready to fight for me, but she didn’t. The mocos broke up into my nose and I wanted to tell her how scared I was yesterday but she kept praying and telling me it would be okay. And, under my breath on the other side of the phone I said, “But I am scared Mami. I was scared to hold Erika’s hand at the grocery store, yesterday, Mami, just getting out of the car.” And, I wanted to tell her that I let go of my wife’s hand in the parking lot when a huge pickup truck pulled up in front of us because I imagined someone jumping out to beat us, like I had seen done before years ago to a transgender woman. I wanted to cry and release my fears, but she didn’t let me speak. She told me again, “Mija, it will be okay,” and started to say goodbye. “Tell Erika and the girls I love them, mija,” and I wanted her to stay on the phone so I could tell her that I was even afraid to go to the bathroom alone at the grocery store, afraid someone would tell me I couldn’t go to the women’s bathroom, but she didn’t hear me. She told me it would be okay.

Then, I hopped on another call with a family member and said I was scared, hoping to be heard, hoping for a soft place to land, but again it didn’t happen.“I know, I know it’s hard Anel, but we are going to be okay.”

It was not okay when the old white man told my precious, sacred wife, “Let me take you both home to feel what a real dick feels like.”

It was not okay when the male coach told me at a pep rally he wanted to “rip the principal’s red leather pants off and fuck her in the custodial closet.”

It was not okay when my young, gay student was tormented by groups of boys near the library over and over until one day he never returned to school. Only to hear he died in the bathroom of causes we were never told, but a rope burn around his neck.

It was not okay the day we realized there needed to be a suicide hotline just for LGBTQIA kids.

It was not okay when my wife’s ex-husband found it easy and fail-proof to use our racist and homophobic laws to threaten my wife with the custody of their children and deportation.

It was not okay when an adult man dragged my thirteen-year-old body to the beach, jammed his hand into my pants and my face into his. And it wasn’t okay the three other times this same thing happened, at 6, 11 and 16.

It was not okay when our friend’s daughter’s breasts are being poked at in hallways and a football player is telling her she has to send naked pics of her body or else he will spread rumors about her.

It was not okay when our daughter’s friend was raped in her dorm room by a swimmer at a Texas University and he got a slap on the hand. She dropped out of school because she was pregnant.

It was not okay when I held my father’s gun to my head because I believed my body was fat, dirty and ugly, and my soul was not worthy of living.


It is not okay that when you started reading this a woman was sexually assaulted in america and since then, two more, and before you are done at least one more will be raped, grabbed, penetrated, beat against their will or hit.

It is not okay, so do not tell me it is.
I am scared.
I have a right to be.
And, I am not going to just pray.
I’m going to yell right back at the man who comes at me next time.
I am going to gather people together so we can walk hand in hand.
I am going to give my gente a safe place to land in our home.
I am going to write our truths until someone listens.
I am going to walk with you to your car so no one can lay a hand on you.
I am going to be a phone call away when you want to tell me how scared you are.

When the moon is up, our mijas are sleep and sound,
and all the hours of work my body can take for that day are out,
I’ll pray.

This is not okay.
If you don’t believe me, read this again.

#dumptrump #antitrump #nevertrump #imwithher #lgbtcontratrump #LesbianAgainstTrump #LatinaContraTrump #lovetrumpshate #trumpprotest

WATCH: Lesbiana Artist Anel Flores Reflects on Orlando Shootings

Lesbiana Artist Anel Flores Reflects on Orlando Shooting from Rivard Report on Vimeo.

Video by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Latino Artists Tell ‘Nuestra Historia

Latino Artists Tell ‘Nuestra Historia’

Eight different stories were told to an intimate group at the Central Library Thursday night, but a collective story of struggle for space, freedom through art, and perseverance was told. In the section of the library that will soon be known as the Latino Studies Collection Space, dozens listened to local and national Latino artists, scholars, activists, educators, […]

Photo Credit: by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

A Tejana Lesbiana Daydream, for My Mami on Dia de las Madres

When I left home at 17, I searched tirelessly to find a home that combined my Tejana upbringing of musica, asadas, cervezas and dancing with my lesbian world which at the time looked more like white girls in khaki cargos singing love songs to Melissa Etheridge. I longed to connect the warmth of the familia I once celebrated with to my lesbian world, because they were absent during this time and not supportive of my coming out. I drank myself to numbness on most nights, and searched and searched for the feeling of family everywhere.  Finally, in the corner of a bar, one day a week, on San Antonio’s gay drag, within the walls of Petticoat Junction on Main St, I found a space where I could be tejana and lesbiana for the first time. It was 1995-2000 and it was in this bar that I daydreamed I would one day dance with my mother there, tenderly, the way we danced to cumbias and romancias in the kitchen. I learned how to love from her. I learned how to bidi bidi bom bom and cumbia in her arms. But, I knew during that time it would be years and years until we danced together again. “The Next Song” is my daydream of meeting my first love, my mami, in the first place where I felt complete, in the Tejana lesbian bar on Main St one night a week.

This piece is dedicated to my Mami who has worked very hard to make sure I have everything I need and who has taught me to stand up for my convictions- even if we don’t agree on everything.  And to all mujeres who lose thier mami when they come out, she will come around one day.

The Next Song

Ruby probably served me one too many drinks because she knew my garage apartment was one block south of here, and I’d more than likely stick with them after closing for our usual 3:00 am Mr. Taco feast.

I barely saw you across the room, but in the corner of that dimly lit bar the jeweled details of your tejana shirt reflected off the three-colored light fixture pointing towards the dance floor. What were you doing there? Wasn’t it too late for you to be away from home? The smell of forty-year-old throw up should have been enough to keep you out of this old bar.

It always felt like I was standing under the exit sign at one of those weddings in a Catholic school gym, like the one your prima’s daughter threw just recently in San Benito. It smelled the same there, like sweat, old cigarettes and beer mixed together. The music was the same, and the color and density of the fog machine smoke in the air was the same. Except here, women were dressed like the viejos from the wedding, in black tejano hats and tight jeans. And instead of giving me asco, these Tejanos put the aaaaaaa in Tejana when I stared at their tipping hips moving back and forth across the dance floor with another Tejana in their hands.

Tejana dyke night at the bar brought me the closest to feeling like all of me: lesbian, Chicana and Tejana. But after each long night, I always drove back to my apartment alone, with the same knot in my throat I had when I backed out of your driveway for the last time, leaving home three weeks after my seventeenth birthday. You found out from a phone call my lips kissed your friend’s daughter’s lips. You said I could spend the night over there to study. And, we were studying at first, but then we kissed and her mom walked in. After you hung up the phone the next morning, you looked through me like I wasn’t there. I got the hint and got myself out of there, out the backdoor, out of the driveway and to the bar.

In between drinks, I saw you out of bed and in my home, my bar. You weren’t wearing what I imagined you’d be wearing. I was used to seeing you dressed in Sunday, church spring colors and flowy material. At the bar that night, you went beyond my expectations by not only joining me here but by also dressing the part in dark jeans, botas picudas and a pressed shirt. Do you remember when you used to take me to your friend’s baby showers and barbecues? I would dress in pastel colors and linen to please you. I guess you realized how important it was to return the favor. Thank you.

At the tejana bar it was hard to see the details of your shape because of the thick smoke soaked air, but it was easy to hear your rumbling heartbeat because it pumped at the same speed and volume as mine, through the jumbled wiry ritmo of the dj jams.

Pairs of girls, one small and round, the other tall and slim, in one another’s arms stepped on, passed you with one step, then another, brushed briskly against the floor, a third step, and again, over and over. Neither you nor I tired of watching the women dance around the floor in a large circle, following the shuffle of one another’s feet. While I wished the women were you and me dancing in the kitchen like we used to, you were mesmerized by the newness of two mujeres. I understood your curiosity.

I raised my short glass of undressed Tres Hermanas tequila, took a slow sip and choked at the sight of a girly-girl tejana ass crookedly swing by, all alone. If you wouldn’t have been there I’d chase after her myself, but that night you were the one I had my eye on.

I would’ve enjoyed you much better closer on the stool beside me. Instead, I talked to you telepathically, tapping my leg to the beat, but you didn’t get the hint and come over. With your face behind the smoke I tried to pick out your heartbeat between Selena’s Techno Cumbia,” audio-mixed chords, soft steps and smooth glides of the dancers parading in front of me, but I picked up my own heartbeat instead, beating faster than the song and the steps, faster than both rhythms combined. The overlapping of dancers covered you. My right palm was sweating and my left one could hardly hold my drink. I tried to see you, squinted my eyes, bobbed my head around between the small space of their legs or under their arm during a turn, but only was able to make out the milky white of your cheekbone, high and thin. Even when I thought I could see you, you were not there and it became hard to believe the smoke was the only thing blocking my view to you. Did you have any idea I was there? I saw you fan the landscape with your eyes, searching. That bar was the last place I wanted to be seen by you, Mami. I came to the Petticoat Junction on Main. St. to combine my worlds, my worlds of Tejana and Lesbiana. I imagined what I would say if I could go up to you, “It’s just like Ninfa’s wedding last summer! Remember, you watched me closely to make sure I didn’t reveal any hints of my girlfriend and gay friends back home? Why were you in the corner of this bar trying to combine the two worlds, like I do?

The dance floor spread under us. “Do you want to dance?” You gave me your hand. The other toddling dancers circled around us, amazed at our kitchen-mastered moves. My chest pressed forward, the way Papi normally held you, and my cheek leaned against yours. Your dark red, wide smile chilled and warmed me. Mouths hung open around us. The sharp women with their hair cut short on the sides and long in the back let go of their women, and held onto their gold and silver buckles hoping you’d please them next with your hand. Your face of many years and legs that have walked and kicked up many miles stirred everyone, including me. The simplicity of your stance, the not so simple lines of your open child bearing hips, your pancita rolled into a perfect bolillo, and the grace of your feet across the dance floor, built your austere body into a bronze statue. I pressed my hand firmly against your back and kept dancing until Ruby yelled, “last call.”

An excerpt from my book, Empanada: a Lesbiana Story en Probaditas.  

To purchase the book, go to: Korima Press

Publisher Credit:

Flores, Anel. “The Last Song.” Empanada. San Francisco / Austin: Korima & Evelyn Street Press, 2012.