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
http://www.kathrynboydbatstone.com/

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.

Watch Hardcore Tejanas at UCLA 2016

Incredible reading with some hardcore Tejanas!

(*Find me at 39 minutes!)

Published on Apr 22, 2016

March 31, 2016

The CSRC was pleased to welcome Inés Hernández-Avila and Norma Elia Cantú, the editors of “Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art” (University of Texas Press, 2016) for selected readings by contributing poets Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Inés Hernández-Avila, Norma Elia Cantú, Anel I. Flores, Emmy Pérez, Maria Herrera Sobek, and Juanita Luna-Lawhn.

This event was co-sponsored by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, LGBT Studies Program, and the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies.

To learn more about the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, please visit: http://www.chicano.ucla.edu

for National Poetry Month 2016

Nightmare

a response to the US saying, count sheep when you can’t sleep

By Anel Flores

it’s late

I don’t know

where you got the idea

you were invited to this party

but

you tangled us up

in your shadowy breath

the smell of hot beer

you talked into my ear

your red eyes

your smile sly

as you look out to the side

like you looked at her

when you took her home

drunker than you were

you said

to the table of butches

they didn’t laugh as deep as you

they didn’t laugh at all

but you slapped her on the shoulder

expected us to cheer you on

the gall

come on dude

you said

who the fuck are you

you’re talking to the wrong man

I thought

my skin crawled

you laughed loud enough for everyone

she didn’t laugh at all

my chest fluffed

my neck got hot

I pushed down on my feet

to stand up

but

everything came back

the smell that came from his open pants

the sweat

the shadow my body kneeled in

the way my head screamed sin

when he told me to open up

“o vas a quedar aquí, en mexico conmigo.”

in the desert I’m in

my soul folded

then broke

accepted him

in my mouth

imagined my lips

thorned like mami’s rosas

and cut in him

imagined drinking a coca cola

next to a christmas tree

a woman in a business suit

smoking a thin

and a blond

mom

since I never had one

to begin

I thought

and thought

of nice things

of dreams

where there is water to drink

books to read

all I could do was believe

Until you slapped my back

and it all came back

in a different package

the smell

that nasty fucking smell

my throat gagging

my tongue growing into a knife

my feet on fire

my chest blowing up

soul unfolding

and I laughed in your face

and spit

this isn’t a tiny bit of what it feels like to be treated like shit

I said

now pick up your pants

before I cut off your fucking dick

your story makes us sick

we don’t give a shit

now tell me

where is this one

woman you tell of

from your drunken nights

we have a show for her delight

for some it may be fright

hold on tight

close your mouth

damn your breath

get down

I’m gonna turn out the light

goodnight

good

night

sleep tight

good night

 

 

Credit:

This City is a Poem. April 23, 2016. (http://sanantoniopoetics.tumblr.com/post/143282370909/nightmare)

Soltera Mami Finds Mami at Tejana Dyke Bar

Last Call, an excerpt from Empanada: a lesbiana story en probaditas

RELEASE DATE: SEPT. 16, 2011

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  three 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. I 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 in the air was the same.  Hats and tight jeans were dancing cheek to cheek just the same.

Tejana dyke night at the barbrought me the closest to feeling like all of me: lesbian and chicana.  But after a long night, I always drove back to my apartment alone, crying the way I cried when I backed out of your driveway for the last time, leaving home.  You found out my lips kissed your friend’s daughter’s lips from a phone call.  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 at my home, my bar.  You weren’t wearing what I imagined you’d be wearing.  I was used to seeing you 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 picudos and a pressed shirt.  Do you remember when you used to take me to your friend’s baby showers and barbeques? 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 I 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 accordion 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, mamí.   I go to the Silver Dollar Bar 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, “Here, I do what I couldn’t do at Ninfa’s wedding last summer when 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, 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 panzita rolled into a perfect bolillo, and the grace of your feet across the dance floor, built your austere body into a more mesmerizing woman who could soar like a bird.  I pressed my hand firmly against your back and kept dancing until Ruby yelled out, “last call.” 

© Anel I. Flores 2011, All Rights Reserved

10 Things Queer Tejana Mamís Do!

Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

1. Selects a Selena baby blanket, over bunnies or noah’s ark. 2. Takes baby shopping at the mall with all her Jota family! 3.  Quenches baby’s thirst with BIG RED! 4.  Inspires mustaches and sombreros. 5. Performs a baby costume … Continue reading

Lovesong

Adele – Lovesong (Live)

I used to be awakened by my Mami’s high heels strutting down the house at 5:30 every weekday morning, accompanied by the background rhythm of our bubbling and groaning percolator.  Little did I know my own daughters would years later indentify with my bird chirping iphone alarm at the exact same time in the morning, the shuffling of my chanklas trying to find the right foot in the dark, and the same bubbling and groaning of the percolator. 

On weekends in the 70’s, I woke to Abba and Barbara Streisand, and in the 80’s, the spill over of the 70’s with a mix up of Pimpinela, Ana Gabriel, Juan Gabriel and Dyango. After the one worst morning I have had in my 35 years of living, I have since missed the sounds of my Mami’s heels crossing the house and music in the mornings.  It was my senior year in High School and I had been caught with another girl. Mami found out and after a few flying objects from her vanity towards the doorway I stood in, a thousand tears and chopped up conversations of my wondering future, she stopped getting out of bed.  I left home and found another bed, and another, and another, and another, until I ironically bought one of my own at a hotel mattress sale.

The box-spring and mattress were $50 but I think they might have given me two very hard box-springs. Still, when I brought my bed home, where I lived alone and set it up, I felt a feeling of accomplishment and self-comfort.  My best friend Monica gave me a set of super-soft gray sheets her mother sent from out of town one Christmas and they put me to sleep each night, slightly crooked and stiff but to sleep.  My sleeping problems came when I started to wake up in my single-person home to the sound of my Mami’s heels across my hardwood floor at 5:30 am, like her after nights of being out at the clubs.  I didn’t fly out of bed in a panic like I probably should have, but instead enjoyed her ghost heels and even sometimes the ghost bubbling and groaning of the percolator. 

She wasn’t physically in my home back then, but somehow, I invited her here on mornings to remind me that I was “home again,” and again, and again (“Lovesong” by the Cure).

Baby K and Big J inherited my bargain bed, now sealed in two mattress pads and a two inch eggshell foam for comfort.  Erika and I have a bed of our own. Mami and I have since become very close (Thanks to Erika’s Mami powers! (Future blog!) We still listen to Abba, Barbara Streisand,Pimpinela, Ana Gabriel, Juan Gabriel andDyango on weekend mornings, with the youthful addition of Bebe and Nicki Minage. And now, I am a mom of my own. Today the girls are with their father and I woke up to her heels, before my bird chirping alarm, to the familiar pang in my chest of missing her, but today I missed our girls and I missed my Mami.  After starting the coffee, I sat down to write this.

A little Lovesong for Baby K, Big J, Erika and my Mami, originally by the Cure and beautifully sung by Adele. (video by TheYellowPhoenix)

La Nueva York Quinceañera: the Story

When I signed up to teach in San Antonio’s primarily Chicano, inner-city high schools, I didn’t know that part of my teaching responsibilities would involve sponsoring my students’ Quinceñearas every month! Being a sponsor, or Madrina, at their Sweet 15 celebration meant that my name would be included on the opalescent, faux-wedding invitation as long as I financially sponsored some part of the Sweet 15 fiesta. Among the list of things I had to choose from, I learned that being the Madrina de los Zapatos was going to be the most my modest teacher salary could offer. Buying the debutant a pair of $20 Payless pumps, which promised to never see the light of day under the fifteen year-old girl’s oversized faux-wedding dress was my gift to each student who begged me to be their Madrina.

In Adriana Lopez’s anthology, Fifteen Candles, she says , “It doesn’t matter whether you were the only Latino family in town or if your neighborhood grocery had a fully stocked Goya food section, if you lived in the States, a quinceañera party affirmed your Latinoness.”

When I signed up to be an Amma (the maternal title our daughters use for me) one of our girls was freshly 14 and ready for a Quinceñera of her own. Big J stocked her bookshelf with Quinceañeara magazines, a full color scheme of what her 14 Damas (girls) and 14Chambelanes (boys) would wear in the royal court, and even had downloaded on her ipod the Salsa-Merengue-Cumbia-Hip Hop-Reggaeton Melody she planned to dance to. Baby K, who had five years to plan, was also learning what was to come for her Sweet 15. Our weekends were filled with visiting the Pulga (Mexican Flea-Market) in search for the perfect color of yellow taffeta Dama Dresses and Chambelan bow-ties, vests and cumber-buns. Also, we rummaged through various puestos where Mexican vendors sold varieties of home-made pastel-colored centerpieces mounted on mirrors, made of lace, glitter, plastic flowers glistening with acrylic water droplets on their petals, and obnoxiously sequined tiaras. Not only were we looking at purchasing Big J’s Payless pumps but Erika and I were about to embark on planning what started to feel like a mini-wedding! Our opinions of the Quinceañera started to evolve into something else as our wallets began to look smaller and and so did our budgets for the upcoming year. “Quincelandia” might not be all it was cracked up to be. (Adriana Lopez).

One evening, I told Big J that according to tradition, “the Quince rite of passage means you will be ready for motherhood!”  The look on her face was priceless as her beautiful brown eyes almost popped out her her head.  Her opinion of the traditionalQuinceañera quickly changed. In as far as her eyes could see, her future was a college dorm room and vacations around the world. Big J was not ready to be a mother and I was barely just becoming one after 30! Our non-traditional Lesbian home would soon be creating a new Quince tradition.

 

After a few family platicas, Erika, Big J, Baby K and I decided that La Quinceañera would trade her over-puffed dress and pastel pumps for a visit to New York City and most importantly the New York Public Library, which I told her had one of the largest book collections in the whole world. Big J reads almost two novels a week and loves all things antique and old. The quiet and dimly lit elegance of the NYPL would replace the elegance she once felt would be present at her “traditional” Quinceañera.

It is true that as a Lesbiana Amma and Mamì, we are creating our own family traditions and rites of passages. Instead of getting pregnant with a baby at 15, I can definitely say that Big J became impregnated with a larger view of the world and its opportunities available to her. Not only did we go to the breathtaking shelves of the NYPL, we ate cheesecake each night in Little Italy, visited several bookstores, NYU, CUNY, the Museum of Modern Art , and went ice skating in Central Park, but we did it all for as little as the price of renting out a dance hall on the Southside of San Anto!

On our last evening in New York City, Big J walked about 30 paces ahead of us down the escalator into the Metro station.  I saw in her step a heavier stance, in her shoulders a higher posture, and in her movement a beautiful grace. WIthout our guidance, she confidently boarded the train and for a moment I imagined her walking down the church isle in the huge white dress she had her eye on when she was still planning the Quinceañera party.  The little mirage quickly dissolved and there she was again, a young woman in her trendy skinny jeans and converse walking down the isle of the world. We are happy with our new Quinceañera traditions and our lovely daughter.

Little K is planning her Quinceañera trip for 2014! Vacation!