The Barrio as well as its inhabitants have been stigmatized and stereotyped by outside communities. The two are often misunderstood and misrepresented. Inhabitants of the Barrio which are stereotyped more aggressively are the cholos of various Orange County Barrios. My research this semester will focus on Queer Cholo culture in La Naranja. Who are these individuals, and how do they balance their sexuality in the Barrio? Queer Chicanos experience discrimination from mainstream “white” society, in the Barrios, and also within the LGBTQ community as well.
Although some can’t fathom the idea of two cholos together, it seems quite fitting there would be a genre for the Queer Cholo. Queer people are just as diverse as straight people. Queer implies a politic; a consciousness. It not only refers to sexuality, but challenges all dominant hetero-normative models. Not all LGBT people identify as Queer, just like not all Mexican peoples identify as Chican@. Cholo in our culture is associated with being in a gang/clica, up to no good. The palabra “Cholo” has its roots as a derogatory term used in the colonial Americas in the Spanish Caste paintings. The Child of a Mestizo and of an Amerindian was labeled “Cholo”. Barrios are the results of colonization carried through genetic memory.
The Barrio is the sacred milpa where seeds of culture are planted and where they blossom into the cornstalks of resistance. It has traditionally been a space and place of cultural safety where Chican@ communities have been able to flourish by maintaining tradition and creating new avenues to express their cultural heritage. A barrio exists in time and space-not only physical, but mentally and spiritually as well. The Barrio then has been a foundation where tradition is retained and maintained, where family is valued, patriarchy is honored, and gender roles fixed. But who exactly is part of the “community”? Very rarely does one pause to think that the Barrio is inhabited by Queer individuals who take part in everyday life of the neighborhood-some involved in local clicas, where sexualities often lay hidden.