In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio

Latino/a Sexuality and the Heteronormative

In his novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz examines Latino identities and sexuality, and the ways in which both are affected and informed by violence. This violence is enacted through institutions like the state, through representation and misrepresentation, and by the very nature of sex and sexuality. Díaz gives an analysis of identity and sexuality, pointing to the way in which it is not only formed and generated by oneself, but also put on and impressed, through violence or with violent repercussions.

Reinaldo Arenas’s autobiography Before Night Falls conveys similar themes as Díaz’s novel about the way in which sexuality is policed through violence from the state--particularly in the form of dictatorships. Arenas depicts life in Cuba at the time of Castro, discussing how Castro, and the state, presented homosexuality as evidence of being unpatriotic and against nationalism, as well as grounds for torture and imprisonment. Many of the men who engage in homosexual acts are not homosexual themselves, and it is in fact such policing that causes more sex acts to occur. This environment of violence and sexuality, then, also carries over to all other aspects of life. Similarly, Díaz discusses the way...

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