Archive for Thea Leticia

Beautiful

When do I feel beautiful?

I am beautiful when I am dressed to the nines, ready for a night on the town. When my makeup is glamorous, my outfit is scandalous, my heels precarious, and my attitude glorious. When I’m ready to dance and flirt and party.

I am beautiful when I am with my friends, laughing, scheming, catching up, coming up with ways to change the world and live in the ways that matter to us.

I am beautiful when I am covered in spit up from a beautiful baby in my life.

I am beautiful when I am sitting cross legged on the floor telling a story–or better yet, listening with genuine attention to a story being told to me by a little one.

I am beautiful when I am working with youth, laughing, teaching, learning, listening and enjoying their energy.

I am beautiful when I am moved to tears: by beauty, by suffering, by passion.

I am beautiful when I give of myself, when I am able to bless others.

I am beautiful when I stand firm for what I believe in. Regardless of who is standing with me.

I am beautiful when my voice is raised in song, when I share music and make music.

I am beautiful when I stand naked before my lover.

I am beautiful when I am painting, absorbed in the whirlwind of color coming to shape before me. And I am beautiful when one of the children in my life join me in creating.

I am beautiful when I am dreaming. Asleep or awake, unseen or admired.

I am beautiful when I am in nature, when I swim in the ocean, when I hike through the woods, when I play in the snow, when I walk on the shore, when I try to catch a wave and am pummeled by the waves… beautiful.

I am beautiful when I am learning, thinking, pondering, questioning, debating. My mind is a beautiful thing.

I am beautiful when I am lonely and tired and sad.

I am beautiful when I am in the kitchen, creating meals for people I love.

Beautiful first thing in the morning when I embrace a new day with messy hair, beautiful when I am sick, beautiful in my rattiest jammies, or in my most gorgeous gown. Beautiful when I am smelling flowers, beautiful when I am scrubbing floors, when I am folding clothes, beautiful when I least realize it and beautiful when I am fully aware.

I am blessed to know how beautiful I am and blessed in my freedom to enjoy the beauty in everything around me. I am blessed to know my own beauty regardless of who is around to see it, and I am blessed to have those in my life who do see my beauty and celebrate it.

I walk in beauty daily and I am blessed for it.

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Se hizo luz

Ya no busco la luz de tus ojos

para que alumbre mis caminos

ni la luz de la certeza de amores pasados, de caminos trazados, de suenos a destiempo

La luz emana de mi piel cobriza

La luz emana de mis dedos agiles

La luz emana de mi espiritu guerrero

de un poema desobediente y fugaz

del baile de sonidos sobre mi lengua

Se hizo luz.
Me hice luz.

Long Beach Rally November 15th: One Latina’s Voice

The Long Beach Wed-In and Rally was a great success. I was not able to stay till the end due to another commitment with the South Coast Chorale to sing at the Well’s Hospice Memorial Service, but what I saw was empowering, well attended, and entirely encouraging.

My message was well received and I’ve been asked to share my message so, here it is, minus the energy of the crowd, the embellishing, the cheering, the righteous response, but nonetheless my truth which I was blessed to share today:

“Like all of you I was wounded by the passing of Proposition 8. I am hurt by it.

As a Queer Femme I am hurt by the fact that voters in the State of California have chosen to take away my civil rights–OUR civil rights. I’m hurt by the suggestion that my rights are debatable, expendable and not in fact INALIENABLE.

As a Latina I am hurt by some of what I’ve heard in the LGBTQ community. It hurts me to hear that as a person of color my membership in the Queer community is suspect. I’ve heard a lot of anger toward people of color, specifically African Americans and Latinos. I’ve heard blame, saying that we were responsible for the passing of Prop 8. Not only is that statistically inaccurate–if anything we helped close the gap, from 22% in 2000 to less than 4% this time. Not only is it inaccurate but it is divisive. It denies the diversity of the LGBTQ community. It denies our allies. And it puts us in the position of US versus THEM when many of us are both us AND them.

As a Latina, si cuento. I am an integral part of the community. We all are. All of my communities. I am not the other. We are one.

It hurts me to hear intolerance directed from my people to my people.

I honor the pain we are all feeling but I see it as an invitation to change.
I see it as a wake up call to our community that is bigger than Prop 8. That speaks to justice and community and inclusion.

We have an opportunity to continue to organize and advocate for change.
An opportunity to look at our comunidad and make sure that No Queer is Left Behind.
To ensure that the legal rights we have already gained are being upheld:
the laws that protect us from discrimination in the workplace
laws that protect youth in schools from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
We need to KNOW our rights and make sure we are protecting ALL of our freedoms.

And we can learn from our history. Stonewall has been brought by many people, I see signs and images commemorating our past. Let’s not forget who started the movement: it was butch women, queens, transgendered people, people of color and white people. United. Let’s stand and recognize.

We have an opportunity to build unity and inclusion. To see not only how can we get support from our potential allies but how can we BE allies to other disenfranchised communities.

A few things have been proven through our protests, vigils and marches in the state of California and now, nationwide:

We are a diverse and beautiful community. An amazing familia.
Our community includes all ages, races and ethnicities, socioeconomic class, religions, abilities.

We are a powerful community. And amazing familia.
We are a resilient community.
We will not be silenced. We will not be overlooked. We will not settle for less than igualdad. Equality.

We can share the energy and see that every issue is a lesbian issue, is a bisexual issue, is a gay issue, is a transgendered issue, is a queer issue
Immigration reform and rights is our issue
Homelessness is a queer issue
Drug addiction is a queer issue
Affordable housing is our issue
Education is our isse
Racism is our issue
We are everywhere

We are being called to action. Prop 8 is one piece of the picture and we will stand firm, we SHALL overcome.
And we can use this to build stronger communities, to ensure that all members of our familia are included and honored.
And we can take this chance to build bridges with allies to eradicate bigotry, eradicate oppression, eradicate senseless hatred and division in ALL of our communities.
We can be agents of change
for equality
for peaceful vibrant communities
and for diversity.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE.”

We will not stand for injustice.”

From the heart…

I’ll be speaking at the Marriage Equality Peace Rally and Wed-In tomorrow in Long Beach (flyer below). I spoke at the rally last week and I’m not yet ready to process that. So now I’m doing preemptive processing. When I was invited to speak I asked what focus would be best for the event given the balance of speakers.

When I helped with organization for last week’s protest I expressed my concern over the divisive and racist rhetoric circulating in the community over how poc voters caused prop 8 to win. Not only is this untrue but I’m hearing really distressing comments. Really ugly assumptions. And a lot of misunderstanding. I was invested in ensuring that the event last week was able to unite and heal and so I spoke to that effect.

So, back to the answer to my question, what should I speak about. I was asked to speak from the heart and asked to address my concerns as a person of color.

I agreed to do this knowing that I am going to this protest alone.
I agreed to do this knowing that I am going to talk about some difficult painful and ugly issues and that in doing so I will be baring my soul, the deepest realest parts of me, exposed for the crowd.
I agreed to do this knowing that I have been called to do so, that I have a responsibility to do so, that I have an opportunity and I have to honor it. I must honor my commitments, my integrity, my values, my beliefs.
I agreed to do this with an instant knot in my stomach knowing that it will be raw. And that I can do it.
From my heart.
De corazon.
Y si se me escapa una lagrima, ni modo.

Latina. Queer Femme. Not willing to be fragmented. Not willing to have my identities pitted against each other. No more. Nunca mas.

So, I’ll be representin’. Will you be there?

Marriage Equality Peace Rally and Wed-In

The Center Long Beach in coalition and solidarity with community leaders and activists will join cities all over America for the National Day of Support for California Marriage Equality.

This peaceful rally will take place this Saturday, November 15th, 10:30am-1:00pm, at Long Beach City Hall, in the courtyard area.

The event will include a current legal status update regarding Prop 8, what your marriage means now, as well words of hope from our interfaith and political communities.

WE ARE PLANNING A “WED-IN” (Wishing to End Discrimination & Inequality Now) AT THIS EVENT…wherein we will have a minister symbolically marry all those in attendance (LGBTQA) to the commitment of ensuring Marriage Equal Rights for all!!

Attire: We thought it would be fun for those in attendance to wear “wedding attire!” This is completely up to you (What do you all think?).

Additional info:

Parking: Parking is located in the City Hall parking structure on Broadway/Chestnut….also at the Pike parking on Shoreline/Chestnut (South of Ocean) and along Pine Ave.

Intent/Purpose: We ask all in attendance to remember that the underlying tone of our event is PEACE….This is not intended to be another protest but to unite in solidarity toward our common goal of Marriage Equality and community support through understanding.

Legal Compliance: Those in the Long Beach Police Department are our friends. We have been working closely with many of them regarding this event. It is important that we listen to their instructions and follow all laws.

Ingress/Egress: Make sure you enter and exit the premises in an orderly fashion. When the event is over at 1pm, it is important that you disperse in an orderly fashion. Please obey all traffic laws and do not obstruct traffic.

Safety: Please do not bring signs with sticks. Sticks are considered a weapon by law enforcement officials statewide and should not be brought to the rally.

This event was organized by community activists, leaders and workers from Prop. 8. They include:

The Center Long Beach; Elisa McConnehea, Police Chief’s Advisory Group; Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride; Human Dignity Program; Kevin O’Grady, ADL; Choices of Long Beach; LB Lambda Democratic Club; Rene Castro, CCEJ; Long Beach Nicherin Buddhist-Soka Gakai leaders; Robert Garcia; Justin Rudd; Diana Lejins, gigi Acevedo; Tom Crowe; Brian Frederick; Jordana Nichols; Cory Allen; Dr. Becky Kuhn; Kristen Sifers; Tim Campbell; John Pill; Thea Mateu; Jamie Hall; Jake Orlando; Rev. Sandra Olewine; Rev. Sunshine Daye; and Rev. Jane Galloway

This was also attended by the offices of Mayor Bob Foster and Council Member Tonia Reyes-Uranga

Also in attendance were Commanders Jay Johnson and Cynthia Renaud, and Sergeant Razo

For more information or to see the agenda for the event, go to http://www.centerlb.org

Expanding

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

Anais Nin


My life is expanding in the most delicious ways.

I have everything I need

Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder that I really do have everything I need in this moment.  Instead of worrying about what I don’t have, or what I’m gonna need, it’s good to have moments of gentle certainty that right now, all is well.

I have a place to live right now, a space to call home, a comfy bed, art by myself and others on my walls.  It is well.

I have friends I can call on when I’m hurting, when I’m scared, when I want to share life’s joys and sorrows.  Friends who call me just because they love me.  It is well.

And I have friends who look out for me, who buy me a meal just because, who send me job postings, who put in a good word, who pray for me.  It is well.

I have a much better relationship with family than I have in years.  I’m blessed.

I have groceries in the house.

I have a library card.  Yipee!

I am striving toward my goal of publishing more this year and making significant progress.

I am working toward acting on some major dreams I’ve had for many years and seeing the results.

I have cute shoes and people to go out with who admire them.

I have full bottles of acrylics, paintbrushes, and canvas.  And for desperate times, good ol’ coloring book and crayons.

I have new networks, new friends, and growing ties to not so new friends.

I walk down flower lined streets.

Even though my beaches may be closed and toxic right now, I can look at the ocean and smile.

I am enjoying my own company immensely.

I am setting down some roots and little by little, tentatively and sometimes timidly, increasing my wingspan.  It is well.

I have courage, passion, intelligence, beauty, dreams, energy, health, talent and I am creating for myself the life I want.  How much better does it get?!

I’m blessed and I celebrate that.  Right now, in this moment, I have everything I need.  Tomorrow will provide for itself.  I am striving and I am staying the course.

Craving the darkness: thoughts on straddling borderlands

Missing “home” is usually shorthand for a number of assumptions:

1. Home is singular, static, permanent

2. What is missed: usually people, food, a favorite shop, the smell in the air, the energy of the place

“Home” to me is a fluid concept.  The curse and the blessing of my early enculturation, my colonial roots, equally at home on either island, manhattan or boriken, not quite at home in one without the other.  Shifting between the epitome of urban, metropolitan, teeming, and the pristine pulchritude of beaches called virgin in the gringo’s travel brochure.  Just as I am equally at ease with either tongue, English or Spanish, but one never fully complete without the other.  Some things you just can’t say in English.  Some things take too long to express in Spanish.

When I have my cravings for what I usually call “home” that moving target that resists roots, fosters wings, and dreams return to, what I miss the most is unexpected.

I miss the dark.

I miss darkness so fiercely it makes my skin crawl if I think about it too much.

I miss unyielding, unrelenting, unapologetic dark draped nights.  I miss walking out my door at night and stepping into darkness so absolute I can barely find my hand in front of my face.  I miss looking up and falling into thousands (millions?) of stars.  I miss the brilliance of a half moon illuminating stark black.

Here the sky is never fully dark.  Urban living (and a delectable touch of smog) gives the sky a sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie yellow cast.  I marvel when I catch sight of an errant star, straining against the residual urban blaze to shine down on me.

And yet I fall in love daily with the violent blue skies, so blue it hurts my eyes, so blue I hold up a flower as an offering to the sky to see the contrasting spaces of blue between brilliant petals.

I miss rain.

On gloomy days I ache for the release of a summer’s storm.  I miss the sound of rain pounding on rooftops, miss the puddles, miss the explosion of color and light following a righteous storm.  I miss the compelling wetness, dancing in between drops, moist rivulets running down my brown skin.  I miss the birds dipping into puddles, preening and guzzling.  I miss the anticipation of rain, the buildup leading to the gradual satisfaction of pouring rain.

And, when I allow myself to think about it, I miss my mar caribe.  I miss the way it caresses me and holds me, so different from the pacific’s cool hold on my soul.  And yet now I know that I will never be free of the pacific, never be far from it.  I know that it is in my blood now and that, just as the atlantic, brighton beach in a blizzard, icy waves pounding uncertain shore, el mar caribe soothing warm lapping at my bronze flesh, witness to years of dreams, joys, pain, now my heart has also tasted pacific salt: cold shock of the oregon coast and stubborn insistence to make myself welcome, southern california beauty, kissed by the waves sevenfold welcoming me and claiming me.  Home expands as a concept within me.
“The past and present wilt–I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.” Walt Whitman (Song of Myself, #51)

and furthermore:

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”  Walt Whitman (Song of Myself, #51)

My multitudes straddle fronteras, cross unexplored borderlands, nestle into unexpected pockets of ‘home.’

Mi patria es solo una, but home I build as I go.  An odd amalgam of caribbean breezes, socal cumbia, nyc beats, parisian decadence, chesapeake stillness, rushing boise river murmurs, california expanses of birds of paradise, and those pretty purple flowers whose name I don’t even want to know.  I’d rather name them myself as they tumble down to carpet the ground I walk on, sweeten the air as I pass.  Hope flowers.  Esperanzas.  Suenos.  Ilusiones.  Alma vida corazon.  I name them as I walk beauty on beauty.

With so much radiance and light around me, it’s the stillness and darkness that I crave.

Talk to Santa Claus…

because!

my story was accepted for publication in Best Lesbian Erotica 2009 from Cleis Press, edited by Tristan Taormino.

It will be hitting the shelves around Thanksgiving, just in time for holiday naughtiness!

Children and community

I love children.  I love babies.  I love youth.

I’ve always been observant of the cultural differences in the value given to children and their place in community.

Where I come from children are part of the community and we are all responsible for loving them, protecting them, caring for them, educating them.  Where I come from (and I’m talking culture, not just geography) it’s okay to talk to a kid you don’t know or make funny faces at the baby in front of you at the checkout line.  You aren’t seen as a threat or a weirdo; just part of community.  And it’s so different from when I experience in Anglo culture.  I hate to resort to a problematic cliche like “it takes a village to raise a child,” but, well, it fits.  It’s okay to be affectionate with kids where I’m from: hugs and kisses are generously offered.  Kids are welcome at parties, no weird separation of adults and kids, no weird tiptoeing and hiding the beers, no perception of children as a burden.  Birthday parties for kids include the adults and are often loud in the best ways with music, drinking, dancing, dominoes, laughter.  And when the kids konk out the adults keep partying.  It’s normal to see a puppy pile of little ones on a designated bed or couch and anyone and everyone checks on them while festivities continue.  The idea of a party for children where adults aren’t welcome, or where they aren’t having a good time but are just hovering over the kids awkwardly is foreign.   Weddings, graduation parties, family bbqs, funerals, life events are all attended by community and community includes kids.  Kids are incorporated into activities and they are just another blessed fact of life.

Once a child enters into the mix the community shifts to welcome them, there are more eyes to watch them, more hands to guide them, more hearts to love them and keep them safe.  If a child is hurt, anyone of us will scoop him up.  If she is unsafe, any one of us will rush to rescue.  If he is bubbling with joy, every heart will smile.  As a member of the community, we all participate in their life.

Interactions with children has always been an area of culture shock for me, especially the walls put up around them that seem to say it’s not okay to love them if they aren’t yours.

I got to do some kitchen table organizing with friends recently and it warmed my heart to be there with three amazing, powerful, fierce women and two of their kids.  See, when women of color get together and there’s  kids in the mix there’s a dynamic that is usually different from anglo culture to me.  There’s a sense of community and freedom and an invitation to love.

As we plotted with a toddler and a three year old around, we were conscious of the kids and comfortable.  We were all at liberty to offer guidance, all entitled to a hug and a kiss, or a bop with a spiderman toy.  It gives me joy to work with a baby on my lap playing with my phone and chuckling his wizened toddler laugh.  It gives me joy to see the whirlwind of three year old energy playing with a butterfly net and a spderman figure around us, or belly laughing when Tita Thea ignores the fact that he’s pretending not to hear her goodbyes and scoops him up for a wiggly squishy hug.  All this while strategizing, planning, sharing dreams, anger, frustration, good food.  Kids weren’t a nuisance or a distraction.  They were part of the process.  They were part of the reason for doing the work.

I love the ways in which women of color so often come to community, how brown babies are passed around to be adored, and how we all care for them.  I love the easy ways in which we embrace their energy and the lack of apologies, no need to justify their presence.

I once taught an adult education course in Washington Heights.  The course was all Latinos and it was held on Saturdays for about 5 hours in a church.  The participants were motivated and invested.  When childcare was an issue I’d teach history with a baby on my lap drooling during our heated discussions.  There were older children who would come as well and they were always given a job, whether it be a five year old erasing the board, or a seven year old talking about something they had learned in school.  And in this learning community, everyone was valuable, the baby with his babas as much as the 60 year old woman sitting attentively in the front.

When I taught a Graduate course that was held on Saturdays I also had a child student, his parents were both there to learn English and the son would play in the halls, wander back in, hang out with me while the class worked, listen to their presentations, draw pictures on the board.  It was never a disruption, and we all accepted and welcomed him into our class.  Come to think of it, every class I’ve taught has been visited by little ones, some more than others, but always welcome.

One day soon(ish) I’ll have my own brown babies and I know they will have so many tios and tias to fuss over them; and primas and primos and to play with;  padrinos and madrinas to spoil them.  Comadres and compadres for me to turn to.  I know that my babies will have a place in community, a community to love them, see them, keep them safe because, well, that’s just how we roll.  And in the meantime, I feel fortunate to have beautiful babies who bless me.

Pasos

There are times when my footsteps fall heavily. There were dark times when I struggled to walk from my bed to the bathroom, felt like lead was flowing through my veins, angry heavy resentful painful numb hideous lead.

And there are times when I skip down life’s paths and stretch my arms out to embrace the sunshine on my upturned face.

And there are times like now when my steps are in between FUCK! and Yay! Syncopated rhythm of pain and hope, fear and confidence, loss and adventure. Ow! Ow! Ow! Blessed blessed. Ow fuck! Don’t wanna! Yay! What next!?!

Within the space of minutes I shift. And even that is okay. I’m still moving and there’s no stopping me now. I am looking at the world through new eyes. I am strong in new ways. I am capable and defiant in new ways. It’s my time.

I love this feeling of anticipation, this knowledge that amazing things and people and opportunities and love are coming into my life.

Mis pasos firmes marchan adelante.

I love the feeling of sand between my toes.

I love the feeling of hot pavement under my thin sandals.

I love the soaring grounded feeling of delicious high heels.

I love the way my steps trace dreams on the ground as I dance.

I love the way my body moves.

I love the certainty that my steps are taking me on great adventures.

As is often the case, a poem/song came to mind:

Caminante, son tus huellas

el camino, y nada más;

caminante, no hay camino,

se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino,

y al volver la vista atrás

se ve la senda que nunca

se ha de volver a pisar.

Caminante, no hay camino,

sino estelas en la mar.

~Antonio Machado

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