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Homeboy Masculinity

Abstract and Keywords

Like Frantz Fanon, Anne McClintock, R. W. Connell, María Lugones, Elizabeth Martínez, and other scholars of postcoloniality/decoloniality, I agree that the concrete historical conditions of colonization as constituting and constitutive of heteropatriarchy set the parameters of masculinity for men of color and subsequent specific expressions of cultural nationalism and masculinity for Chicano men. These contexts, in fact, are best described by María Lugones as part of the modern/colonial gender system. Still, any investigation of gender/masculinity must simultaneously attend to other interlocking and intersecting systems of oppression and identity formation like racism and class, which remain dynamically constituted by other facets of identity like sexuality. “Homeboy Masculinity,” in these contexts, then, indicates a situational and historically specific type of masculinity that remains influenced by the complexity of the modern/colonial gender system. This particular type of masculinity, as such, emerges in various practices and expressions of masculinity in Chicana/o barrios across the United States but especially in the American Southwest and is particularly exemplified by barrios in East Los Angeles, the west side of San Antonio, and El Paso, among others. Homeboy masculinity also emerges in primary and secondary cultural texts whose locus of expression and whose epistemological formation is the Chicana/o barrio.

In this respect, the barrio, as the site of the production of this type of masculinity and epistemological formation, must consequently be understood as a byproduct of the dialectical processes of “barrioization” and the barriological. Indeed, Raúl Homero Villa argues that barriology is a critical and witty challenge to knowledge produced in the predominantly white institutions of academe and in dominant ideological apparatuses like the mainstream media that is made by offering a subaltern knowledge produced from within the barrio and by barrio residents. Villa, in Barrio-Logos: Space and Place in Urban Chicano Literature and Culture, succinctly distinguishes between the “socially deforming” processes of barrioization and the “culturally affirming” processes of barriology in describing this dialectical model for understanding the social and material construction of the barrio; this model, as a result, is integral to understanding homeboy masculinity

In addition, homeboys, as culturally and historically specific subjects, also form part of a legacy of Mexican and Chicana/o figures that have worked to set the parameters for Mexicano/Chicano masculinity and femininity. Therefore, while La Malinche, La Virgen, and La Llorona function to structure Chicana femininity, they also operate as an implicit boundary zone for the construction of Mexicano/Chicano masculinity, as Gloria E. Anzaldúa notes in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Octavio Paz and Tomas Almaguer, like Anzaldúa, note the sociohistorical and linguistic relationships between these figures and their gender/sexual correlations in various cultural expressions and practices in the community. Paz and Almaguer, in discussing one specific role of la chingada as La Malinche in the Mexican/Chicano imaginations, describe the power politics involved in being los hijos de la chingada and how this framework produces a homophobia that stems from the onset of conquest. They also note how the framework of “being the fucked one” produces a type of Mexican “masculine homosexuality” that is tolerated among Mexicans alongside of such homophobia. These scholars, as a result, point to the multifaceted ways in which these archetypal historical, religious, and cultural figures structure both Chicana femininity and Chicano masculinity.

Moreover, the figures of the Aztec warrior, Hernan Cortes as a model of the conquistador, the revolutionary figures of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, el pelado as a manifestation of working class “noble” masculinity, and el pachuco (later, the homeboy) collectively form an explicit historical and ideological apparatus that structures Mexican/Chicano masculinity. In many ways, these culturally and historically significant figures, as embodiments of Mexican and Chicano masculinity, can also be understood as part of complex negotiations in the maintenance of a hegemonic masculinity and as potential challenges to such a masculinity from an insurgent or subaltern form of Mexicano/Chicano masculinity. This phenomenon of competing and, at times, mutually reinforcing forms of masculinity as a result remains rooted in the onset of conquest but is also dynamically intersectional. In the contemporary context, race and ethnicity, nonetheless, remain the primary modalities upon which this phenomenon rests; it is best exemplified by adapting Gayatri Spivak’s calculus as: white men saving all women from the threat of black and brown men.

Hegemonic masculinity, as defined by Tim Carrigan, Bob Connell, and John Lee in “Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity,” is part of a set of powerful circumstances in which the meanings and practices of masculinity also become a normative force through, for example, the mass media; it also emerges through a “naturalized” division of labor that works to reify classed and gendered identities and spaces in society. Furthermore, this type of hegemonic masculinity is more powerfully underscored, they argue, when supported and embodied by the state. Homeboy masculinity, by contrast, is not ideologically or politically pure in practice or performance precisely because it is informed by the complex histories of Spanish and American imperialisms and the modern/colonial gender system that emerges from these large-scale structures. In the present context, homeboy masculinity is also de/formed by the late-modern processes of urbanization—themselves inflected with the legacies of those imperialisms and more contemporary racial and spatial formations. It is, consequently, a central social element of the dialectical relationships between barrioization and the barriological. Homeboy masculinity, nonetheless, remains an insurgent form of masculinity whose spirit challenges these white hegemonic forms of masculinity and, by extension, a compulsory heteronormative sexuality.

Keywords: Chicana/o cultural studies, masculinity studies, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial theory, media studies

Masculinity Studies

Michael Kimmel and Tristan Bridges, in their Oxford Bibliographies article “Masculinity,” note: “Masculinities scholars study the various ways that men are—as a group—privileged, as well as focusing on the costs of those privileges and the ways in which not all men are granted equal access to them. ‘Masculinity’” they add, “refers to the behaviors, social roles, and relations of men within a given society as well as the meanings attributed to them. The term masculinity stresses gender, unlike male, which stresses biological sex.”1 Kimmel and Bridges importantly note that the social construction of gender varies “historically,” “cross-culturally,” “intra-psychically,” and “contextually.” Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman, in Theorizing Masculinities, note that gender and masculinities studies are “studies of relations and manifestations of unequal power and the internalization and re-enactment of those relations” based on a systematic construction and implementation of a semiotics and policing of gender that work to maintain those differentials of power.2

R. W. Connell in Masculinities argues that “masculinities come into existence at particular times and places, and are always subject to change” and, therefore must always be historically situated. Nonetheless, Connell also argues for a persistent “hegemonic masculinity” that is not monolithic, singular, or fixed but that dynamically shifts and remains reflective of large-scale differentials of power that emerge in the modern “sex/gender system”3 Overall, the modern sex/gender system, Connell argues, begins in the “long nineteenth century” and continues in the present as a culturally-specific Euro-American form of masculinity structured by four early developments in this period: (1) The challenge to medieval Catholicism and its governance of European societies by the spread of “Renaissance secular culture” and the “Protestant reformation.” (2) The onset of European imperialism as a “gendered enterprise” in which one of the key logics of hegemonic masculinity—that a [white] Western civilization defined by its rationality will be the bearer of enlightenment to a “benighted” world—simultaneously develops. (3) The development of modern commercial capitalist city centers throughout the world that result from European imperialism and the shifting of wealth and resources (human and otherwise) because these capitalist city centers help to reinforce an individualized notion of the rational/masculine subjectivity that is later understood as the model of citizenship and national belonging. (4) Large-scale European civil wars that create strong centralized nation-states that institutionalize men’s power and underscore the relationships between national development/nationalism, the modern nation-state, and the gender order.4 Connell’s re/assessment of the present historical moment and hegemonic masculinity, however, provides the qualifications that the current “global gender order is not homogeneous,” and suggests that we must also “register the strength of reactions against the Western gender order.”5

Indeed, gender studies scholars have historically articulated and effectively critiqued the practices and semiotics of gender and its effects. Judith Butler argues that gender is, in part, a series of repeated, performative acts that are legitimated by their ritualistic “mundaneness.” Butler adds like Connell, however, that gender “ought not to be construed as a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts follow; rather, gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts.”6 Moreover, Butler notes a socio-temporal element to the intelligibility, policing, and performance of gender; recognizes the troubling terrain of asserting a universality to these performative acts; and concedes that the “sexualization of racial gender norms calls to be read through multiple lenses at once,” all the while acknowledging the “limits of gender as an exclusive category of analysis” especially with regard to race and empire.7

Empire, Race, and Gender

Scholars of de/postcoloniality have, since the 1980s, attempted to make an intervention in Western and postcolonial historiographies that have largely ignored the intersections of gender and sexuality in the imperial/(post)colonial contexts. Anne McClintock writes: “One might think it could go without saying by now that European men were the most direct agents of empire. Yet male theorists of imperialism and postcolonialism have seldom felt moved to explore the gendered dynamics of the subject.”8 Spivak adds: “both as object of colonialist historiography and as subject of insurgency, the ideological construction of gender keeps the male dominant. If, in the context of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow.” She then concludes that the “subaltern cannot speak.”9 Importantly, McClintock also notes that the “cult of domesticity . . . was a crucial, concealed dimension of male as well as female identities—shifting and unstable as these were—and an indispensable element both of the industrial market and the imperial enterprise” [emphasis added].10

Frantz Fanon, nonetheless, is credited with being one of the first scholars to theorize masculinity in colonial and postcolonial contexts. As such, Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (BSWM) remains a fruitful, if contentious, start to theorizing gender/masculinities in the context of conquest/imperialism and other racial formations. In this book, Fanon attempts to uncover the psychic effects of colonialism on the colonized subject and by such an analysis to “liberat[e] the man of color from himself.”11 As a critical theorization of the colonized subject’s conscious and subconscious desires in the colonial context, BSWM challenges the primacy of the Western imperial bourgeois home as the most significant locus of psychoanalysis and the primary locus of the division of labor for the colonized subject. He relocates these psycho-social foci in the broader contexts of the sociopolitical conditions of the colony/postcolony and, subsequently, in the formation of the modern nation-state. Fanon also argues that the “epidermalization,” on an individual level, of conquest/colonization is “the outcome of a double process: primarily, economic; subsequently, the internalization—or, better, the epidermalization—of this inferiority [complex].”12 The result is a de-centering of the heteropatriarchal nuclear family and its bourgeois home as the model for modern psychological and sociological study—indeed, perhaps it de-centers much of Western thought—because Fanon’s intervention requires a recognition of the historical disruptions conquest, slavery, and racism have made on the family—especially families of color—as foundational sociological units of study.

While the interventions made by Fanon are significant in raising important questions about the sexual politics of conquest and socio-sexual relationships in the colonies, he also reproduced a misogyny and homophobia that some scholars argue are related to his own anxieties about a racial inferiority in colonial contexts that presupposes his “feminization” and, therefore, engenders the threat of sexual violence on the part of the colonizer.13 In contrast, Rey Chow argues: “If, in terms of the inequality of race, Fanon correctly identifies the ‘infernal circle’ of shame and longing-for-recognition as the condition that traps the black man, who is not exactly refused entry yet not exactly given his due recognition by the white world, he also uncannily inflicts a similar ‘infernal’ circle on the woman of color.”14 Diana Fuss adds that such dynamic processes of recognition and misrecognition in the colonial contexts “[bring] a sense of identity into being” but “also immediately calls that identity into question.”15 In other words, Chow and Fuss suggest that Fanon’s gender and socioeconomic standing, much like Jean Veneuse’s, act as deracializing agents that render Veneuse and Fanon “extremely brown” rather than black in colonial discourse. To underscore the point, Chow notes that for Fanon: “If the black man is not admitted [to the colonial community] by the white man because of his skin color, then this very skin color would now become the basis for a new community.” She adds, “the legitimation and delegitimation of . . . [the gender and sexuality of the woman of color, in turn, becomes] crucial to the concept of a postcolonial national community.”16

Anne McClintock suggests, however, that “as male theorists of nationalism go, Frantz Fanon is exemplary . . . for recognizing gender as a formative dimension of nationalism” and that “Fanon opens race to a problematics of sexuality that reveals far more intricate entanglements than a mere doubling of ‘the Otherness of the Self.’” McClintock, in a generous reading of Fanon’s nationalism, also adds: “Fanon’s anguished musings on race and sexuality disclose that “colonial desire” is not the same for men and women.” Finally, she notes: “Fanon understands brilliantly how colonialism inflicts itself as a domestication of the colony, a reordering of the labor and sexual economy of the people, so as to divert female power into colonial hands and disrupt the patriarchal power of colonized men.”17 McClintock, therefore, grants that Fanon had at least a limited understanding of the ways in which institutions of power in the colonial/postcolonial context mediate gender, race, class, and sexuality—through control of the modes of reproduction—that, in this case, literally point to the control of women’s bodies as the primary site of the reproduction of labor in an imperial/capitalist framework.

Therefore, while Fanon participates in a discourse among and between men that intellectually reproduces imperial/capitalist social relations related to knowledge production and the subjugation of women, Fanon’s subaltern subjectivity and anticolonial nationalism also embody Spivak’s assertion that “radical practice should attend to [the] double session of representation.”18 That is, unlike many of the Western intellectuals who have the privilege of imagining themselves “transparent” in their representations of the subaltern, Fanon can never assume such transparency because the “fact of his blackness” always implicates him in any representation/re-presentation of the subaltern. It also serves as a different type of signifier that continually leads to his alienation despite initial recognitions or “misrecognitions” by the colonizer that also implicate Fanon in a sex/gender system that renders him “effeminate.”

The result of Fanon’s early intervention is that any articulation of gender/masculinity for men of color must account for the historically specific and material conditions of the context of imperialism, postcolonial struggle, and modern nation-state formations. Specifically, this means that the very bases for the bourgeois notion of the division of labor are immediately challenged by imperialism in general and specific systems of oppression like chattel slavery through which the black family unit is “de-formed” or ripped apart by the slave owner. In short, the heteropatriarchal construction of the family unit as the basis for a division of labor cannot also be the basis for black and other racialized/subaltern forms of gender relationships because these families historically negotiated their gender and sexual politics with the colonial/state. This is not to suggest a monolithic, singular, fixed, or predetermined relationship; rather, it suggests a continuity of these unequal power relationships between the subaltern and the hegemonic forms of gender and sexuality as reinforced and policed by both imperial powers and the state.

The Americas and the “Coloniality of Gender”

While these systems of oppression and the modalities through which oppression is carried out remain dynamic, historically and situationally specific, the onset of a global/imperial system of social, political, and economic domination that begins with European conquest provides for a generally consistent framework through which to understand a “modern/colonial gender system” in the post/colonies. R. W. Connell notes that this framework and these “new ‘Third World’ feminist critiques” of the modern/colonial system importantly engage older forms of feminism like “Western” feminism in their analyses of the legacies of colonialism in racial, gender, and sexual formations in the present contexts.19 María Lugones, like Connell, argues for a framework that underscores how gender and heterosexuality are constitutive parts of the system that also engenders racial and class hierarchies as integral to settler colonialism.20 Lugones notes that these intersecting and interlocking systems of oppression are part of what Aníbal Quijano calls the “coloniality of power” that emerges in the late 15th century with the onset of the European conquest of the Americas.21 Thus, the coloniality of gender or what Lugones calls the “modern/colonial gender system,” is framed by theories developed by “Third World and Women of Color feminists” that include critical race theory and intersectionality, but also necessarily include the work of Quijano in articulating the coloniality of power.22 Thus, Lugones’s coloniality of gender extends Quijano’s argument about the modern/colonial system by noting that the onset of colonization as an “encompassing phenomenon” that works to naturalize gender, sexual, class, racial, and epistemological hierarchies is part of a taken-for-granted historical process framed as “modernity.” The implication, according to Lugones, is that the coloniality of power also makes the division of labor “thoroughly ‘racialized’ as well as geographically differentiated [European and Other]” and reinforces the extension of the division of labor to the entire colony as a “domesticated” and “feminine” space, as Fanon’s work implies.23

Integral to this modern/colonial gender system, however, is a Eurocentrism that is not limited to the European but that can and is reproduced by colonized subjects as part of the phenomenon of modernity. Lugones writes, “The cognitive needs of capitalism and the naturalizing of the identities and relations of coloniality and the geocultural distribution of world capitalist power have guided the production of this way of knowing” and produces the sense of disinterested calculation and “rationality” characteristically embodied as hegemonic masculinity.24 Thus, Lugones argues that gender is constituted by and constitutive of the coloniality of power. Ultimately, she argues that the subaltern communities—inclusive of “men who have been racialized as inferior,” women of color, and queer folx—must move beyond the sex-gender binaries that are structured by Eurocentrism, re-create indigenous/decolonized systems of “reciprocity” that are horizontal and complementary rather than hierarchical, and actively take control of the systems of labor, subjectivity/intersubjectivity, collective authority, and sex that are always already racialized and gendered in the modern/colonial gender system.25

Lugones, then, offers a particular insight into the historically specific construction of gender, race, sexuality, class, etc. in the Latin American contexts at the onset of conquest. This insight, obviously, extends to the constructions of other forms of gender, race, sexuality, and class identities among Latinas/os/xs in the United States and on the borderlands. One key difference, however, is that Latina/o/x community formation in the United States is a product of, at the very least, two major waves of conquest and colonization: the first by the Spanish/Europeans, the second, by the United States from the 19th century to the present. Lugones, however, in developing her theory of the modern/colonial gender system, extends its application even among Native Americans in her engagement with Paula Gunn Allen and Africans and African Americans in her engagement with Oyéwonké Oyéwúmí as part of a Women of Color framework of political and intellectual solidarity.

Still, particularizing these social, political, and material/corporeal relations as “intersecting” with other systems of oppression and unequal power relations (even among people of color) implicitly suggests the dynamic resistance to change and progress of these various systems. It also requires that any approach to the study of gender/masculinity must be as dynamic and appropriately account for the historical and locally specific constellations of race, class, and sexuality “as a necessary component for any inquiry into men and masculinities” that are simultaneously informed by Third World feminisms and queer studies.26

Chicano Masculinity

The question of Chicano masculinity, then, is one that is informed by this specific community’s histories and its relationship to various interlocking and intersectional frameworks of oppression. Chicana scholar-activists in the United States have all underscored the interrelated and intersecting structures of race, gender, sexuality, and class in the Chicana/o/x community. But the intellectual history of the study of Chicano masculinity arguably begins in the Chicana/o movement among activists/scholars like Anna NietoGomez, Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, and Alma García, as recorded in the edited volume Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings.27 The study of Chicano/a masculinity congeals with Alfredo Mirandé’s work implicitly in La Chicana and The Chicano Experience, but especially with Hombres y Machos; Maxine Baca Zinn’s groundbreaking essay on Chicano masculinity; and Tomas Almaguer’s essay, “Chicano Men: A Cartography of Homosexual Identity and Behavior.”28

Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, nevertheless, in “La Chicana” outlines the triple oppression of Chicana women as a response to white, middle-class feminists and the patriarchal positions of Chicano men. She writes, “Today we can say that the Chicana suffers from a triple oppression. She is oppressed by the forces of racism, imperialism and sexism.” But Martinez goes on to reaffirm solidarity with Chicanos in a way that Anzaldúa does not, or at least not as prominently as Martinez. Martinez argues: “We [Chicana feminists] will not win our liberation struggle unless the women move together with the men rather than against them” and she ends by noting that “the rape of our continent, our people, is historically linked” through conquest on the part of Anglo and Spanish settlers and suggests like Fanon that men as well as women suffer the consequences of conquest.29 In addition, Anna NietoGomez expands on Martinez’s assertion that the oppression of Chicanas and Chicanos is historically linked to the onset of conquest and underscores this shared history between them. NietoGomez writes: “Sexism is part of the capitalist ideology that advocates male supremacist values. . . . The psychology of racism works in a similar manner. Racism is also a part of capitalist ideology. . . . Both the Chicano and Chicana experience is affected by these two ideologies. In fact, both the Chicano and Chicana experience racist-sexism.”30 But, besides pointing to the structural conditions under which Chicana/o identity is configured, NietoGomez offers insight into the effects such structural/material conditions have on Chicano men in particular—something Anzaldúa suggests only in passing.31 NietoGomez writes, “Colonized men of color are considered as inferior as women since colonized men do not have the power or authority to rule, provide economically and protect the family. This racist sexism considers Mexican males as either effeminate, or a ‘Macho,’ overcompensating because of his powerless position in his society.”32 This, of course, does not excuse sexism on the part of Chicanos/Mexicanos. The point here is to understand the way in which invoking a mestiza/o subjectivity (or consciousness) calls up, according to Rafael Pérez-Torres, a historical consciousness that can empower Chicanas/os or replicate colonial dislocations of racial (and gender) inequalities.33

In her essay, Maxine Baca Zinn argues that the prevailing social science image of the Chicano male is rooted in three interrelated propositions: (1) that a distinctive cultural heritage has created a rigid cult of masculinity, (2) that the masculinity cult generates distinctive familial and socialization patterns, and (3) that these distinctive patterns ill-equip Chicanos (both males and females) to adapt successfully to the demands of modern society.34 Baca Zinn’s synopsis of the social sciences’ characterization of Chicano men is telling and by no means limited to that field. It certainly outlines the way in which the social sciences have been complicit in perpetuating a hypermasculine image of the Chicano/Latino and, by extension, constructing machismo—the racialized performance of hypermasculinity and heteropatriarchy—as a legitimizing framework for pathologizing Chicano and, by extension, Latino men. This is an obvious example of what Lugones describes as the Eurocentrism of the modern/colonial gender system. As a result, however, Baca Zinn and others argue that this supposed “rigid cult” of Chicano/Latino masculinity must be contextualized as part and parcel of broader histories of institutional racism and imperialism; that such characterizations, while sometimes accurate, are always framed by a series of literal, epistemic, and discursive colonizing practices that are integral to maintaining a system of heterosexual white supremacy in the United States.

Baca Zinn specifically argues that the racialization of patriarchy and masculinity calls for a historically and culturally specific recontextualization of both. She suggests that male chauvinism/dominance is not something that is inherently Chicano or Latino, arguing that male dominance is not “rooted” in Chicano history. By contrast, she goes on to point out the near “universal” characterization of most Western societies as “male dominant”/patriarchal. As a result, Baca Zinn continually underscores the importance of structural rather than cultural determinants of male behavior and masculine identity formation. She notes, finally, that social stratification and systematic exclusion from certain “social categories” leads to the contrasting behavior in men from different social classes. She writes:

Men in certain social categories have had more roles and sources of identity open to them. However, this has not been the case for Chicanos or other men of color. Perhaps manhood takes on greater importance for those who do not have access to socially valued roles. Being male is one sure way to acquire status when other roles are systematically denied by the workings of society. This suggests that an emphasis on masculinity is not due to a collective internalized inferiority, rooted in a subcultural orientation. To be “hombre” may be a reflection of both ethnic and gender components and may take on greater significance when other roles and sources of masculine identity are structurally blocked. . . . To view Chicano male behavior in this light is . . . to recast masculinity in terms of responses to structural conditions.35

It is important to note, nevertheless, that while Baca Zinn wonderfully illuminates the internal US social/economic structural influences on Chicano male behavior, she does not elaborate on the broader historical colonial and imperial influences on such behavior as Lugones and Connell do.

Alfredo Mirandé argues that the explanations of the origins of Mexican masculinity and, subsequently Chicano masculinity, are rooted in at least three positions. Mirandé describes the first position as the view that the Mexican/Chicano hypermasculinity is a “direct result of the Spanish Conquest” and a form of “masculine protest.” He adds, however, “This view is negative, or pathological, because it assumes that the so-called Mexican protest is a response to intense and persistent feelings of powerlessness and weakness.” In this view, Mirandé notes, Mexican and Chicano machismo is “nothing more than a futile attempt to mask a profound sense of impotence, powerlessness, and ineptitude.” Using a brief character study of the Mexican figures of “el chingón” and “el pelado,” Mirandé ultimately concludes that these forms of Mexican and, later, Chicano masculinity are more complex than they seem. He argues that the figure of el pelado, as played by Cantinflas and Pedro Infante, “symbolized a positive quality of the uncultured, witty, but infinitely resourceful Mexican.” He adds the pelado, “is sensitive, loving, and loyal, and demonstrates his manliness through action, not by abusing people or holding his genitals and proclaiming his manhood” in these representations by Cantinflas and Infante.36

The second position, Mirandé notes, suggests that the Spaniards imposed their own cultural emphases on masculinity on the indigenous population in Mexico during and after conquest in the same way Catholicism was imposed upon them. Mirandé argues implicitly that it was the convergence of the Catholic worldview that the conquest of Mexico was a divine right that was led by “God’s valiant soldier” who, according to doctrinal belief, was also made in the “image of God,” and the Aztec belief that the deity Quetzalcoatl would return from the east on the very day that Hernan Cortes landed on the eastern shores of Mexico. Thus, the “cult of Mexican masculinity” or machismo emerges from the model of masculinity set forth, with religious zeal, by the figure of Cortes as conquistador and later adopted by mestizos and indigenous converts to Catholicism and reified through the historical processes of conquest and colonization.

The third explanation Mirandé engages with is the suggestion that pre-Columbian societies already exhibited a gendered division in their worldviews; therefore, excessive displays of masculinity were already a part of Aztec society.37 Nonetheless, Mirandé finds evidence that contradicts the existence of a rigid cult of hypermasculinity in the Florentine Codex. He notes that in one account, an Aztec father advises his son to be humble, behave in a way that honors the ancestors, and respect the elders in the community (the “white-headed” people). In another example, an Aztec father encourages temperance in his son and suggests that he should not be sexually promiscuous because that would “interrupt thy development.” Mirandé concludes by noting the impossibility of an absolute position with regard to the role of the division of labor and dimorphic worldview of pre-Columbian Aztec societies in the construct of machismo. Nonetheless, he argues that the masculine-feminine divisions were not as rigid as they seem; and, he adds, “Unlike the conquistadores . . . brazen in their displays of masculinity, Indian men were exhorted to be humble and contrite rather than boastful and vain. Vanity,” Mirandé writes, “presumptuousness, and pride provoked the anger of the Lord of the Night. Prudence and moderation were expected in all realms of existence including eating, drinking and the carnal life.” Furthermore, Mirandé notes the important roles of parteras (midwives) and, like Gloria Anzaldúa, the significant role of Coatlicue as the “creator and destroyer of all life and matter.”38 Mirandé concludes that it is “not possible to say which is ‘true’ or ‘correct’” but recognizes “much overlap among the three [explanations]”; he also introduces the concept of Nepantla (the middle space or “neutral” ground) to undermine the binaries present in both pre-Columbian Mexico and after.39

Gloria Anzaldúa, in her groundbreaking work Borderlands/La Frontera, also theorizes pre-Cortesian Aztec society but engages it from the framework of a Chicana lesbian who was born and raised in Texas and on the US-Mexico borderlands. Yet, Anzaldúa’s and other Chicana feminist and queer scholarship specifically developed a “third,” interstitial space for the construction of a Chicana/o identity in contradistinction to formerly heteropatriarchal, nationalist constructions of Chicanismo. Borderlands/La Frontera, in particular, is an indictment of hegemonic repression on both sides of the US-México border and thus begins with a literal and metaphoric articulation of the border as a liminal (Nepantlera) space and importantly adds that the borderlands are and remain the “birthplace” of Chicana/o/x identity. The border, for Anzaldúa, becomes a symbolic place; it becomes a place that represents the Other—“the squint-eyed, the perverse, the queer, the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed [and], the half dead” even within a gendered binary construction of Chicano identity and community. From this metaphoric/symbolic positioning of the border, Anzaldúa traces the historical origins of Chicanos in the southwestern United States and their migrations from the Southwest into central Mexico and back to the Southwest (configured as Aztlán) again as a circular migration and a return to a decolonized “home.”40

Anzaldúa, however, importantly challenges the division of labor and a binary understanding of gender in the Chicana/o community by noting how sexuality has been an integral but suppressed part of the Chicana/o community’s social relations. Indeed, uncovering these tensions is crucial to her text because she is attempting to highlight the borderlands as a place of “contradiction,” and the place where cultures and identities meet in contrast to the primacy of the heteropatriarchal nuclear Chicano home.41 In other words, Anzaldúa argues that Chicana/o/x identity is primarily rooted in the conditions that create and maintain a deterritorialization in the borderlands/the Chicana/o/x homeland in order to dislocate the heteropatriarchal nuclear Chicano family as central to the construction of Chicana/o/x identity. Borderlands/La Frontera therefore begins by noting Anzaldúa’s movement away from her literal home, her cultura, y su familia, in the first chapter, “Movimientos de rebeldía y las culturas que traicionan.” In this chapter, she argues that the expulsions of queer Chicanas from la familia is a repressive function of Chicano culture and, therefore, her move away from this repressive and ideological “home” is a movement of rebellion against heteropatriarchy. She then connects this critique of the Chicano home to her larger Chicana feminist framework that posits a necessity for a queer Chicana familia by giving voice to Malintzin/Malinche—the indigenous woman who translated for Hernán Cortés and subsequently had children with him (children who are said to be the first mestizos of what becomes “modern” Mexico). In this way, the history of the conquest of Mexico forms a significant ideological structure for Chicano culture and families’ intimate relationships. In challenging the official history of Malinche, Anzaldúa is also attempting to dismantle or, at the very least, challenge and reimagine these gender, sexual, and other roles in the Chicana/o community. More important, Anzaldúa responds directly to these heteropatriarchal ideological structures of family and community by suggesting that Malintzin is the myth that Chicanos use to control Chicanas and then redirects the charge of “traitor”/Malinchista to Chicano men and a heteropatriarchal Chicano culture.

Like Anna NietoGomez, Elizabeth Martínez, Maria Lugones, and others, then, Anzaldúa underscores the role of Spanish conquest and American imperialism in the construction of a “modern/gender colonial order.” Aníbal Quijano likewise explains the relationship between colonialism and race in Nepantla: Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism and Latin America:

In America, the idea of race was a way of granting legitimacy to the relations of domination imposed by the conquest. After the colonization of America and the expansion of European colonization to the rest of the world, the subsequent constitution of Europe as a new id-entity needed the elaboration of a Eurocentric perspective of knowledge, a theoretical perspective on the idea of race as a naturalization of colonial relations between Europeans and non-Europeans.42

Lugones’s analysis importantly adds that the onset of conquest and colonization in the Americas absolutely “legitimated” a far more complex interlocking framework of domination that centered not only on race but also on gender, sexuality, and their related class hierarchies in the modern context. As a result, this centering, after colonization, of Europe as a new id-entity for many Chicana/o/x and Latinx/a/o scholars suggests that the restrictions of the racialized superego would be calibrated differently, according to a different cultural/moral standard, so that the (mis)treatment of women by Chicanos and other men of color would follow simultaneously as an internalization of the power relations embedded in conquest.

Most important, Anzaldúa not only argues that gender differences for Chicanos and Chicanas should be contextualized in terms of the material conditions that they share (i.e., colonialism, racism, etc.), she privileges the queer, feminine/feminist position as the “new mestiza consciousness” as the ameliorative response to the Chicano racialized, hypermasculinized subject that was formed out of those material conditions. At one point Anzaldúa writes, “Only gay men have had the courage to expose themselves to the woman inside them and to challenge the current masculinity.” She adds, with regard to Chicano men and masculinity: “I’ve encountered a few scattered and isolated gentle straight men, the beginning of a new breed, but they are confused, and entangled with sexist behaviors that they have not been able to eradicate.”43

In the end, Anzaldúa’s Borderlands, while incredibly groundbreaking, risks producing a romanticized notion of mestiza consciousness rooted in a historically sterilized pre-Cortesian indigeneity. In addition, Anzaldúa’s analyses of gay and heterosexual Chicano men run the risk of reproducing the logic that queerness is merely an inversion of the sex/gender system rather than its own sexual, gendered, and political formation of desire and a series of related performative acts, etc. That said, Anzaldúa, along with key scholars like Tomas Almaguer, instituted a paradigmatic shift in understanding the modern/colonial gender system for Chicanas/os/xs in the United States and on the US-Mexico border. Indeed, Almaguer argues: “Unlike the European-American system, the Latin American sexual system is based on a configuration of gender/sex/power that is articulated along the active/passive axis and organized through the scripted sexual role one plays,” and he carefully notes that this system pays only “secondary importance to a person’s gender or biological sex.” Overall, Almaguer describes a range of “masculinity” and “femininity” among men that engages in a politics of penetration, power, and violence described by Octavio Paz as a “masculine homosexuality.” According to Almaguer, Paz noted that a masculine homosexuality is tolerated in Mexico as long as it is achieved by the “negation of all that is feminine within him” by the subjugation of both men and women.44 Thus, like Anzaldúa and others, Almaguer provides an overview of Chicano masculinity and sexuality that is rooted in the context of conquest as he premises his articulation of Chicano homosexuality with his engagement of Paz’s articulation of the common Mexican phrases la chingada and el chingón to describe the power politics of Mexican and Chicano homosexuality. This construction of Mexican masculine homosexuality also troubles Anzaldúa’s uncritical privileging of Chicano gay men (i.e., their sexuality) as the primary “challenge to current masculinity.”45

The Queer Chicana/o Turn

As the dominant strand of masculinity studies notes, the emergence of this field owes an intellectual and political debt to the second wave feminist movement and to the struggles for gay rights especially because the argument for an affirmative defense of homosexuality directly challenged a biological (and ideologically “naturalized”) construct of gender and sexuality.46 Nevertheless, as the necessity for a queer of color critique implies, empire, race, and class considerations were not central to these early movements and their politics. Almaguer begins his essay by noting the dearth of literary, academic, and political engagements with Chicano homosexuality. Baca Zinn notes the ways in which the social science disciplines become complicit in maintaining a racist/racializing pathologizing of Chicano masculinity as a culturally specific form of patriarchy without attending to hegemonic masculinity and the violence of European imperialists as a contrast. In “Queer Aztlán: The Re-Formation of the Chicano Tribe,” Cherríe Moraga clearly delineates the relationship between her politicization and her sexuality. She argues that in the context of the Chicano movement in 1968, her political conscious emerged by necessity and as a direct result of the “bold recognition of [her] lesbianism” and “because not acting would have meant [her] death by despair.”47

Moraga also argues, however, that in the twenty years since her coming to a political consciousness through her “bold recognition” of her sexuality, she is ready to make a return to “la Chicanada”—to the “familial place from which [she] is compelled to write.” The impetus for her return home, she argues, is her experiences with “the racism of the Women’s Movement, the elitism of the Gay and Lesbian Movement, the homophobia and sexism of the Chicano Movement and the benign imperialism of the Latin American Solidarity Movement” and the subsequent “emergence of a Chicana feminist consciousness,” “a lesbian-of-color movement,” a “national Latino/a lesbian and gay men’s organization,” and a campaign for indigenous people’s human and land rights.48 Thus, the emergence of queer Chicana/o/x activists and the development of a significant body of Chicana/o/x queer scholarship operates as a corrective to previous intellectual and political oversights and tensions but also as a collective recording of a multifaceted insurgent Chicana/o/x life.

Since then, Chicana/o/x queer scholarship has increased exponentially and continued to collectively challenge heteropatriarchal relationships in the community. This Bridge Called My Back, the volume edited by Moraga and Anzaldúa, remains a classic intervention in women of color feminist and queer articulations of self/subjectivity in the context of the real and intellectual violence Moraga describes.49 Carla Trujillo’s edited volume Living Chicana Theory likewise privileges the experiences and voices of queer and feminist Chicanas.50 David William Foster’s Chicano/Latino Homoerotic Identities, as a collection, focuses on Chicana/o and Latina/o queer literary studies.51 Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s edited volume, Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture & Chicana/o Sexualities, is a collection of scholarship on popular culture that reclaims the space, semiotics, and politics of the domestic sphere/house by privileging a new Chicana/o “epistemology of a ‘walk-in’ closet” as an important part of the symbolic structure of the house.52

More recently, Frederick Luis Aldama’s writings on representations of the queer Chicana/o self in Brown on Brown: Chicana/o Representations of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity and Critical Mappings of Arturo Islas’s Fictions continue the critical interrogation of the power politics of Chicana/o cultural and literary production.53 Daniel Contreras similarly focuses on queer Chicana/o literary texts in Unrequited Love and Gay Latino Culture: What Have You Done to My Heart?54 Adelaida del Castillo and Gibrán Guido’s Queer in Aztlán: Chicano Male Recollections of Consciousness and Coming Out offers a complex rendering of Chicano and Mexicano sexuality, homophobia, and masculinity.55 Sandra K. Soto’s argument in Reading Chican@ Like a Queer to move the “racialized sexuality from a minoritarian to a majoritarian position by arguing for its relevance to all Chican@ representations . . . renders sexuality, and along with it, Chicana feminist insights about sexuality . . . unexceptional” and, as a result, resists the “containment of feminist insights” back in to an intellectual, political, and academic closet.56 Furthermore, Soto argues that Reading Chican@ Like a Queer, “dislodges Chicana feminist literature from its role as incipient evidence of ‘intersectionality’ and from its register of transparent experience in order to perform a queer discursive analysis of racialized sexuality as an aperture (not an endpoint) onto the sometimes queer, at other times normative (most often, both) representations of race, desire, and intercultural and intracultural social relations” (emphasis added).57 Richard T. Rodríguez similarly argues for re-reading all of Chicana/o cultural texts with a queer-inspired “curiosity.” He specifically calls this queer reading of otherwise heteronormative texts part of a process that approaches texts with a “curious ambiguity.”58

Homeboy Masculinity: Praxis and Politics

As noted, the onset of a global/imperial system of social, political, and economic domination that begins with European conquest in the Americas provides a generally consistent framework through which to understand a “modern/colonial gender system” in Latin America and, subsequently, in more localized sites like the Chicano barrio. Raúl Villa, Raquel R. Márquez, Louis Mendoza, Steve Blanchard, and others note the extension of the colonial context to the barrio context in describing the dialectical framework for Chicana/o social space and the place of the barrio as part of the dual processes of barrioization (a process brought about by “socially deforming” external apparatuses) and the barriological (“culturally affirming” barrio-centric knowledge productions and practices).59 Moreover, taking cues primarily from Richard T. Rodríguez and Sandra Soto, the theoretical premises for my explication of a distinct homeboy masculinity is also part of an attempt to approach their representations of masculinity with a “curious ambiguity” and then “perform a queer discursive analysis of . . . [this] racialized [form of gender and] sexuality as an aperture (not an endpoint) for these figures.60

Homeboy masculinity, as a result, is performed by a variety of characters and people—primarily people in and from the Chicano barrio. It is important to distinguish, therefore, between those figures who emerge as voices from and for the barrio (barriological figures) and those who attempt to speak for or represent the barrio from the outside (barrioized figures). Of course, while this insider/outsider framework is crude and perhaps simplistic, it remains effective because there is little doubt that the conditions of the barrio structure these social relations without over-determining them.

Luis J. Rodriguez and Barrio-Biographics

Perhaps one of the most significant Chicano barrio writers is Luis J. Rodríguez. Rodríguez’s Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. is a memoir about his life and participation in a Chicano/Latino gang in San Gabriel, California—a city just east of Los Angeles.61 His memoir functions as a cautionary tale against gang membership but also offers poignant critiques of the educational and the justice systems in the United States, which, he suggests, are complicit in producing modern gangs. As a result, Rodríguez details men of color’s disproportionate vulnerability to state violence, their issues of belonging/citizenship/nationhood, and, of course, the socioeconomic conditions in the barrio that engender other forms of violence and alternative forms of belonging/nationhood.62

In “Luis J. Rodriguez’s Always Running: Between Chicano Nationalism and the Left,” I argue that Rodríguez uses the life-writing framework to deploy what I term a “barrio-biographics”—a barriological approach to writing the self while simultaneously and self-consciously writing about barrio life because both are integrally connected63. Barrio-biographics, consequently, is a modality through which to effect critiques of settler colonization, the nation-state, predatory capitalism, and the modern/colonial gender system as the primary systems that create the conditions of the barrio (barrioization) and subsequently engender various forms of violence against these individual subjects. This is why Luis Rodríguez begins Always Running by narrating the different reasons his family migrated from Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, to Los Angeles; and, once in Los Angeles, why he narrates their migrations from Watts to Reseda to San Gabriel. These constant “migrations,” he notes, led to a general instability in his life and his identity. The majority of the book focuses on his experiences and critiques of two modern primary institutions—the public educational system and the police—as a way to highlight their linkages to broader histories of American imperialism. Thus, Rodriguez’s barrio-biographics explicitly signals how the barrio and other urban ghettos are historically connected to these legacies of imperialism and conquest because it articulates an argument for the way new state forces (e.g., modern militarized police forces) and the prison system replaced the old settler colonial forces and systems of containment like the US military and the reservation system.

Despite the liberating potential of his memoir and its politics, the most poignant and effective criticism of Rodríguez’s narrative is his treatment of women. Women do not even seem to merit inclusion or focus in his prefatory note or his epilogue in the way racialized male and classed subjects are included. Given that these are the places in his text where Rodríguez is most clear about his radical politics, it would stand to reason that he might address the question of sexism in either location. He does not. Rodríguez, like other Chicano writers who are products of the 1960s and 1970s Chicano Movement, reproduces rather than deconstructs these heteropatriarchal relationships and, in this moment, embodies the dominant representation of homeboy masculinity. That is, these homeboy Chicano nationalist narratives reproduce masculinist, heteronormative constructions of the nation-state and its politics despite attempting to challenge them. Angie Chabram-Dernersesian argues that these Chicano men struggle with their own marginality and subjectivity and thus find themselves in a new “border state” where, as we see in Rodríguez’s memoir, masculinist discourses give them some semblance of power/empowerment but always at the expense of women of color.64

Hollywood Homeboys

“Hollywood Homeboys” remain part of a legacy of barrioization by Hollywood. Rosa-Linda Fregoso, for example, argues that “beginning with the early-twentieth-century ‘Greaser’ genre and on to the ‘Westerns,’ the ‘social problem’ genre [of education films like Blackboard Jungle (1955) led] up to the recent onslaught of ‘gangxploitation’ films.”65 Importantly, both Fregoso and Charles Ramírez Berg understand the role of cinema in formulating—much like Benedict Anderson has argued with print culture—an “imagined community.”66 In this respect, the collective films about Chicano and Latino gang members in the barrio form a “cinematic barrio” that remains integral to a continual dominant ideological process of barrioization for both the Chicana/o community and Chicanas/os/xs themselves. Richard Mora notes: “As a cinematic descendant of the Mexican bandido, the cholo [Chicano gang member] is of questionable character, with few redeeming qualities” and consequently becomes “the barrio, abject persona.” Mora adds that the “hypermasculinity” of Chicano gang members is “in accordance with the hegemonic masculinity” in poor and working-class neighborhoods but that this performance of masculinity is an “abject identity” “because his existence and nature offends the imaginary civilized society” and ultimately works to “maintain the social order.”67

While I agree with Mora that the result of these representations of “abject masculinity” among Chicano cholos/homeboys works to maintain a hegemonic sex/gender order in the United States, I disagree with regard to whether this type of masculinity is distinct from or simply a facet of hegemonic masculinity. In short, the barriological approach to these representations requires recognition that homeboy masculinity is also part of a community-based oppositional politics to racism/imperialism and, in the contemporary context, the police as state “agents of repression.” This configuration of homeboy masculinity, then, is characterized by barrio-centric cinematic narratives like Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit in which these performances of masculinity are understood as “strategically essential” and to some degree essentializing.68 Fregoso argues: “Contrary to the historically variable and shifting range of Hegemonic masculinities, the representation of the masculine identity of racially subordinated groups stands out for its monologic and homogeneous economy, particularly in the case of Latinos” and exemplifies the distinction between a hegemonic masculinity and a homeboy masculinity.69 Nonetheless, such a performance of masculinity is not ideologically pure. Fregoso later adds that in the process of engaging with hegemonic representations of Chicanos in the barrio, many Chicano films like Zoot Suit also interpolated an “ideal Chicano male subject” and, as a consequence, reproduce heteropatriarchal logics of domination.70 These tensions engender the necessity, then, to “read Chican@ like a queer” and then re-examine the archive of Chicana/o texts with an “ambiguous curiosity.”71

In “Revisiting the Boulevard: The Gender & Sexual Politics of Michael Pressman’s Boulevard Nights,” I argue that the representations of Chicano gang members, as cultural and ideological signifiers in Boulevard Nights highlight the critical distinctions that need to be made with respect to the various implied performances of Chicano masculinities and embodiments of Chicano sexualities in the film.72 Boulevard Nights was billed as an exemplary model of cinematic realism with regard to Chicano gang life in Hollywood. The film follows the lives of two brothers—Raymond Avila, played by Richard Yñiguez, and Chuco Avila, played by Danny de la Paz—who are from the very real barrio of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. These brothers, according to the script, are on divergent paths: the older brother, Raymond, wants to get out of the barrio and one day open up a car shop of his own, while his younger brother, Chuco, seems hopelessly tied to the barrio in an otherwise nihilistic depiction of Chicano gang life. The juxtaposition of these two brothers structures the plot of the film and, while seemingly sympathetic to the plight of young Chicanos growing up in East LA, manages to reinforce the same racist, heteropatriarchal logics characteristic of mainstream Hollywood cinema but also reveal an implicit insurgent sexuality and masculinity in the text.

Overall, as we follow the Avila brothers through the “mean streets” of East LA, down Whittier Boulevard, and down their respective paths to manhood in this coming of age barrio narrative, it becomes apparent that Raymond’s escape from the barrio is not only locked up in his desire to own his own auto body shop (an assimilative capitalist endeavor) but also in his relationship with Denise “Shady” Landeros, played by Marta Dubois. Importantly, this latter narrative arc positions both the Chicano gang life and lowriding as antithetical to heteronormative relations (represented by Raymond’s eventual marriage to Shady). Raymond and Shady’s relationship, as a result, is continually contrasted with representations of stereotypically violent, hypermasculine behavior on the part of the homeboys in the film. These homosocial organizations (Chicano gangs), therefore, become an implicit threat to a “normalizing” ideological and sociological solution to gang violence and gang membership—heterosexual marriage.

The relationship between Shady and Raymond positions his redemption, success, and assimilation into the nation as a “good citizen” as intimately related to reinforcing heteronormativity and simultaneously makes the audience explicitly aware of the sexual and gendered politics of Chicano/Latino gangs and car clubs. In other words, her presence makes visible a queer homeboy sexual politics and aesthetics that subsequently provides the viewer with the most insightful rendition of the film’s sexual politics: that the meta-message of the film is that homosocial and homosexual Chicano/Latino relationships are equally, if not more, threatening to American society than the violence that gang membership implies in the film.73

American Me is the fictional film adaptation loosely based on the life of Rudolfo “Cheyenne” Cadena—a Mexican Mafia member who was killed in the California Institute for Men’s Prison in Chino in 1972 after attempting to negotiate a peace treaty between the Mexican Mafia and the northern California–based prison gang Nuestra Familia. In this 1992 film, Santana, the character based on “Cheyenne,” emerges from the streets of East Los Angeles as a gang member and, in the process of going to prison for murder, becomes a ruthless founder and leader of the Mexican Mafia. The film tells the story of the development of the Mexican Mafia in the 1950s at Deuel Vocational Institute for Men in Tracy, California. Through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards, director Edward James Olmos attempts to contextualize Chicano gang life in the aftermath of the Zoot Suit Riots and through Santana’s personal struggle to reintegrate into society after his parole from prison. The film, as a result, is one of the realest representations of gang life in prison and on the streets of East Los Angeles.

The issues that emerged during and after the film’s production are related more to Olmos’s creative license with the story than with the predominantly realist representation of Chicano gang life in the film. The film received some criticism of the depiction of Chicano gang life as “cancerous” and because it suggested that gang participation was a result of “‘how a dysfunctional family can ruin a youngster’s life,’” but the majority of the publicity about the film was related to its sexual politics.74

Jesse Katz, in his Los Angeles Times article about the film notes that the “most offensive scenes” to the Mexican Mafia and other gang members were about the sexual violence involving a young Santana. Katz writes: “Early in the film, a young Santana is sodomized by another youth in juvenile hall, a violation that never occurred, at least not in EME folklore. Although homosexual rape is a fact of prison life, a crucial distinction is made between the aggressor and the victim.” Moreover, Katz, in his report on a meeting in 1993 between a former Mexican mafioso named Ramon “Mundo” Mendoza and Olmos, quotes Mendoza as saying:

‘He [Olmos] could have picked anybody else [to portray being raped in jail], but Cheyenne, that was a real no-no,” said [Mendoza], who left the gang in the late 1970s after embracing Christianity. ‘If it had ever happened, he never would have become a Mexican Mafia member. And if he had become a Mexican Mafia member and they learned about it later, they would have killed him’ [Mendoza added].

Katz additionally points to another scene related to Santana’s sexual ambiguity in which Santana attempts to make love to Julie, his girlfriend in the film, played by Evelina Fernandez. Katz notes that the only way Santana seems to be able to derive personal pleasure from this sexual encounter is to attempt anal sex and reproduce the dynamics of a prison rape.75 Overall, then, the controversial issues with the film and its characters (i.e., gang life and the physical and sexual violence that are associated with it) are rooted in a “dysfunctional” nuclear family that embodies a type of heteronormativity that is disrupted and symbolically killed off by the homosociality of gangs and men in prison.

For the Chicano community, arguably the intended audience for the film, the resistance, criticism, and ambivalence related to it centers on the relationship between its sexual politics and the construction/formation of Chicano nationalist identity. Specifically, the way the film plays on the symbolic role of rape (i.e., Malinche) in the national/ist conscious of the Chicana/o community is what Fregoso points to as the “aesthetics of reception.”76 Frederick Luis Aldama argues likewise by noting that the film’s “violence and rapes invoke a larger history of colonization and conquest.” He adds that the “rape of Esperanza, [Santana’s mother in the movie], marks Santana as a proverbial hijo de la chingada” and, in this way, Santana literally and symbolically originates from a history of colonial violence (because it is ultimately unclear who his biological father is).77 Moreover, there is a scene that compounds the rape of his mother in which the man who raised Santana is de-zooted when his ducktail is cut off. This scene, argues Luz Calvo, is incredibly significant in understanding the sexual politics of the film because this act of de-zooting is “a symbolic castration of the Chicano.”78

Calvo also articulates how the rape of Santana’s mother and the de-zooting of the man who raised him work to fragment Santana’s own identity, which is best shown in a scene where he pens a letter to a love interest from prison saying: “I am two people. One was born the day I met you, the other was born in a downtown tattoo parlor [the place where his mother was raped].” As Calvo suggests, “Santana’s identity is (de)formed from the remnants of the history of colonial sexual violence in the southwestern United States. . . .”79 Thus, the context of conquest, colonialism, race, representation, and state power all come in to play here but only as the backdrop to an insurgent expression of Chicano homeboy masculinity in the barrio and the pinto (prison) contexts. Moreover, these cinematic engagements with the gender/sexual politics of the community suggest that gender and sexual violence is one of the primary pillars of the modern/colonial gender system in the barrio context.

Queering the Homeboy and His Aesthetics

The representations of homeboy masculinity discussed thus far only implicitly dealt with queer sexuality and gender. Yet, the interventions into disrupting a compulsory heteronormative framework integral to the modern/colonial gender system also carry over to understanding the practice and performance of homeboy masculinity. Richard T. Rodríguez begins this work in his groundbreaking essay, “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic.”80 Rodríguez’s intervention recognizes the consistent semiotic struggle related to the aesthetics of young Chicanos of color. Stuart Cosgrove, in his argument about the semiotics and politics of the zoot suit writes: “The zoot-suit was more than the drape-shape of 1940s fashion, . . . it was, in the most direct and obvious ways, an emblem of ethnicity and a way of negotiating an identity.” Cosgrove adds: “The zoot-suit was a refusal: a subcultural gesture that refused to concede to the manners of subservience” and further points out that the zoot suit was “a spectacular reminder that the social order had failed to contain [zoot suiters’] energy and difference.”81 For Chicanas/os, the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 were a literal declaration of war on Chicanas/os and their aesthetics in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times, for example, printed a guide for how to “de-zoot” a pachuco/zoot suiter and effectively endorsed the practice of attacking young Chicanos who wore the zoot suit or anything approximating its style. The process of de-zooting, however, also reveals the ways in which the state—especially through the participation of the police and Navy sailors in de-zooting Chicanas/os—enacted literal and symbolic violence against Chicanas/os that forced the public to voyeuristically confront the brown body and the Chicana/o body politic. In this respect, the process of de-zooting is imbued with an impulse by these dominant white systems (the LAPD and the US military) to expose the brown body to the gaze of a dominant white society in Los Angeles for their pleasure. Thus, Richard T. Rodríguez adds another dimension to the insurgent aesthetics inherited from the pachucas/os and exhibited by the homeboys represented in Hector Silva’s art. In this way, he helps us to understand these homeboy figures and their masculinities/sexualities as at least doubly deviant and certainly multivalent.

Rodríguez’s critical intervention also coincides with explicitly queer homeboy performances that work to challenge the construction of homeboy masculinity as monolithically heteronormative. Joseph Thomas LeMar, better known as the rapper Deadlee, for example, emerged on the hip hop scene as part of what is termed the “homo rap” or “homo hop” movement. Deadlee, like Hector Silva does with his art, makes issues of sexuality/queerness central to his rap lyrics but also deals with racism, police brutality, and other issues affecting the Chicana/o and African American communities in the United States. He is both Chicano and African American. Deadlee, nonetheless, on his 2004 album, Assault with a Deadlee Weapon, seems to reproduce a hypermasculine discourse and performance in his responses to the homophobia of other rappers like Eminem and 50 Cent. Thus, despite his genuine attempts to defend queerness as integral to these communities of color, he arguably continues to perform a racialized masculinity that the dominant discourse attributes to both African American and Chicano cultures.

Dino Dinco, in his 2011 feature-length documentary, Homeboy, by contrast, exclusively privileges the stories of gay Chicano former gang members or “homeboys.” The documentary is one of the first primary texts (along with Silva’s) to directly confront the intersecting lives of gay Chicano gang members. In allowing these gay Chicano gang members to tell their stories, Dinco also importantly reproduces the ethics and politics of the testimonio. These Chicanos, as a result, detail a double-process of coming out that entails coming out to one’s family and coming out to the barrio/gang and, as a result, challenging both.

Homeboys: Imperfect and Insurgent

Homeboy masculinity is, by no means, ideologically or politically pure in practice or performance. It is informed by complex histories of Spanish and American imperialisms and the modern/colonial gender system that emerges from these large-scale events. It is also de/formed by the processes of urbanization—themselves inflected with the legacies of those imperialisms and more contemporary racial formations. Moreover, these processes of urbanization that form the modern barrio are part of the dialectical relationship between barrioization and the barriological. Homeboy masculinity, nevertheless, remains an insurgent form of masculinity whose spirit challenges white hegemonic forms of masculinity and, by extension, a compulsory heteronormative sexuality. This is the point of Fanon, McClintock, and Lugones: that the colonial context reframes the colony as a “domesticated” sphere that renders all of its subjects feminine or feminized, to which the only response is a queer feminist intervention. Homeboy masculinity remains, then, an imperfect and incomplete movement in this direction and, as a result, also reproduces some toxic masculinity manifested by acts of inter- and intra-communal violence. My aim is not to romanticize any figures or any notions of masculinity in the barrio context but to recognize the complexity of the construction and performance of homeboy masculinity. Homeboy masculinity, then, is described by the implicit renditions of Chicano gang members in Boulevard Nights as threats to a heteronormative dominant social order precisely because of the lurking homoerotics of Chicano gangs as racialized homosocial organizations; homeboy masculinity is also embodied by the “homeboys” who go to Chico’s bar described in Richard T. Rodríguez’s “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic”; and, it is the gay homeboys in Dino Dinco’s documentary who share stories of surviving sexual violence and still reaffirm a positive masculinity and queer sexuality in spite of such violence. And, yet, it is also a violence that operates as a vernacular for a subaltern masculine barrio subject who perpetually feels the threat of state violence and the pressures that come with a predatory capitalist system.

Discussion of the Literature

The dominant strand of masculinity studies has historically been focused on responding to concerns about patriarchal social orders, the division of labor, and the like, which lead to gender inequality and gendered violence. That is, these studies are concerned with gendered power relations—concerns that were also raised by the various feminist movements. More contemporary masculinity studies scholars are also concerned with what some call a “crisis of masculinity” and, importantly, level a critique of what R.W. Connell calls hegemonic masculinity. Scholars of de/postcoloniality, additionally, connect the current issues related to the performance, expression, and policing of gender (and class, sexuality, race, etc.) to the onset of conquest and settler colonialism. Gayatri Spivak, in her seminal essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” raises significant concerns about the postcolonial condition, subaltern subjects, and representations related to gender and race in a global context that remain firmly rooted in a settler colonial ideological framework. Anne McClintock, Rey Chow, and Diana Fuss also engage the question of gender and sexuality in the colonial/postcolonial context by revisiting Frantz Fanon’s work but especially Black Skin, White Masks. McClintock, Chow, and Fuss level several critiques of Fanon’s masculinist construction of the postcolony, but McClintock, in a generous reading of Fanon’s nationalism, also notes: “Fanon’s anguished musings on race and sexuality disclose that “colonial desire” is not the same for men and women.” She adds: “Fanon understands brilliantly how colonialism inflicts itself as a domestication of the colony, a reordering of the labor and sexual economy of the people, so as to divert female power into colonial hands and disrupt the patriarchal power of colonized men.”82

For Chicanos, while Samuel Ramos and Octavio Paz are important precursors to the study of gender and masculinity among Mexicans from whom Chicanas/os derive their ethnic identity, the specific intellectual history of the study of Chicano masculinity arguably begins in the Chicana/o movement among activist scholars like Anna NietoGomez, Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, and Alma García. This specific study of Chicano/a masculinity subsequently congeals with Alfredo Mirandé’s work in La Chicana, The Chicano Experience, and especially with Hombres y Machos; Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera; Maxine Baca Zinn’s groundbreaking essay on Chicano masculinity; Tomas Almaguer’s essay “Chicano Men: A Cartography of Homosexual Identity and Behavior”; and other treatments of Chicana/o masculinity by scholars including Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Rosa Linda Fregoso, Frederick Luis Aldama, Michael Hames-García, and Aída Hurtado and Mrinal Sinha.83 These scholars, like María Lugones and Roderick Ferguson, point to the historical/material conditions of conquest and settler colonialism and modern iterations of the colony as central sites for the performance, expression, and policing of gender, sexuality, race, class, and more.84

Homeboy masculinity, as a result, is informed by the complex histories of Spanish and American imperialisms, and the modern/colonial gender system that emerges from these large-scale phenomena. It is also de/formed by the processes of urbanization—themselves inflected with the legacies of those imperialisms and, of course, more contemporary racial formations and other regulatory frameworks of social space. Indeed, the dialectical processes of urbanization—the process of barrioization and the barriological—that form the modern barrio are critical parts of the construction, performance, practice, and policing of homeboy masculinity. Richard T. Rodríguez begins the work of complicating and rearticulating a homeboy image tied to a compulsory heteronormativity and hypermasculinity among Chicanos in his groundbreaking essay, “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic.”85. Other cultural workers like Hector Silva and Dino Dinco have offered insights into a complex performance and embodiment of homeboy masculinity. Nevertheless, more “traditional” and toxic representations of homeboy masculinity persist in works like Luis J. Rodríguez’s Always Running, Michael Pressman’s film Boulevard Nights, and Edward James Olmos’s film American Me.86 Overall, then, homeboy masculinity is, by no means, ideologically or politically pure in practice or performance. It, nevertheless, remains a salient example of an insurgent form of masculinity, born of a barrio literal and cultural vernacular, whose spirit challenges white hegemonic forms of masculinity and, by extension, a compulsory heteronormative sexuality rooted in predatory settler capitalist logics.

Further Reading

Anzaldúa, Gloria E. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987.Find this resource:

    Carrigan, Tim, Bob Connell, and John Lee. “Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity.” In The Masculinity Studies Reader. Edited by Rachel Adams and David Savran, 99–118. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002.Find this resource:

      Espinoza, Dionne. “‘Tanto Tiempo Disfrutamos . . .’: Revisiting the Gender and Sexual Politics of Chicana/o Youth Culture in East Los Angeles in the 1960s.” In Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture & Chicana/o Sexualities. Edited by Alicia Gaspar de Alba, 89–106. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.Find this resource:

        Ferguson, Roderick. Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.Find this resource:

          García, Alma M., ed. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings. New York: Routledge, 1997.Find this resource:

            Hames-García, Michael, and Ernesto Javier Martínez, eds. Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

              Hurtado, Aída, and Mrinal Sinha. Beyond Machismo: Intersectional Latino Masculinities. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016.Find this resource:

                Lugones, María. “The Coloniality of Gender.” Worlds & Knowledges Otherwise Project, Duke University Press, 2008, 1–17.Find this resource:

                  Mirandé, Alfredo. Hombres y Machos: Masculinity and Latino Culture. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.Find this resource:

                    Navarro, José. “Revisiting the Boulevard: The Gender & Sexual Politics of Michael Pressman’s Boulevard Nights.” Journal of Popular Culture 50, no. 4 (2017): 761–777.Find this resource:

                      Navarro, José. “Luis J. Rodriguez’s Always Running: Between Chicano Nationalism and the Left.” In Left in the West. Edited by Gioia Woods. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2018, forthcoming.Find this resource:

                        Navarro, José. “Chicano/a Gang Narratives.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latina/o Literature. Edited by Louis Mendoza, Ben Holguin, Sandra Soto, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018, forthcoming.Find this resource:

                          Olguín, Ben. La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. See especially chapter 3: “Declamatory Pinto Poetry: The Masculinist Poetics and Materialist Politics of Ricardo Sánchez’s Poesía de Chingazos” and chapter 7: “Judy Lucero’s Gynocritical Prison Poetics and Materialist Chicana Politics.”Find this resource:

                            Ramírez, Catherine. The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

                              Rodríguez, Richard T. “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic.” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 31, no. 2 (2006).Find this resource:

                                Soto, Sandra K. Reading Chican@ Like a Queer: The De-Mastery of Desire. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                  Villa, Raúl Homero. Barrio-Logos: Space and Place in Urban Chicano Literature and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000.Find this resource:


                                    (1.) Michael Kimmel and Tristan Bridges, “Masculinity,” Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology, July 27, 2011.

                                    (2.) Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman, eds., Theorizing Masculinities, SAGE Series on Men and Masculinity (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1994), 4.

                                    (3.) See R. W. Connell, Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 185–191. Originally published 1993. Additionally, Tim Carrigan, Connell, and John Lee define hegemonic masculinity in “Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity” as a set of powerful circumstances in which the meanings and practices of masculinity also form a “means of persuasion” through, for example, the mass media; through the division of labor as reflective of the “social definition of tasks as either ‘men’s work’ or ‘women’s work’” alongside “tensions between the gender order and the class order” and the negotiation and enforcements of the meanings and practices of a particular masculinity by the state. See, “Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity” in The Masculinity Studies Reader, eds. Rachel Adams and David Savran (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002), 99–118; quote on page 114. For a more in-depth discussion of the framework of the “modern/colonial gender system,” see Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” in Toward an Anthropology of Women, ed. Rayna R. Reiter (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975), 157–210, but especially María Lugones “The Coloniality of Gender,” in Worlds & Knowledges Otherwise Project (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 1–17.

                                    (4.) See Connell, Masculinities, 185–191.

                                    (5.) Connell, Masculinities, 200.

                                    (6.) Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 191.

                                    (7.) Butler, Gender Trouble, xvii.

                                    (8.) Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context (New York: Routledge, 1995), 5.

                                    (9.) Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 287, 304.

                                    (10.) McClintock, Imperial Leather, 5.

                                    (11.) Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (New York: Grove Press, 1967), 8. Originally published 1952.

                                    (12.) Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 11.

                                    (13.) See, for example, the introduction from Fanon in The Masculinity Studies Reader, 228.

                                    (14.) Rey Chow, “The Politics of Admittance: Female Sexual Agency, Miscengenation, and the Formation of Community in Frantz Fanon,” in Ethics after Idealism: Theory-Culture-Ethnicity-Reading (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 55–73.

                                    (15.) Diana Fuss, Identification Papers (New York: Routledge, 1995), 2.

                                    (16.) Chow, Ethics after Idealism, 58–60.

                                    (17.) McClintock, Imperial Leather, 360–364.

                                    (18.) Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” 279.

                                    (19.) Connell, Masculinities, 202.

                                    (20.) Lugones, “The Coloniality of Gender,” 1–17.

                                    (21.) Anibal Quijano, “Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism and Latin America,” Nepantla: Views from the South 1, no. 3 (2000): 533–580.

                                    (22.) Lugones, “The Coloniality of Gender,” 1.

                                    (23.) Lugones, “The Coloniality of Gender,” 3.

                                    (24.) Lugones, “The Coloniality of Gender,” 4.

                                    (25.) Lugones, “The Coloniality of Gender,” 10–16.

                                    (26.) Brod and Kaufman, Theorizing Masculinities, 5.

                                    (27.) Alma M. García, ed., Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings (New York: Routledge, 1997).

                                    (28.) Alfredo Mirandé, La Chicana; The Chicano Experience; Hombres y Machos; Maxine Baca Zinn, “Chicano Men and Masculinity,” in The Sociology of Gender: A Text Reader, ed. Laura Kramer (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), and Tomas Almaguer, “Chicano Men: A Cartography of Homosexual Identity and Behavior,” in Men’s Lives, 3rd ed., eds. Michael S. Kimmel and Michael A. Messner (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995), 418–431.

                                    (29.) Elizabeth Martinez, “La Chicana,” in García, Chicana Feminist Thought, 32–34.

                                    (30.) Anna NietoGomez, “Sexism in the Movimiento” in García, Chicana Feminist Thought, 98.

                                    (31.) See section “Que no se olividen los hombres” in “La conciencia de la mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness” in Borderlands/La Frontera, ed. Gloria Anzaldúa, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987), 105–107. It should be noted, nonetheless, that the focus on Borderlands is not (and does not have to be) about Chicano men. Indeed, the text is and should be focused on Chicanas. Nevertheless, other Chicana feminist scholars have made significant considerations of the ways in which conquest/colonialism affects the entire community and implicates us all in the modern/colonial sex/gender system.

                                    (32.) NietoGomez, “Sexism in the Movimiento,” 98.

                                    (33.) See Rafael Perez-Torres, Mestizaje: Critical Uses of Race in Chicano Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 51.

                                    (34.) Maxine Baca Zinn, “Chicano Men and Masculinity,” in The Sociology of Gender: A Text Reader, ed. Laura Kramer (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 221.

                                    (35.) Baca Zinn, “Chicano Men and Masculinity,” 229.

                                    (36.) Alfredo Mirandé, Hombres y Machos: Masculinity and Latino Culture (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997), 34–39.

                                    (37.) Mirandé, Hombres y Machos, 35.

                                    (38.) Mirandé, Hombres y Machos, 50–56.

                                    (39.) Mirandé, Hombres y Machos, 35.

                                    (40.) See Anzaldúa, Borderlands, 25–27, in which she begins with the “Bering Strait theory” to explain the origins of indigenous peoples in the Americas, the Aztec myths related to Aztlán, the migration south to Mexico City, and the subsequent return of Chicanas/os to the “homeland.”

                                    (41.) Anzaldúa, Borderlands, Preface.

                                    (42.) Quijano, “Coloniality of Power,” 534–535.

                                    (43.) Anzaldúa, Borderlands, 106.

                                    (44.) Tomas Almaguer, “Chicano Men: A Cartography of Homosexual Identity and Behavior,” in Men’s Lives, 3rd ed., eds. Michael S. Kimmel and Michael A. Messner (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995), 418–431.

                                    (45.) Anzaldúa, Borderlands, 106. Note: The primary issue is that, in this section, Anzaldúa seems to suggest that sexuality alone determines a radical political consciousness about the performance and embodiment of a healthy, decolonized form of masculinity. This assertion relies, however, on simple forms of representation and identity rather than a conscious commitment to a radical egalitarian politics. Obviously, examples abound of people like Richard Rodríguez, the author of Hungry of Memory (1982) and Days of Obligation (1992), who remind us that sexuality alone does not determine a radical egalitarian politics.

                                    (46.) See Connell, Masculinities; Brod and Kaufman, Theorizing Masculinities; and Kimmel and Bridges “Masculinity.”

                                    (47.) Cherrie Moraga, “Queer Aztlán: The Re-Formation of the Chicano Tribe,” in Queer Cultures, eds. Deborah Carlin and Jennifer Di Grazia (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004), 225.

                                    (48.) Moraga, “Queer Aztlán,” 225.

                                    (49.) Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back (Watertown, MA: Persephone, 1981).

                                    (50.) Carla Trujillo, ed., Living Chicana Theory (Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press, 1998).

                                    (51.) David William Foster, Chicano/Latino Homoerotic Identities (New York: Garland, 1999).

                                    (52.) Alicia Gaspar de Alba, ed., Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture & Chicana/o Sexualities (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), Introduction, pp. xxii. Here Gaspar de Alba is also referencing Eve Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

                                    (53.) Frederick Luis Aldama, Brown on Brown: Chicana/o Representations of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005); and Aldama, Critical Mappings of Arturo Islas’s Fictions (Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Press, 2008).

                                    (54.) Daniel Contreras, Unrequited Love and Gay Latino Culture: What Have You Done to My Heart? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

                                    (55.) Adelaida del Castillo and Gibrán Guido, eds., Queer in Aztlán: Chicano Male Recollections of Consciousness and Coming Out (San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic, 2014).

                                    (56.) Sandra K. Soto, Reading Chican@ Like a Queer: The De-Mastery of Desire (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010), 14.

                                    (57.) Soto, Reading Chican@ Like a Queer, 10.

                                    (58.) Richard T. Rodríguez, Next of Kin: The Family in Chicana/o Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 135.

                                    (59.) See Raquel Marquez, Louis Mendoza, and Steve Blanchard, “Neighborhood Formation on the West Side of San Antonio, Texas,” Latino Studies 5, no. 3 (2007): 288–316.

                                    (60.) See, again, Richard T. Rodríguez, Next of Kin, 135; and Soto, Reading Chican@ Like a Queer, 14.

                                    (61.) Luis J. Rodríguez, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. (Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1993).

                                    (62.) See Monica Brown, Gang Nation: Delinquent Citizens in Puerto Rican, Chicano, and Chicana Narratives (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002).

                                    (63.) José Navarro, “Luis J. Rodriguez’s Always Running: Between Chicano Nationalism and the Left,” in Left in the West, ed. Gioia Woods (University of Nevada Press, 2018, in press). See also Navarro, “Chicano Gang Narratives,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latina/o Literature, ed. Louis Mendoza, Sandra K. Soto, Ben Olguin, et al. (Forthcoming).

                                    (64.) Angie Chabram-Dernersesian, ed. The Chicana/o Cultural Studies Reader(New York: Routledge, 2006).

                                    (65.) Rosa-Linda Fregoso, The Bronze Screen (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xvii.

                                    (66.) Fregoso, Bronze Screen, xxiii, 1993.

                                    (67.) Richard Mora, “Abjection and the Cinematic Cholo: The Chicano Gang Stereotype in Sociohistoric Context,” Thymos 5, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 125–126.

                                    (68.) See, for example, Christine List, Chicano Images: Refiguring Ethnicity in Mainstream Film (London: Garland Publication, 1996) especially Chapter III: “Mythic Proportions: Creating Raza Heroes in Zoot Suit and La Bamba,” and Rosa-Linda Fregoso, “The Representation of Cultural Identity in ‘Zoot Suit,’” Theory and Society 22, no. 5, Special Issue: Masculinities (October 1993): 659–674.

                                    (69.) Rosa-Linda Fregoso, “The Representation of Cultural Identity in ‘Zoot Suit,’” Theory and Society 22, no. 5, Special Issue: Masculinities (October 1993): 661.

                                    (70.) Rosa-Linda Fregoso, The Bronze Screen (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 132.

                                    (71.) Soto, Reading Chican@ Like a Queer: The De-Mastery of Desire (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010); and Richard T. Rodriguez, Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), p. 135.

                                    (72.) José Navarro, “Revisiting the Boulevard: The Gender & Sexual Politics of Michael Pressman’s Boulevard Nights,” Journal of Popular Culture 50, no. 4 (2017), 761–777.

                                    (73.) See Richard T. Rodríguez, “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic,” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 31, no. 2 (2006); and Navarro, “Revisiting the Boulevard.”

                                    (74.) Following the release of the film, it was widely reported that the Mexican Mafia attempted to extort Edward James Olmos and wanted to kill him. See Jesse Katz, “Film Leaves a Legacy of Fear for More Than a Year,” Los Angeles Times, June 13, 1993, for more details.

                                    (75.) Katz, “Film Leaves a Legacy of Fear.”

                                    (76.) Fregoso, Bronze Screen, 128.

                                    (77.) Frederick Luis Aldama, “Penalizing Chicano/a Bodies in Edward J. Olmos’s American Me,” in Decolonial Voices: Chicana and Chicano Cultural Studies in the 21st Century, ed. Arturo J. Aldama and Naomi H. Quiñonez (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), 80.

                                    (78.) Luz Calvo, “Lemme Stay, I Want to Watch: Ambivalence in Borderlands Cinema,” in Latina/o Popular Culture, ed. Michelle Habell-Pallán and Mary Romero (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 75.

                                    (79.) Calvo, “Lemme Stay,” 75.

                                    (80.) Richard T. Rodríguez, “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic.”

                                    (81.) Stuart Cosgrove, “The Zoot Suit and Style Warfare,” History Workshop Journal 18 (Autumn 1984): 77.

                                    (82.) McClintock, Imperial Leather, 360–364.

                                    (83.) See, for example, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, ed. Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture & Chicana/o Sexualities. 1st ed. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002); Rosa Linda Fregoso, “The Representation of Cultural Identity in ‘Zoot Suit,’” Theory and Society 22, no. 5, Special Issue: Masculinities (October 1993): 659–674; Frederick Luis Aldama, Brown on Brown: Chicana/o Representations of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005); Michael Hames-García and Ernesto Javier Martínez, Eds. Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011); and Aída Hurtado and Mrinal Sinha, Beyond Machismo: Intersectional Latino Masculinities (Chicana Matters) (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016).

                                    (84.) See, for example, Lugones, “The Coloniality of Gender”; and Roderick Ferguson, Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).

                                    (85.) Richard T. Rodríguez, “Queering the Homeboy Aesthetic.”

                                    (86.) Luis J. Rodríguez, Always Running; Michael Pressman, dir., Boulevard Nights (1979); and Edward James Olmos, dir., American Me (1992).