‘Who is looking out for sissy Brown boys?’: TQ meets Queer Xicano Chisme

Michael Paramo interviews activist Queer Xicano Chisme, discussing the inception and ascension of his online platform, his inspirations and aspirations, as well as his greatest and most difficult moments.

The self-described birth of Queer Xicano Chisme, an opinion blog “where one Queer Xicano aims to empower and be a voice (read: not THE voice) for queer Xicanitos through the spread of some hot chisme,” occurred on June 28th, 2016, the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The blog’s creator describes himself as a “Social Justice Brujo, Slutty Hood Nerd, Political Desmadroso” and, perhaps most powerfully, as “a living study on Queer Xicanismo.” The purpose of Queer Xicano Chisme is to focus on the “lived experience and embodied knowledge of ONE Queer Xicano in discussions of social justice, sex, pop culture, comedy, politics, cultura, Queer Xicanismo, and chisme,” which is defined by the creator as “gossip, oral history, shade, news, and ancestral knowledge as practiced by many Chicanx/Latinx folks.”

Over the past few months I have followed Queer Xicano Chisme via social media and have become enthralled with his much needed presence. Many of his discussions focus on the intersections of identities, especially, but not exclusively, those which he himself embodies. Ultimately, this is why I wanted to create this interview with this amazing person, and I am so thankful that he agreed to share more about his beautiful personal life and powerful activism with me as well as The Queerness.

TQ: How did you originally conceive of the idea for Queer Xicano Chisme? What was your motivation behind creating this platform?

Queer Xicano Chisme: I originally came up with the idea of creating Queer Xicano Chisme a week or so after the Pulse shooting. I was so distraught and looking for answers in the many blogs I followed but couldn’t find a voice that reflected the actual victims of the massacre. All posts were being made by white LGBT folks or cisgender/heterosexual Latinxs, the intersection of Latinx/Xicanx and LGBT was missing from the narrative of Pulse. Particularly, a Brown Queer Latinx/Xicanx narrative, was nowhere to be found amidst reports of this tragedy. So I asked myself? Who is going to advocate for other boys that look like me? Who is looking out for sissy Brown boys?

That week following Pulse, I made so many posts on my personal Facebook page about my feelings and thoughts, I shared resources and articles that I thought might help my QTPOC peers. Even though I was already a popular community organizer at the time, everything I shared would reach more people than I ever thought possible. However, this also came with a rise in visibility to my personal Facebook page and a lot of people (many of them strangers) started seeing me as a resource as opposed to a person. My inbox became full of questions or requests for mental or emotional labor that I just couldn’t deal with. So, I came up with the idea of creating the blog as a way to reach more people, without having all my personal information readily accessible to them.

Who is going to advocate for other boys that look like me? Who is looking out for sissy Brown boys?

Was there anyone who particularly inspired you as you first started Queer Xicano Chisme? If so, what about them inspired you?

So many folks inspired me in very different ways. My Facebook blog was most influenced by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez (creator of Latina Rebels), Cassandra (creator of Xicanisma), and Kat Blaque; all three of these women have also been incredibly supportive of my platform, either by sharing my posts or sending me positive affirmations. Prisca’s writing is so powerful and yet, accessible, it’s influenced how I approach my longer posts, after all, I’m writing for my people, not academia. Cassandra’s sense of humor and commentary on her Xicanisma posts reminded me to ensure that my blog was full of life, personality, and charisma, and not just some page where I dumped articles. However, it was a conversation with Kat Blaque we had one day when she was speaking at my campus that sparked the thought of creating my own platform. I had asked her about working for Buzzfeed, since I was interested in writing for social media, but she strongly advised me not to pursue that, and instead build my own platform. And so, I did.

On twitter, so many people have influenced how I approach my use of that platform. Watching @AngryBlackHoeMo, Anthony J. Williams (@anthoknees), Daniel (@_danalvarenga), Zahira Kelly (@bad_dominicana), and Trudy (@theTrudz) work magic on twitter taught me how to… well tweet, really, I had not idea how to use twitter until maybe late August. @AngryBlackHoeMo’s sense of humor and “no fucks given” attitude has made me unafraid to tackle any topic. Anthony’s honesty, vulnerability, and high interaction rate inspired me to be more open to talk about my mental health, as well as engage and create dialogue for my community. Daniel’s concise and well researched threads on Latin America really taught me how to stay in my lane and how to develop ideas WITH my community. Zahira’s bluntness and incredibly nuanced social critiques allowed me to see how we can pass down our embodied knowledge by making it accessible to others, while also writing specifically for our own community. Additionally, Trudy has influenced how I develop frameworks and creating original work that I can develop over time, she’s had a huge impact in how I cite other writers and how I navigate twitter overall.

Queer Xicano Chisme emphasizes the importance of chisme or, “gossip, oral history, shade, news, and ancestral knowledge.” Do you think chisme functions as a unifying force for queer Xicanx/Latinx people? Do you think it can also potentially be divisionary?

I’ve extensively covered the concept of “Chisme” because it’s important to me as someone who needed Chisme to survive. My popular thread on Chisme is here, but essentially, chisme has historically been a form of communication attributed to women and femmes, so naturally our society has demonized it. However, growing up in the hood as a sissy Brown boy in a time before social media was what it is today, word of mouth was how I found resources and community. So, for me and many others like me, chisme was a tool of strength, growth, and community. Chisme is how we passed on information through secret slang that would protect us from being outed.

I know this is going to sound messed up but for me, chisme in the form of “shade” helped me develop a thicker skin. I know this isn’t the same for everyone, but as someone who was disowned by my family when I came out, the Queer men and Transwomen that gave me a home, helped strengthen me by ensuring I knew how to take a joke and/or criticism. Aka, they hella shaded me. This helped me develop a quick wit and allowed me build community with folks who gave each other tough love, because it’s all we knew in this life.

Of course, chisme can also be harmful. After all, the Latin root of the word chisme, “schisma,” literally means division. When false, chisme can irreparably harm reputations and livelihoods. So, it’s always important to get our facts straight. However, it’s also important to note that this definition of chisme as a division, was not inherent to what chisme evolved from, that is, the Oral Tradition of our Indigenous ancestors. The Oral Tradition was and is how many of our people keep historical records, family histories, customs, traditions, and recipes that would otherwise be lost forever.

So, for me and many others like me, chisme was a tool of strength, growth, and community. Chisme is how we passed on information through secret slang that would protect us from being outed.

Although Queer Xicano Chisme was only created on June 28th, 2016, it has already risen to considerable notoriety on social media platforms. What are your goals for the platform as your audience continues to expand?

Oi. Notoriety ey? Is that not a bad word? Lol.

Yeah, it’s taken off beyond my wildest expectations. I remember when I first built the page and my twitter account, I was like “if I get 1,000 ‘likes’ on my page and 500 followers on twitter, I’ll be set,” and here we are now 6,500+ “likes” on Facebook and 3,000 followers on twitter later. I’m still surprised that anyone is interested in what I have to say. I feel like I sound so basic sometimes. Yet the messages I get from people, many of them fellow sissy Brown and Black boys, are so affirming.

As my platform continues to expand, I hope to uplift other creators by beginning a series of interviews where I can spotlight different Brown and Black LGBTQIA creators. My newly created IG has begun this work by showcasing LGBTQIA Latinx/Xicanx folks, QTPOC, as well as other creators of marginalized identities. I also hope to have meet ups with folks where we can talk about our growing conceptions of Queer Xicanismo and Latinidad, two topics that I cover extensively on my twitter account. Additionally, I would like to be a bigger advocate for male victims of sexual assault and for mental health. Eventually, expanding to a Youtube channel or podcast is something that I have a high interest in.

What has been the most difficult challenge or moment that you have encountered in managing this platform? Has there been any particular challenge(s) that have made you question the continuation of the platform?

Virality. Going viral has been the most challenging thing. I hate it. I hate going viral. But also, I love it? I hate virality because it exposes me to a lot of hatred from bigots and intellectual dishonesty or elitism from academics and other folks with an inexplicable vendetta against me. Hate from my own community has been the most difficult thing to process and there was a time when I really doubted my ability to have conversations on social justice because some academics and other haters made me feel really inadequate. However, I moved past this with encouragement from a lot of people I really admire. There’s nothing quite as affirming as having your role models praise your work.

However, I think the one time where I was really like “SHUT IT DOWN” was after this election. I read so much on cyber security and how this new administration would ensure to silence and persecute dissent that it really made me reconsider being so public. However, I felt that I owed it to the sissy Brown boys I hope to advocate for, to continue my platform.

I feel like I sound so basic sometimes. Yet the messages I get from people, many of them fellow sissy Brown and Black boys, are so affirming.

In regards to your activism and/or personal life, what would you say has been your greatest moment of success since the inception of Queer Xicano Chisme?

Getting recognized by some of my heroes has been the greatest achievement this year. Zahira Kelly (bad_dominicana), Prisca Dorcas, and Jennicet Gutiérrez have been incredibly affirming and publicly uplifted my work in ways that have made it all worth it.

Also, hearing about my friends tell me that their students (college and high school age) love my work, makes me feel like I’m not just screaming into the void, make me feel like my work matters.

What are your plans for the future, both in relation to your activism and personal life?

Personally my plans for the future would be to find my community in this new town I moved to, date more, love more, and write more original content to help map out exactly what Queer Xicanismo is or can be. As far as my activism, I hope to organize with radical folks and protect those that will undoubtedly be under attack under this new administration. I want to do my part to ensure that the most marginalized folks are protected and have the possibility of a bright future.

Also, hearing about my friends tell me that their students (college and high school age) love my work, makes me feel like I’m not just screaming into the void, make me feel like my work matters.

I would like to thank Queer Xicano Chisme one more time for his amazing talent and time put into this interview. Thank you.

Connect with Queer Xicano Chisme: FacebookTwitterInstagram, Website.

Follow Michael on Twitter (@Michael_Paramo)

Have your say!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.