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The Westside Has Eyes


On Monday night, while I recovered from my first (and might I add very enlightening) blogosphere debate on the ups and downs of welfare/education/gay rights, I found myself in the neighborhood I know as Home, probably because I needed something familiar and calming to help me understand what the hell my purpose was in this world. 

I'd spent the whole day feeling terribly misunderstood, thinking out loud to myself like a mad woman (nothing against mad people; they're the best kind) while people stared shamelessly, attempting to convince those around me that I was not the judgmental, probably upper-class queer Latina that they thought I was based on the "welfare blog" I'd written.  At the end of the day, I just felt bad.  I felt bad for the woman I portrayed, for not approaching her to ask what her story was, for instead creating it in my mind, for not painting the picture I meant to by bringing her to my blog, for not knowing if my work was worthwhile, for wondering if I'd sold out, for disappointing my readers. 

So I'm standing there, at the corner of Guadalupe and South Brazos, and my mind is still racing.  I'm about to partake in the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's "Quince Shorts," an evening highlighting 15 short film selections from the San Antonio Neighborhood Film Project competition and otherwise part of the center's "Cine en el Barrio" series. 

I'm watching the first short film - perfectly titled "Mi Comunidad" - and I see my own neighborhood, staring back at my artistically.  Immediately, my already sure-footed belief in our cultural awakening is validated.  The images, buildings, and memories of my childhood and adolescence past were being mastered by film as an artistic expression of culture.  The murals of the Cassiano Courts that faced the home where my grandparents once lived, before their souls went up to heaven.  San Juan de los Lagos Church, where we went to mass before we buried them.  And Lerma's Nite Club and Little Flower Basilica and Ray's Drive Inn and Cinderella Bakery, and all the beautiful places in between that I'd always known as ours - that is, Property of El Weso.

And I'm thinking to myself.  I came from that neighborhood, and I'm still here, loving it, remembering it, and attempting to bring its glory to those who live naively unaware of its presence.  I'm not that person, who has moved away and forgotten.  I'm not that woman who looks down on my gente.  I'm not that person who is better, just because I went to college.  But I knew that my words had implied it all.  So I ask you, my Chicana/o community, my LGBTQ readers, and our allies, don't forget me yet. 

Let me know what I can do better, what you'd like to see written, or simply tell me about what's going on in that beautiful mind of yours:

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