Sneak Peek of my interview with Cristy C Road! To read the full thing and to check out the 50 pg edition purchase Muchacha’s brand new issue “Brown Queen: Latina Voices of the 21st Century” HERE!
DS- I want to begin with asking you some questions, including a few about your recent graphic novel Spit and Passion.
DS- In Spit and Passion you write: “Green day explained a life I wanted to create for myself- an underworld where people like me could exist in” (55). In what ways do you see music influencing marginalized youth (queer, poc, etc) in the modern day compared to the early-mid 1990’s? How do you think this process has changed or remained the same?
CR- I think the concept of gathering inspiration from angry radical musicians who have a powerful voice remains the same; but Its difficult to identify what cultural icons kids access these days because of what the mainstream media is embracing. Theres a lot of intense reality Television out there and there isnt the kinds of music programming that there used to be that focused on artists (120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps, Alternative Nation, MTV Jams, etc.) —— I think that if television/mainstream pop culture is what kids primarily have access to, the really radical icons come so few and far between. I was really inspired by Nicky Minaj when she came out on TV and I think kids got a lot from her; kids really loved Lady Gaga and that was a really cute of era; but I really think there is a lack of “alternative” voices in mainstream pop culture. The weird thing nowadays is, however, that kids have THE INTERNET. And theres things like YOUTUBE and TUMBLR and I dont even know how to make my way around those things, in regards to discovering new art. My discovery of the “underground” through a band that was on television is a timeless experience, though. I think that although underground politically charged subcultures are exposed on TV; the core of them still exist in the underground, and its still a journey (for youth) to discover it.
DS- An important theme in your book seemed to center around the different ways that “coming out” may look like depending on one’s race or culture. I think that this is an issue that goes unaddressed and people who stay in the closet are often judged as cowardly, etc. Do you think that Spit and Passion can serve as a guide for other young queer Latinas or POC to reconcile the fears of cultural exile as a result of coming out and feeling a loss of identity as a result of not coming out?
CR- I wouldnt go as far as calling it a “guide”, since its my experience and we all have individual experiences; but I do hope that it can be some kind of beacon of light, or message saying that their timeline (as far as discovering gender, sexuality, and identity) is completely up to them and their individual process. And if they choose to compromise with their family/culture in order to dismiss whiteness as part of their coming out; then more power to them!!!! But its SO HARD to see that, or even feel safe doing that, when you are young and alone as a queer. I certainly ended up feeling alone and lost in PUNK a lot of the time, until I found my queer and POC punks to share a life with.
DS- I appreciated how you incorporated Catholicism into your story. Specifically, I was intrigued when you write about La Virgen De La Caridad and how we will never know exactly who she was because “her history has already been destroyed by patriarchy” (35). As a Latina woman who has also reappropriated Catholic religious figures, such as La Virgin de Guadalupe, I found this idea fascinating. In what ways can religious symbolism be a source of empowerment for Latin@s and other POC?
CR- I feel so intense about reclaiming spirituality, because that connection to nature/the earth/the universe/the “goddess”/dieties was taken away from us as queers who were raised Catholic. We were told that our identities were frowed upon by the spiritual powers that be. I felt like I embraced a really atheist mindset, but I was secretly obsessed with spirituality. And I always wondered how an interest in social and environmental justice could even exist without a connection to the universe. I eventually developed my connections to the universe—- I got into reading tarot, and I got into my own spirits and saints. I connect a lot more with Santeria; and Ive learned to see La Virgen De La Caridad as a female image of power that represents my past and my family’s past. Santeria was always frowned upon (feared by) Catholics, and as Ive grown connected to the universe through my experiences as an artist; Ive felt really powerful and cleansed by (mentally) destroying that war between Cuban saints—- Its kind of what I had to do in oder to further destroy the homophobic agenda of Catholicism in the first place.