Paul Julian Smith and Emilie
L.
Bergmann
Introduction
Questions
of
Homosexuality-Questions
of
Identity and Community
Entiendes?: literally "Do you understand?"; figuratively "Are you queer?"
By giving this collection of critical essays, the first of its kind, a question for
a title, we are not only making a gesture of respect toward those Spanish-
speaking lesbians and gays who use the term themselves (including the
Comunidad Gay de Madrid, who named their newsletter
~Entiendes?);
we
are also alluding to the radically open nature of a field which is only just
emerging into visibility and whose very existence poses a number of ques-
tions (see Foster). One such question is the relation between homosexu-
alities in Spain and in Spanish America. Here it is important to note and
to regret that there are no historical studies for Spanish-speaking nations
comparable to those which exist for Britain and the United States. It is
for this reason that we include, later in the introduction, brief accounts
of some aspects of lesbian and gay history in the Spanish-speaking world.
What is more, the very concept of nationality is called into question by
the prevalence of exile, whether forced or voluntary, among those writers
who have identified as lesbian or gay. Representative of these are Cuban
Reinaldo Arenas, living and dying in the United States; Spanish novelist
Juan Goytisolo leaving Franco's Spain for Paris and North Mrica; Mexi-
can Sara Levi-Calderon pressured to leave Mexico City for San Francisco
by her scandalized family; and Cristina Peri Rossi forced to leave Uruguay
for Barcelona. If the writers and performance artists treated in this volume
have a home or a nation it is not a geographical territory but rather the
multiple and varied forms of the Spanish language itself.
If the "field" of Hispanic literatures is necessarily and productively frag-
Previous Page Next Page