On Sept. 12, Vives Q kicked off the start of the final quarter of the year with "Reimagining Queer Revolution" as part of its Second Tuesdays presentations.
Now celebrating its fifth year, this edition of Vives Q featured live interviews ( with Emmanuel Garcia moderating ) with LGBTQ and immigration activists Alexis Martinez and Tania Cordova as well as a variety of performances that included juggling, dance, live music and spoken word. The event took place at The National Museum of Mexican Art.
After a short social opening that included a small buffet, emcee Antonio Elizondo greeted the packed room by asking, "How do you reimagine a queer revolution?" He then introduced Vives Q team member Reyna Ortiz, who acknowledged the recent passing of trans ally Dr. Edwin Miller M.D.
Garcia then took the stage and introduced Martinez, who spoke candidly about her past growing up in the Harold Ickes projects, heading a street gang in Chicago's Chinatown and becoming a volunteer worker with the United Farm Workers Union and the anti-Vietnam War movement in the late '60s in California.
She said that throughout her youth she harbored a secret that she knew, if her peers found out, could get her killed and she went through the ordeal of leading a double life. ( When she told her mother she was gay, she responded by calling the police. ) Although she defied the draft in Chicago, the FBI eventually caught up with her in California and jailed her for five months. After being released, Martinez met her wife in 1976 and started a family while trying to submerge her trans feelings. This led to a period of extreme unhappiness as she began drinking and doing cocaine, Martinez said. Finally, in 2000, she accepted herself, saying, "I'm living the proof rather than trying to prove my identity to others."
Cordova said her story started in Mexico when her family found out she was gay. Moving to the United States, she got involved in circuit parties and drugsusing and selling. She was also introduced to La Cueva Nightclub and the legendary Miss Ketty, who took her under her wing. A firm believer in Santa Maria, Cordova would have dreams that eventually came true. For example, in one dream, she was at her own funeral; subsequently, she overdosed four times. After her final overdose, she was pronounced clinically dead.
She said she promptly quit doing drugs but continued to sell them. Cordova had another dream where she saw herself being arrested but instead of making a change, this time she kept selling. A short time later she did get arrested; however, instead of a lengthy prison term, she was deported. Since then, she has devoted herself to spirituality and helping members of the LGBTQ community through The LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition and Translatin@Coalition-Chicago Chapter.
When asked about younger generations of trans individuals Cordova said, "We have to help them. A lot of kids have a tendency to commit suicide. I had a lot of friends who couldn't handle being trans or gay and they killed themselves," adding, "We have to listen and understand those kids and help them."
When asked about "queer revolution" Cordova said, "It's very simplebe here, be queer, be individual and be out there. And what is 'queer?' Who is 'queer?' We're normal."
After the interviews, the night got festive as a varied selection of artists performed. Activist Victor Guzman, poet Poetic Justice and spoken-word artist NIKI GEE performed monologues. Guitarist/vocalist Jose Alfredo sang a well -received piece while juggler Fabian Arana and actress/dancer Isaura Flores wowed the audience with their energetic performances.
Special thanks for the event were given to Reeling Film Fest 35, VMCREATIV, The National Museum of Mexican Art and DJ Myq Moon. Community partners for the event included The Chicago Freedom School, CALOR, Project VIDA, United Latino Pride, VIDA/SIDA and Gozamos.
Vives Q is an independent cultural arts project committed to creating an LGBTQ movement building experience through art, music, spoken word, dance, and oral history designed to enable intergenerational dialogue across multiple identities and communities. The last Vives Q event of the year will be Saturday, Nov. 9, at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Follow Vives Q online for exclusive content and updates.