It’s been more than 10 years since our last kiss of Latino gay lit.Writer Charles Rice-González says the last time a group of Latino gay fiction appeared in print was the 1999 collection “Bésame Mucho,” edited by Jaime Manrique. A flurry of other anthologies of fiction, nonfiction and poetry followed.
And then nothing.
So like a man – gay or otherwise – who comes back into our lives as if nothing happened, that’s how it seems with the new book “From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction,” edited by Rice-González and Charlie Vázquez, both from the Bronx.
Though billed as “new,” much of the writing feels familiar, picking up on classic narrative themes like the coming-out confessional and tales of unrequited love.
It’s like “he” never left – the collective “he” composed of 29 gay, male, Latino writers who come from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Nearly half of the contributors live in the New York area. A local reading is set for Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the LGBT Center, 208 W. 13th St.
The stories vary – from a 7-year-old boy’s birthday party to the searing account of two gay teens crossing from Guatemala, through Mexico and into the United States – but Rice-González, 47, who was born in Puerto Rico, finds a common thread.
“There’s a lot of longing – wanting and not getting,” he says. “A lot of the stories deal with families and neighborhoods. That’s what I find with gay men of color in general.”
But this latest survey of Latino gay fiction also seems strung together by a knotty thread of violence. Kids are abused. Thugs on street corners threaten.
That 7-year-old birthday boy, emotionally battered by his father, turns into the chilling lead in a revenge drama usually reserved for TV movies of the week.
Even the fizzy, fiercely funny account “Orchard Beach, Section Nine,” about Joey, or La Joey, “one of the Bronx’s true reigning cha-cha queens,” is about a street fight. After he rearranges a straight boy’s face when he gets all up in his, La Joey announces, “Remember. I was a man before I was a lady.”