Jesús Manuel Ramos Otero was born in Manatí, Puerto Rico, and spent his childhood in his home town, living in the second location of the old building of the Puerto Rican Casino of Manatí. He began his studies at the Colegio La Inmaculada in Manatí. His family then moved to San Juan when he was seven years old. He later attended the University of Puerto Rico High School in Río Piedras (1960–1965) and went on to receive a B.A. in Social Sciences (with a major in sociology and a minor in political sciences) from the University of Puerto Rico, graduating in 1969. In 1979 he received an M.A. in literature from New York University. While living in New York, he worked as a social researcher, and later as a professor at diverse universities including Rutgers University, LaGuardia Community College, York College, and Lehman College. He also established a small publishing house, El Libro Viaje. He organized conferences and gatherings of Puerto Rican writers in the United States such as Giannina Braschi and Luis Rafael Sanchez. He is best remembered as a poet and the author of short stories, but he also wrote a novel and several essays on literary criticism.
Manuel Ramos Otero, 1988, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1124011)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitalMany but not all of Ramos Otero's works focus on autobiographical characters of gay Puerto Rican men who are writers and live in New York City.
One of Ramos Otero's most interesting stories is "La última plena que bailó Luberza" (Luberza's Last Plena Dance), which he published in 1975 in the literary journal Zona de carga y descarga alongside a story by Rosario Ferré ("Cuando las mujeres quieren a los hombres"). Ramos Otero's and Ferré's stories were based on the life of Isabel Luberza Oppenheimer (better known as Isabel la Negra), a famous madam who ran a brothel in the city of Ponce from the 1930s to the 1960s. Ramos Otero's story was later included in his book El cuento de la Mujer del Mar (The Story of the Woman of the Sea).
In his work, Ramos Otero openly defends gay viewpoints and feminist positions. For him, homosexuality represented an outsider status; he did not advocate for full integration, but rather explored the situation of marginal subjects. He also discussed his HIV status and the prejudice and discrimination faced by people affected by AIDS. Most of his production has not been translated and is only available in Spanish.
Numerous literary scholars have written about Ramos Otero, including Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, Jossianna Arroyo, Juan G. Gelpí, and José Quiroga. Rubén Ríos Ávila has compared Ramos Otero's experiences in New York to those of the exiled Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes has written about Ramos Otero in the context of the Puerto Rican queer diaspora, comparing him to other artists such as Luz María Umpierre, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, and Erika Lopez.
Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader by Michael Hames-Garcia & Ernesto Javier Martinez
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press Books (April 13, 2011)
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The authors of the essays in this unique collection explore the lives and cultural contributions of gay Latino men in the United States, while also analyzing the political and theoretical stakes of gay Latino studies. In new essays and influential previously published pieces, Latino scholars based in American studies, ethnic studies, history, performance studies, and sociology consider gay Latino scholarly and cultural work in relation to mainstream gay, lesbian, and queer academic discourses and the broader field of Chicano and Latino studies. They also critique cultural explanations of gay Latino sexual identity and behavior, examine artistic representations of queer Latinidad, and celebrate the place of dance in gay Latino culture. Designed to stimulate dialogue, the collection pairs each essay with a critical response by a prominent Latino/a or Chicana/o scholar. Terms such as gay, identity, queer, and visibility are contested throughout the volume; the significance of these debates is often brought to the fore in the commentaries. The essays in Gay Latino Studies complement and overlap with the groundbreaking work of lesbians of color and critical race theorists, as well as queer theorists and gay and lesbian studies scholars. Taken together, they offer much-needed insight into the lives and perspectives of gay, bisexual, and queer Latinos, and they renew attention to the politics of identity and coalition.
Contributors. Tomás Almaguer, Luz Calvo, Lionel Cantú,, Daniel Contreras, Catriona Rueda Esquibel, Ramón García, Ramón A. Gutiérrez, Michael Hames-García, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, María Lugones, Ernesto J. Martínez, Paula M. L. Moya, José Esteban Muñoz, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Ricardo L. Ortiz, Daniel Enrique Pérez, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Richard T. Rodríguez, David Román, Horacio N. Roque Ramírez, Antonio Viego.
Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles by Thomas Glave
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press Books (June 10, 2008)
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The first book of its kind, Our Caribbean is an anthology of lesbian and gay writing from across the Antilles. The author and activist Thomas Glave has gathered outstanding fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and poetry by little-known writers together with selections by internationally celebrated figures such as José Alcántara Almánzar, Reinaldo Arenas, Dionne Brand, Michelle Cliff, Audre Lorde, Achy Obejas, and Assotto Saint. The result is an unprecedented literary conversation on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experiences throughout the Caribbean and its far-flung diaspora. Many selections were originally published in Spanish, Dutch, or creole languages; some are translated into English here for the first time.
The thirty-seven authors hail from the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Suriname, and Trinidad. Many have lived outside the Caribbean, and their writing depicts histories of voluntary migration as well as exile from repressive governments, communities, and families. Many pieces have a political urgency that reflects their authors’ work as activists, teachers, community organizers, and performers. Desire commingles with ostracism and alienation throughout: in the evocative portrayals of same-sex love and longing, and in the selections addressing religion, family, race, and class. From the poem “Saturday Night in San Juan with the Right Sailors” to the poignant narrative “We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?” to an eloquent call for the embrace of difference that appeared in the Nassau Daily Tribune on the eve of an anti-gay protest, Our Caribbean is a brave and necessary book.
Contributors: José Alcántara Almánzar, Aldo Alvarez, Reinaldo Arenas, Rane Arroyo, Jesús J. Barquet, Marilyn Bobes, Dionne Brand, Timothy S. Chin, Michelle Cliff, Wesley E. A. Crichlow,
Mabel Rodríguez Cuesta, Ochy Curiel, Faizal Deen, Pedro de Jesús, R. Erica Doyle, Thomas Glave,
Rosamond S. King, Helen Klonaris, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Audre Lorde, Shani Mootoo,
Anton Nimblett, Achy Obejas, Leonardo Padura Fuentes, Virgilio Piñera, Patricia Powell, Kevin Everod Quashie, Juanita Ramos, Colin Robinson, Assotto Saint, Andrew Salkey, Lawrence Scott,
Makeda Silvera, H. Nigel Thomas, Rinaldo Walcott, Gloria Wekker, Lawson Williams.
Entiendes?: Queer Readings, Hispanic Writings (Series Q) by Emilie L. Bergmann & Paul Julian Smith
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 1995)
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"¿Entiendes?" is literally translated as "Do you understand? Do you get it?" But those who do "get it" will also hear within this question a subtler meaning: "Are you queer? Are you one of us?" The issues of gay and lesbian identity represented by this question are explored for the first time in the context of Spanish and Hispanic literature in this groundbreaking anthology.
Combining intimate knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures with contemporary queer theory, these essays address texts that share both a common language and a concern with lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities. Using a variety of approaches, the contributors tease the homoerotic messages out of a wide range of works, from chronicles of colonization in the Caribbean to recent Puerto Rican writing, from the work of Cervantes to that of the most outrageous contemporary Latina performance artists. This volume offers a methodology for examining work by authors and artists whose sexuality is not so much open as "an open secret," respecting, for example, the biographical privacy of writers like Gabriela Mistral while responding to the voices that speak in their writing. Contributing to an archeology of queer discourses, ¿Entiendes? also includes important studies of terminology and encoded homosexuality in Argentine literature and Caribbean journalism of the late nineteenth century.
Whether considering homosexual panic in the stories of Borges, performances by Latino AIDS activists in Los Angeles, queer lives in turn-of-the-century Havana and Buenos Aires, or the mapping of homosexual geographies of 1930s New York in Lorca’s "Ode to Walt Whitman," ¿Entiendes? is certain to stir interest at the crossroads of sexual and national identities while proving to be an invaluable resource.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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