fine art

August 11, 2011

i go to
the museum
of your fine art.

admire the artistic
sculpture of your body:
breast and thighs,
the bend of your hips,
the fullness of your lips.

i walk over
to the canvass of your skin.
see how the paint brush strokes
around your neck,
down your shoulders,
to your fingertips…

your imperfections
got me turning my head
looking at you closer.

your flaws
highlighted
beautifully.

your eyes
captivating…

the mona lisa
is hating on you.

the art of you
is just…
damn fine!

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

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pure heart

July 24, 2011

religion is for those who believe in hell.
spirituality is for those who have lived through it.”

in the beginning…
…all was good.

tired.
exhausted in fact.
at how in the name of god
they crucify the very free souls
of humanity.

there is nothing Christian
about Christianity
when they have forgotten
that Jesus was,
another way of saying
Love.

using
that king james version
of the book
to breed a royal lineage
of hatred.

hate begets hate.

from tennessee
to ghana
the churches claim
they wanna’ heal us.

we are not broken
because we are queer.

it is you,
in the name of
your holy spirit-
dancing like david
every time, a right is denied
or a people oppressed,
who have taken the song
right outta’ of our book of
psalms just to see us broken.

creating religious laws
in secular spaces,
claiming respect
of culture and traditions.
disrespecting the very teachings
of your teacher…

Love.

created in his image…

how dare you exclude my community
from the creation,
then dress it up in biblical chapters
that lost their translation
when you started speaking
in blasphemous tongues.

but you know, my queer people
are like Job:

we go through hell and remain faithful.

losing
jobs, family and life;
we survive because we have Spirit.

you may crucify us
but Love resurrects
on the third day…

we keep the sabbath
only to rest our fears.

Corinthians will show us Love
and you can keep your Apocalypse
‘cause your hatred will consume
only your hate-filled hearts.

and “when the saints,
go marchin’ in…”
a rainbow will remind us
of the true covenant…

“blessed are the pure in heart
for they will see god.” (matthew 5:8)

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

reflection: queertura

June 30, 2011

“We are afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, La Raza,for being unacceptable, faulty, damaged…
to avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the culture,
push the unacceptable parts into the shadows.”
~Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua

QUEERTURA: On being a Latina AND a Lesbian

Through reading, writing and living I have been able to discover and recover what it means to be a Latina, a lesbian and a woman: they are interconnected and not mutually exclusive.  They embrace each other and celebrate their differences; at times, there is struggle between the three.  As Latina/os, I have noticed that we prefer to lose our “queerness” before our cultura because we might be seen as a “sell-out.”  After all, being queer is considered a “white thing.”

But I embrace the three (Latina, Lesbian and Woman) as my own wholly trinity; as in, I am made whole by this relationship.  I am conscious that the three are interdependent of each other and more importantly, that they are reinforced and shaped by my experiences.  I have sought enlightenment, clarity, self-knowledge and self-acceptance in this process, by simply allowing myself to feel and deal with the emotions that have surfaced along the way.

Often times as Latina/o queers we are viewed by other Latinas/os as less Latina/o because of our queerness.  As if in being queer we lose our Latinidad.  We fear living openly. So, we prefer to deny a part of us, so as to not be rejected by our culture.  In Gloria Anzaldúa’s book  Borderlands, she speaks to this “fear of going home.  And not be taken in.”  As she says, “We are afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, La Raza, for being unacceptable, faulty, damaged… to avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the  ulture, push the unacceptable parts into the shadows.” (Anzaldúa, 1987).  I have refused my entire life to push any part of me into the shadows.  I am not less of a Latina because I am a lesbian; I am in fact a stronger Latina in light of being a lesbian.

I too, defend my cultura against those who try to diminish who we are and what we have accomplished and provided to the global
society.  But I will be the first to call them out when they cry, “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido!” yet never bother to look at the queer community and join us in our collective struggle of equality for all.

The struggle is constant; every day I realize that everything I do affects and causes an effect on my wholly trinity.  I live my life in
harmony and do not allow anyone or anything to move me from the core of my being.  I sit comfortably and confidently at the center of my soul.

Author and publisher, Steven Fullwood in his book Funny wrote, “The question on the table directed at any historically oppressed people is, can you prove that you exist?”

If one does not live openly (for whatever reasons), you continue to create this concept of “non-existence” and perpetuate the ridiculous idea that this “queer thing” is a “white thing” and therefore not an “us thing;” so queer Latinas/os do not exist.

As difficult a task as it may seem we cannot remain silent. And when I say we, I am speaking in particular to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender people of color in every corner of the world.

We must begin to voice who we are so that we can prove that we have existed long before June Prides and Stonewall; that our movement is not a sexual revolution but a spiritual evolution that has been taking place for thousands of years.

Simply put… existimos.

Don’t misunderstand me please.  I understand why people choose to live in closets. I understand that people fear rejection, abuse, marginalization and even death. For GLBT POC’s living in the United States, the battle is “uphill both ways” all of the time. For
most GLBT POC’s living outside of this country it isn’t a battle, it is a full-out war.

But what if we ALL came out? What if the closet doors swung opened? What if we stepped out of the darkness? Never have the words of a conference I participated in 1995 called Children from the Shadows (now True Colors) echoed so loudly in my life, “In the light of understanding… shadows disappear.”

The message that I get from those who remain in the closet is that of shame, fear and isolation. And no community can evolve in that atmosphere. And while I respect those who live their lives in silence, I cannot defend your reason for remaining closeted (though I’d defend you with my life if need be).

If you don’t come out… to the eyes of many, you don’t exist.

The coming out of our very own Ricky Martin is something of amazing historical proportions (though I’m still waiting for my Shakira Etheridge –winks at Salma).  The coming out of our Hermano Ricky gave the world more “light about us.”

I want the world to look around and see that GLBT POC’s are out in the world creating change and being visible. I don’t want to have to google “Latina lesbians” to find out if they have existed (trust me I have and it ain’t lindo’).  If we emerged from our “armarios” we need not prove our existence but reaffirm it by celebrating the strength of our diversity and living our lives in light of our truths.

Let us ask ourselves Mr. Fullwood’s question, “…can you prove that you exist?”

The light of our truth shines, “Sí!”

But we must break the culture of silence to shatter the culture of fear, hatred and ignorance that has made us appear invinsible so that we may embrace the light of our queertura.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

i won’t tell

December 10, 2010

it’s ok if you don’t ask… ‘cause i won’t tell.
you’ll figure it out when you find my body
in the estuary of the east river.
(my spirit died long before
i leapt off that bridge).

see, you’ve been legislating hatred
for centuries.

the women. the blacks.
the poor. the latino. the disadvantaged.
the queers.

you’ve been proclaiming the land of the free.
a democracy. with liberty and justice for all.

while you imprison
your people
under the stars
and behind the bars
of your flag.

i could never break
your glass ceiling
cause my hands
are busy trying
to hold myself
together.

“from California to the New York Islands
this land was made for…” no one
who is different from you.

“tyranny of the majority,” said your James Madison.
–you were warned years ago.
you fight against extremism when it’s used against you,
yet you’ve wagered an extreme war against those who are different.

the message you send is hypocrisy.

but please don’t ask… ‘cause i won’t tell.
let the bully in class, beat it out of me.
let my pastor in church, pray it away.
let my mother at home, cuss’ it out.

‘cause at the end of this day
i will just be another headline that reads,
“queer youth commits suicide.”

and they will wear their purple shirts.
and candles will be lit to remember me…

but i will soon be forgotten.
because the real problem
isn’t just the bully, my pastor and my mother…

the real problem is when you continue to create laws
that deny me my very basic right to be protected.

so please don’t ask… trust me, i won’t tell.
silence has always equaled death.
and in death i am free from your hatred.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010 ©

writer’s note: dedicated to all young queer youth. you are so much light to the infinite power. remain strong. there are many of us who are here for you… just reach out.

i used to be a latina

November 10, 2010

i used to be a latina
then i became a lesbian.

it takes some time, you know?
to reconcile…and stay a while
with that thought:

i am a latina lesbian
i am a latina lesbian
i am a latina lesbian

i have to say it out loud every day because the two seem so antonymous to each other.
like they’re always fighting, always at odds… como aceite y vinagre, oiste’?

latina.

lesbian.

you hear it all the time.  “you are not living up to your latina expectations sen~orita.
you are a lesbiana.  you are the absolute fall of all that is latina.
you have roles to play.  you have expectations to meet.
you’ve broken the first of the latina commandments, “you shall never love your women, more than you love your men.”

sometimes it’s heavy.  like cuarenta libras de platanos.
an internal tug of war between thousand-year-old expectations and… me.

shame creeps up, as my self knows better than to believe in this mierda they keep feeding us… i walk around carrying my ancestor’s guilt tattooed to my skin with indelible ink that tries to poison my spirits.
my lesbian self tries to make nice with my latinidad.  she brings her an olive branch of love and acceptance.  but this latina is so resistant to accept what seems to come so naturally to her.  she tries to fight it.  pushing and pulling.  shoving and holding. son un~a y carne…they are intertwined, interconnected and interdependent.

and so i sit with it.  and get to know it.  and take it out for dinner.  and hold the door for it.  and walk with it… until i can enunciate it, “la-ti-na-les-bi-an.”  and then i let it go.

i let it go… to set me free.

and it is at that moment that i embrace my truth:

i am a latina lesbian.

one does not negate the other.  they do not subject each other to a less than place… no.  the two, bailan un son.  as they embrace each other and dance to the rhythm of truth.

and it is not that latina lesbian defines what i am, it is that it celebrates something greater than me. it celebrates the struggle of two historically oppressed communities, where silence, and anger and hurt took place but where love still prevails. it celebrates a beautiful herstory of too many lifetimes left untold,

yo soy el eco de mil batallas internas.
la nostalgia de mujeres que se amaron en silencio.
yo soy un intento a la libertad,
un grito a la autonomia.
que por ser lesbiana y ser Latina
yo soy el, “que diran?”
yo soy el sudor de tu frente en accion..
la que pelea batallas externas
reclama su libertad
y segura de si misma, celebra su verdad.

yes, i am a latina lesbian.

this is not a choice… it is my hearts beat.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2008 ©

my amen

August 4, 2010

mami, i have something i need to tell you.
you see, when i was a little girl
i loved my dolls. i loved my dolls so much,
i wanted them to be real. 

i wanted to tell you
that when you were putting on your make-up
and trying on a pretty dress…
i loved to watch (i thought you were so beautiful).

i needed to tell you
that when i played with my best friend,
i loved to play house and be the boy.
because i always thought only the boy
could like the girl, the way i did.

i was ashamed, but smiled
when the opportunity came to be in a situation
that allowed me to be incognito in my skin.

i needed to fit in a mold that broke each time i was being forced into it.
my nature betrayed me… gave you glimpses of who i was.
and we fought. and we argued. and we fought.

cause i was never a pretty girl, mom.
i hated the color pink, tea parties and stockings.
cause i was never comfortable in a dress
and felt as though training bras were only good for sling shots.
cause i only liked the boys if we were playing sports…

at six-years-old i knew that” little girls are made from sugar, and spice and everything nice…” cause i kissed one.

i was ashamed, but smiled
when the opportunity came to be in a situation
that allowed me to be incognito in my skin.

and as i grew… so did the desire.
so did your disappointment. so did your shame.

i became more confident. you became angrier.
i accepted my truth. you denied my freedom.
i ran away from you. you turned away from me.

and told me that your god would unleash his wrath.

but mami, i need to tell you more…
you need to know that when i am in her arms, i feel as though i am in heaven.
that her spirit is holy.
that her love is what i imagine god’s kisses to feel like.
that when she holds me, it’s as if angels are singing the sweetest song.

that i have never felt closer to god’s love, than when i am with her. that she is my amen.

…and mami, i still think you are beautiful and god still loves me.

Sarahi Yajaira, 2010

Writer’s Note: For my friend, MD… we are beautifully and wonderfully created.”

haciendo hogar

June 20, 2010

quiero perderme en ti.

sin mapas…
descubrir lo que aun en ti, no se ha descubierto.

dejarme llevar por la brújula de este amor
que es nuestro norte.
plantar bandera en tu ombligo.
y llamarte mía.

pero no mía en posesión,
pues tu te perteneces entera.

pero mía en admiración…
llamarte mía en amor.
decirte que te entrego todo de mi,
por tan solo poder hacer mi hogar en la tierra de tu corazón.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010 ©

eos’ dawn

June 12, 2010

tell me where your dreams sleep,
this sweet insomnia has me
daydreaming past midnight.

waiting for morning to break

eos
holds your breathing
at the edge of the ocean.
i watch the sunrise
between your breasts.

i take the morning
dew from your lips,
to sweeten my coffee.

a new day has dawned
in the morning song
of your love.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010 ©

Notes: Eos is, in Greek Mythology, the Titan Goddess of the dawn.
This piece was inspired by a poem from a fellow poet friend Frank Ulloa.

post ethics class

May 14, 2010

i received an email from an old college classmate today.  in it she wrote,

“I am glad to hear you had a great Birthday! I just wanted to send you a note apologizing for something I said more than ten years ago in Ethics class. It was an ignorant comment about your presentation on gay people in society I believe. I never meant to offend you or embarrass you. I wanted to apologize after class after you presented but I was told not to by a few class mates. I now know to always listen to my instinct and not be afraid to speak up. I do not know you really well but we do share mutual friends and you have a beautiful soul and heart. I am sorry and I hope you accept this apology. I do hope that in the future we can be friends.”

now… i would be lying if i told you that i had a clue what she said or for that matter what i presented in ethics class (this happened more than ten years ago).  my initial reaction was one of sadness.  because i thought she’d been holding on to this for quite some time (she expressed in another email that she thought about apologizing every time she saw me on FB); while i was probably upset about it in the moment and then added it to the pile of  “forgotten frustrations”.  i thought, since she had thought about it for the last ten plus years, i should recall something.  still, i can’t remember anything… i barely remember the professors name.  but that’s not the point… the point here is growth.

now, i should perhaps have prefaced this by stating that i graduated from what was then an all-women’s private catholic college (yes, by choice ;o)  perhaps it helps to make clearer what i was able to understand and gather from this email.

post-ethics class lesson: time and space. experiences and beliefs. wherever we stand at any particular time… we stand with our experiences and beliefs up-to-date.

my response to her was short:

“Whatever you said my sister is long forgotten and forgiven. I believe we speak from a time and place based on our experiences and beliefs. And at that particular time and place you had a different set of experiences and beliefs.
We are constantly evolving (it’s our human nature). As that process continues I believe we reflect on our past so as to better understand where we are and which direction we’d like to head. You have done just that.

Future friends? No. You’ve never stopped being my sister. Even if we just share common friends. Our paths did cross. Our lives are forever intertwined. So count on a sisterhood always…”

she responded almost immediately.  writing that she is now the “mother of three wonderful girls who have changed [her] life.” and that she needed “to be real and true to herself and her daughters because children learn what they live.”

to recognize and realize that our children are a reflection of our best and worst  and live by example is beautiful.

time and space.  experiences and beliefs.

if we remain open, we are bound to be such a beautiful enlightened people. because what we see today… ten years from now will look and feel entirely different… and our children will be watching and learning.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010 ©

my first girlfriend was a church girl
pentecostal
you know, the kind who always wear skirts

i loved the flow of it
especially if she caught the holy spirit

i would find myself praising God
louder
with fervor

i prayed to God
wondered why these “sinful” thoughts invaded my mind and body
and i asked [Him] for help
pleading in fact, “rebuke these feelings from me”

but instead the desire grew
like tithe in the offering basket

my faith rested in her praises
i wanted to enter her temple
and sit in her pew

we could speak in tongues all day
so long as the vigil was held in her eyes
and we could fast in the morning of
HER GLORY

what sweet praise of love she was
how innocent
our love

shuned

by the very church that preached about an unconditional love
they damned us to hell
condemned us to a life of fire

the doors of HER church closed
forever
fear took the song right out her book of Psalms

i left

hating the church
since then… i haven’t prayed

the church still preaches love
but prophesizes hate

…i still look at the pretty pentecostal girls in their skirts
and wonder about my favorite sister in christ…and smile!
~Sarahi Yajaira, © 2008