Queer Latinx Web Series (Osito, Brujos, Undocumented Tales)

Curator's Note

 

Short-length videos have become important visibility tools for LGBTQ Latino/Latina/Latinxs, featuring narratives that resist US media stereotypes. Besides serious testimonies or playful videos in online platforms from YouTube to Instagram stories, queer Latinx artists have created and starred in original content that works as media activism, including three web series by Mexican-Americans: Osito (2014 – 16), written by Julio SalgadoBrujos (2017 -), written and co-directed by Ricardo Gamboa; and Undocumented Tales (2016 -), written and directed by Armando Ibañez. Set in Chicago, Brujos is the most visually ambitious (multiple set-ups, split screens, special effects, action sequences): a genre-mixing fantasy about gay grad students (three Latino, one white) sharing a house and battling evil white forces, guided by a Puerto Rican Maestra. Some episodes show classroom discussions of ACT-UP, Foucault and decolonization of minds. Set in California (Bay Area, LA) and focused on undocuqueer lives, Osito and Undocumented Tales have different representational strategies, with less elaborate camera work (Osito usually has one camera set-up in the living room) that show the gay protagonists discussing or facing situations the Brujos grad students seem to take for granted. Osito consists mostly of conversations between two undocumented Mexican-American roommates - gay Julio Salgado (Osito) and straight Jesús Iñiguez, series director – about gay life (online dating, poppers). (Salgado & Iñiguez appeared in Undocumented and Awkward [2011 – 12], whose gay/queer-themed episodes were also conversations among Latinos.) Set between late 2013 and early 2014, Undocumented Tales follows Fernando (Ibañez), a doubly-closeted restaurant worker who deals with co-workers, disappointing lovers, his hard-working religious mother and supportive friends while holding on to college and filmmaking dreams. Showing diverse body types, sexual encounters between Latinos, and situations ranging from the ordinary (hanging out on a sofa, partying) to the extraordinary (fighting with superpowers), these queer Latinx web series resist gay media characterizations of Latino men as only sexual fetishes. Though mostly about Latino gay cis men, they expand their social circles and show awareness of their representation limits. In Osito’s 12th episode, for example, six women – credited as co-writers – crash and take over the conversation. By focusing on an undocumented artist, a waiter and grad students, these series also resist images of homonormative gay Latino privilege, like “Inside Ricky Martin’s Serene Los Angeles Home” (2018). However, as Fernando’s struggle to get into college in Undocumented Tales reminds us, gay Latinos like the Brujos students already had privileges without their superpowers.

 

 

 

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