Constructing, Negotiating, and Performing Identities among Mexican Gay Men in Houston
Poblano Alvarez, Sandra Elizabeth
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Homosexuality within Mexican culture remains a complicated subject and widespread source of oppression for many Mexican members of LGBTQ communities. More specifically, Mexican men who self-identify as gay often suppress their sexual identities to avoid hurtful confrontations with their family members. Fifteen in-depth interviews with Mexican gay men demonstrate how participants deployed a rich array of cultural resources to construct their ethnic and sexual identities in often hostile social terrains. Combining Ann Swidler’s “cultural toolkit” framework with an intersectionality theoretical approach, this study demonstrated how Mexican gay men had navigated familial pressures, traditional notions of masculinity, and complicated relationships with religious teachings and institutions by utilizing pragmatic cultural tools and adaptive strategies of action to make sense of and affirm what it means to be both Mexican and gay in ways that affirm both identities. The findings offer intriguing insights on how ethnic and sexual minorities actively exploit resources from multiple cultural toolkits toward the task of constructing, negotiating, and performing multiple identities.