Queer, Brown and Fucking Proud in Trump's America

Photo By Julián Camilo Del Toro

Photo By Julián Camilo Del Toro

Much like everyone else these past two days, the state of things seem unreal. I feel like I’ve opened a page to a dystopian Margaret Atwood novel. I’ve been going through a myriad of emotions that change as quickly as they come. I stayed up late, drinking straight out of a bottle of pisco from Peru, knowing full well that I had to be at work in the morning. Before going home to hide in the comfort of that bottle, I was at an election party of many people who know much more about policy than me, not that this race focused much on that at all. I watched as their faces turned from excitement and aloofness to worried and strained. Eventually the words “this isn’t looking good” were muttered. In that moment I started feeling my lungs straining. These people were on my side and my allies, many of them women. But some of them wouldn’t feel the direct, venomous effect of a Trump nation. It would be an obvious unsatisfactory loss and step towards a form of government they did not want, but could survive in. My mind couldn’t find that solace, hence the pisco.

The next day was one I hadn’t felt ever in my life. Looking at everyone around me, feeling completely at a loss as to what they thought. Did they vote against my rights as a queer? As a brown person? Needless to say, I know my anxiety was just a small part of a collective fear. The way I felt, and still feel ripples of, was one where my emotions were literal walls just crushing me slowly. There have only been a couple times in my life where I felt that crazy and helpless. The first time was learning of the suicide of my father. The next is of learning that a beautiful and powerful friend, Laura Calle, had passed. There are moments when I can’t hold back the emotions of either one of those events, not that I should. It has forever changed me. But how is it even possible that the election of a bigot can make me feel that way again? With my personal losses, flashes of light and hope began to come through the darkness. They began with the comforting words of friends and family. And then with time the light just began to grow. There’s not quite as much solace with this current burden.

I myself haven’t always been the most politically active person. I would do the bare minimum to help causes because in my mind, other people were better equipped and educated to handle those affairs. My cousin Edric was always someone I admired because he has worked tirelessly for others since he was old enough to have and accept his voice. He introduced me to the queer community and what it meant to be queer. Before then, I questioned and doubted myself constantly. Why have I never had a boyfriend? Why don’t people like me? Am I ugly? Am I a boring person? Do I have nothing to offer? Although it wasn’t immediate, finding my inner queerness helped to dissolve some of those imprisoning thoughts.

My family and I grew up very close. At points, they were my only friends. They helped me accept myself, always reminding me of their love. We grew up erasing as best we could the fact that we were brown and different. Now, with our communal help and love for each other, we are finding ourselves again without any form of fear or shame about who we are and how we grew up. Just days ago, I was dancing at the Helado Negro show in tow with my Choloteca crew and the many friends I made through that. We were hearing affirmations of our beauty, through our brown skin and queerness, loudly against the rhetoric of the country. I felt like a powerful source of light in that moment.

I admit that by Wednesday morning, that light dimmed immensely. I’ve never been so scared of the unknown. I’ve dealt with death to a crippling degree. But this isn’t about death necessarily; it’s almost worse. The day before the election I was consoling my sister because a friend of hers was basically being a shitty person. She cried. Any time I see that, it’s very hard to keep my composure. My sister has been handed a lot of unfair obstacles in her young life. She has had to grow up very quickly and not only feel horrible things, but accept them as well. I felt like a hypocrite the next day. Could being a good person really stand up against the maniacal voice of our country? But he is not the voice. His followers are not the voice. They are not my voice. They are not your voice.

I feel like a lot of us have wanted to see a revolution happen in our lifetime. I always joked, even at a young age, of being a vigilante against the government. Well now is our time folx. I woke up today and looked at my naked body. I studied every angle. Today, I woke up being brown, queer, young, latinx and most importantly, fucking proud. I was all these things before Tuesday, and I will be all these things after if not a little (or a lot) louder. I want my sister and any others who are afraid to feel the same. Fear is no longer something I will allow to disable me. And I hope the same for you. We have a scary road ahead of us, but I really am hopeful that our voices will ring so loud that these patriarchal, white and problematic pillars that have kept our country from progress will fucking crumble. I’d rather die trying than accept any kind of defeat. This is our call to action. Get together. Talk about everything. Your fears. Your hopes. Your feelings of helplessness. Let it out. Let it empower you. Surround yourself by others that feel empowered by their “otherness”. Organize yourselves. Seek out organizations where your voice and action will be powerful. We are not minorities. We are people. We are forces. And I will not stop until there is no second thought about it.


Kenneth Figueroa is a queer Latinx, first generation Peruvian American living in Atlanta. Aside from being a hairstylist, he is also a founding member of "La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx" where he may very well show off his insatiable love for Kumbia queen Karla or lip sync for his life to Shakira."