Walking contradictions : Latina lesbianas, immigration and citizenship



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In immigration and sexuality research there is new and emerging literature that understands the convergence of these two topics. However, scholarship primarily examining Latina lesbian immigrants is not as visible. This thesis examines the lives of Latina lesbian immigrants residing in Texas and California to understand greater meanings of immigration, sexuality and citizenship. Ten Latina lesbian immigrants participated in in-depth interviews, answering questions about growing up, sexuality, migration, citizenship and meanings of home. The research questions asked the following: What affect does immigration have on the sexualities and sex lives of Latina lesbian immigrants? How does their age of migration impact their sexualities? How do these women define and conceptualize citizenship? How do immigration and sexuality converge in the lives and on the bodies of Latina lesbian immigrants? The interviews revealed that the age in which the women migrated and their resettlement in urban areas contribute to their conceptualizations of a “sexually open” United States and a not-as-queer-friendly home country. Second, the women interviewed categorize citizenship in local and global ways. While some saw citizenship as part of every day practice, others found it to be connected with a sense of global community. Migration also developed a consciousness surrounding citizenship, as many of them were confronted with the concept upon migrating to the United States. Finally, immigration and sexuality unfolds in my participant’s lives in contradictory and non-linear ways. While many of the women felt a connection to their local gay and lesbian communities in positive ways, their lives are met with adversities in other ways that are affected by their immigrant status – including inability to obtain a driver’s license and obligations to become United State’s citizens. The women also conceptualize home in fluid and unfixed ways. Home and the body collapse when discussing migration, citizenship and nation.
The research presented attempts to offer a conversation about the historical and current relationship between immigrants and LGBT people. It is also my objective to further conversations about multiple levels of oppression and how Latina lesbian immigrant women use their circumstances to gain a better awareness of themselves, and hopefully improve their rights and living conditions as human beings.