This past Monday, we attended a screening of Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, a documentary featured as part of a special season of QUEER|ART|FILM called “Summer of Resistance.” The film highlighted 4 Latinx women who were wrongfully convicted for supposedly molesting two little girls. While it was the little girls who testified against these women, it was not the fake testimonies alone that convinced the “justice system” that the 4 women were guilty, but rather, it was the fact that the women were queer that gave the judge even more reason to put them behind bars. The fact that gender expression and sexual preference held more standing than cold, hard evidence just goes to show how people’s racial and homophobic biases can ruin the lives of queer people of color.
By being alive and allowing themselves to love the people they wanted to love, these women were simply resisting. Resisting the gender norms imposed upon them by a stubborn patriarchal system. Resisting the consolidated notions of a typical family that lingered in their town of San Antonio. Resisting the mere idea that love is only restricted to heterosexual relationships. But unfortunately, their resistance was met with 15 years behind bars.
The theme of resistance has always been present in the LGBTQ community. From the Stonewall riots to the Pride Parades that take place across the United States, this resistance is what eventually fuels the radical change that marginalized communities seek and allows for identities to be fully expressed and eventually accepted. Some may even say that the sole act of existing is resistance itself.
The San Antonio Four are an example of how existing as a nonconforming individual can have repercussions, and it is unfortunate to see how our current justice system criminalizes sexuality, gender expression, and race. Right now, it can be difficult for me to begin to fathom a world where identities are no longer policed, but I am constantly reminded that there are individuals out there who are attempting to address systemic/institutionalized oppression that affects queer people of color. From organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign to F2L, little by little, they are addressing issues that affect LGBTQ individuals by joining in the resistance and advocating for their right to unapologetically exist.