Gloria Anzaldúa, scholar, author and poet, born September 26, 1942, grew up on the Mexico-Texas border. Living in what she called the borderlands, Gloria invested in her own conflicting and intertwined identities to address the intersections of race, heritage, religion, sexuality and language.

Gloria’s father worked as a sharecropper after the loss of the family land. Because, she says, of “negligence, by white greed, and my grandmother not knowing English”.

However, an exceptional student, she overcame the barriers of poverty, racism, sexism and other discrimination to pursue a university education in 1960s America.

Borderlands/La Frontera: the new mestizo

In his writing, nothing was private… indeed, no forbidden subject.

In 1987, she published the semi-autobiographical Borderlands/La Frontera: the new mestizo. Gloria Anzaldúa tackled heteronormativity, colonialism and male domination in her book, decades before most people understood intersectionality as “a thing”.

“Ethnic identity is the twin skin of linguistic identity — I am my language. Until I can be proud of my language, I cannot be proud of myself – until I can accept Texan Chicano Spanish, Tex Mex, and every other language I speak as legitimate, I will not can’t accept my legitimacy.

“Until I’m free to write bilingually and change code without always having to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish while I’d rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate English speakers rather than to make them welcome me, my tongue will be illegitimate.

“I will no longer be ashamed of existing. I will have my voice. Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue, my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.

The author said she gained insight into her own multiplicity while being stoned with hallucinogenic mushrooms. Subsequently, she woven this multiplicity into her work, blending two English and six Spanish dialects into her writing. She also advocated for people to speak with their own voice, emphasizing the link between language and identity.

“While I advocate putting Chicana, tejana, worker, dyke-feminist poet, theoretical writer before my name, I do so for different reasons than the mainstream culture…so that the Chicana and lesbian and all other people in me do not be erased, omitted or killed.

Multi-sexuality

Gloria Anzaldúa had relationships with both men and women, but primarily identified as lesbian, although perceiving the descriptor as inadequate. Indeed, like most things, her sexuality wasn’t something she could just tick off a list. She considered herself to be multisexual.

“I am a bridge swayed by the winds, a crossroads inhabited by whirlwinds. Gloria, the facilitator, Gloria, the mediator, straddling the walls between the abysses.

“‘Your allegiance is to La Raza, the Chicano movement’, say members of my race, ‘your allegiance is to the third world,’ say my black and Asian friends, ‘your allegiance is to your sex, to women’, say feminists.

“Then there is my allegiance to the Gay movement, the socialist revolution, the New Age, magic and the occult. And then there is my affinity with literature, with the world of the artist.

“What am I?

“A Third World lesbian feminist with Marxist and mystical leanings.

“They would cut me into small pieces and label each piece with a label.”

Gloria Anzaldúa died in 2004.

Other female writers:

Radclyffe Hall, Michael Field, Mary Renault, Renee Vivien, IAR Wylie, Audre LordeMercedes from Acosta

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Consult our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and YouTube.