Behind the Scenes: Iluminando la Oscuridad: Queer Latinas Healing in Spanish Through Conocimiento
Stephanie Hernandez Rivera & Dora S. Frias
This article was three years in the making. For us, it is only fitting that it ended up in a special issue, edited by Dra. Michelle Espino, for the Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education about healing mindbodyspirit for Latinas in Higher Education. It began with a chance encounter at a conference, that led to collegial support during times where we felt lost, as las unicas, and defeated in our work. Recounting our historias with coraje, allowed us to do this.
Given the commonalities we both were experiencing in our work as Queer Latinas working in higher education, we decided to use pláticas as a way to process these experiences and unearth what they meant to us. We met for our first plática which we recorded, and immediately felt a sense of visibility and healing taking place. We kept our notes and pláticas in a folder called “Fuego,” a reference to an inside joke, but it now serves as a reminder to not dim our individual and collective fire.
This process was scary, difficult, healing and necessary. We cried, laughed, listened to, and pushed one another. In this article, we are vulnerable and engage in self-reflection about some of our painful experiences in higher education. In doing so, we began to understand how even in the darkness we experienced, we were able to rediscover our light within, by working towards wholeness, together. No matter how hard it was to engage in this collaborative work, we knew others like us needed our stories. We hope other Queer Latinas and Women of Color find validation and potential pathways for their own healing. Inevitably this experience has not only been one where we could produce this work, but where we could build an invaluable friendship. One we know will continue to flourish.
In this paper, we utilize conocimiento as a method to work towards Coyolxauhqui consciousness, and recorded pláticas where we examine our experiences as two Queer Latina, early-career practitioners in student affairs. This work was our effort to understand, process, and heal from experiences that have been oppressive, hurtful, and damaging to us. We do this by using practices, methods, and tools of analysis that honor our cultural practices and understandings of ourselves and the world. The findings from our work point to the complexity of our experience and we present this complexity through utilizing the nuance in the Spanish language. The themes that emerged were: The Labor of Being La Unica, Eliminating Historias, Fuerte, Sin Remedio, Viviendo Con Coraje, and La Arcoíris Fragmentada.