- by: Erica GDLR -
I don’t keep consistent contact with any of my family members, with the exception of my brother. Nevertheless, I do make an intentional effort to visit an aunt of mine every holiday season. My grandmother, whom she takes care of, was my mother figure growing up. I try to visit them once a year. Every time I go, I realize how much I miss them. However, this year was different in that I realized how much I admire mi tia.
I have to admit, she is the closest thing I have to a hero. My aunt is a 61 year old divorced Mexican immigrant with a heavy accent who works as local pastor in Winchester, Virginia. The amount of discrimination she endures in her city, in her community, and in the institution of the church is immeasurable. I humbly listened to her talk with care and tenderness about the children and women of her community, as if they were of her own blood.
A few days ago we had a deep conversation about my mother, and the mistakes our family has inherited when it comes to love for self and others. She explained to me how she had to separate her physical, emotional, and mental being from our family, so that she could heal and break the cycles of unhealthy habits of abuse. She has strived to do this, and it shows in her tenderness, patience, understanding, and kindness.
Most in our family despise and yet admire her for it, as she continues building community all around her. I talked to her about how lonely I’ve felt my life has been. Having been estranged from my father, kept from my only brother, and rejected by my mother all at very early ages, I’ve felt that no type of reaching out or affection has been enough. This aloneness has translated to all the personal relationships I have attempted to form in my early adult years. It's been an intentional struggle to learn to see the complexities of people, knowing that people in general fall short of our expectations. And as a queer woman of color and child of immigrants, I witness far more of the disappointment either as a victim or a pained spectator.
I painfully live on the borderlands of multiple cultures, histories, oppressions, communities, and reflections of self. It is the cross I carry at the intersections of less socially desirable identities and all their implications. Mi tia spoke to me about Jesus and how much violence he endured, at all levels, to die, be resurrected, etc. Honestly, as many times as I have heard it, that story felt different coming out of her mouth that night.
I reflect today on how the idea of wounds has served to empower me. Although we may not always understand what our wounds or the wounds of others look like, we can understand the pain and negative consequences that come from them. Families like mine that come from cycles of systemic oppression, poverty, and historical violence are often wounded beyond repair. In spite of this, as a new generation we can choose to break those cycles, like my aunt and others have, and reach out to those who like us are willing and able to heal and change.
As persecuted, isolated, and marginalized persons, we often must create our own families and communities to survive. This is the work we have been burdened with, but it is also our opportunity to reinvent what love looks like in our context.
As a woman who is in love with another woman, I find we often make it up as we go. As we enact our agency as queer women of color, we make decisions to see what is beyond the walls of the socially constructed hetero-patriarchal white family structures, norms of intimacy, and expressions of spirituality. This is a scary and often painful venture into the unknown. However, I recognize that as an act of resistance and transformation, we must heal self and find what truly works for us, while simultaneously inviting others to engage in their own process. By doing this we become open and able to reach those who also live on the borderlands of isolation and broken communities.
This is how we are reborn in love.
This is the struggle.
God has called all of us to be stewards of love and understanding.
I believe it is our only tool in a time of violence, oppression, and hate.
This is the revolution.
. . .
Erica Granados De La Rosa also known as Erica GDLR is a spoken word artist, a community organizer, a second year graduate student at Texas Woman’s University, and a child of the Salvadorian and Mexican diaspora. She was born and raised in the UMC and defines her work inside and outside the church as spiritual artivism. She performs and engages in social justice projects all over the country and currently lives in Denton, TX. To learn more go to Ericagdlr.blogspot.com. Follow her on twitter @ericagdlr.