Amigas y Amantes (Friends and Lovers) explores the experiences of sexually nonconforming Latinas in the creation and maintenance of families. It is based on forty-two in-depth ethnographic interviews with women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer (LBQ). Additionally, it draws from fourteen months of participant observation at LBQ Latina events that Katie L. Acosta conducted in 2007 and 2008 in a major northeast city. With this data, Acosta examines how LBQ Latinas manage loving relationships with the families who raised them, and with their partners, their children, and their friends.
Acosta investigates how sexually nonconforming Latinas negotiate cultural expectations, combat compulsory heterosexuality, and reconcile tensions with their families. She offers a new way of thinking about the emotion work involved in everyday lives, which highlights the informal, sometimes invisible, labor required in preserving family ties. Acosta contends that the work LBQ Latinas take on to preserve connections with biological families, lovers, and children results in a unique way of doing family.
Paying particular attention to the negotiations that LBQ Latinas undertake in an effort to maintain familial order, Amigas y Amantes explores how they understand femininity, how they negotiate their religious faiths, how they face the unique challenges of being in interracial/interethnic relationships, and how they raise their children while integrating their families of origin.
Latina/os are currently the largest minority population in the United States. They are also one of the fastest growing. Yet, we have very limited research and understanding of their sexualities. Instead, stereotypical images flourish even though scholars have challenged the validity and narrowness of these images and the lack of attention to the larger social context. Gathering the latest empirical work in the social and behavioral sciences, this reader offers us a critical lens through which to understand these images and the social context framing Latina/os and their sexualities.
Situated at the juncture of Latina/o studies and sexualities studies, Latina/o Sexualities provides a single resource that addresses the current state of knowledge from a multidisciplinary perspective. Contributors synthesize and critique the literature and carve a separate space where issues of Latina/o sexualities can be explored given the limitations of prevalent research models. This work compels the current wave in sexuality studies to be more inclusive of ethnic minorities and sets an agenda that policy makers and researchers will find invaluable.