5. The theme of diaspora comes up a lot in this podcast, and that makes a ton of sense, but I want to know what role you think music and dance play for Latinx diaspora communities in the U.S.
Pérez: I’m Cuban-American, and in my family the things that have tied us to Cuban culture is food and music. My family left Cuba in early ’60s and has not gone back. So much about music is cultural connection. It’s not just a hobby. There’s a level of importance that I don’t know if other folks who don’t have that diapsoric connection can understand. It matters in a huge way. I didn’t grow up in Miami, but I’d go visit, and my mom would cassette-tape the radio there to listen to it back home in North Carolina. Cuban music, like from Gloria Estefan, a lot of it is made by Cubans here and is about diaspora, thinking of home and the pain of people being away.
Bayetti Flores: Right. These communities, Cubans, political exiles, undocumented, folks, these are people who can’t go back, so music is a main connection you have when your home is not accessible.
6. Both of you, who I’ve followed for years, are bad af Latina feminists, and also music lovers. How do you work through loving música that might not align with, or may even directly challenge, your mujerista beliefs?
Pérez: So in the pilot episode, I play Don Omar, a man who beats his wife and is not a laudable person, beyond thinking about what he sings about. It’s something I grapple with a lot because the music I like is not political. The podcast is great because I can present it and I can say, “I like the song, but this is what I know about the person. Still, this is how I interpret the song.” It’s not like I’m endorsing it. I’m relating to the music because of how I read it or how the beat makes me want to dance. It’s complicated, but I don’t think rejecting huge swaths of pop culture is what will make changes, either. We do also get to highlight people who are politically badass.
Bayetti Flores: I think the way I approach music in general is that I want to be a critical listener. The thing is when you are Latina, and an immigrant, and queer, and a woman, all these different things, if I only listen to music that respected all of those identities at the same time, there would be hardly anything for me to listen to. We need to be able to push artists and form respectful dialogues and take out of music the good it gives us and be critical at the same time. But I don’t believe in throwing away a song because it doesn’t align with all your politics. There is plenty of music I listen to that doesn’t align with who I am and my politics, but this is what it’s like to be a queer woman in America, a person with intersecting identities, a marginalized class in another marginalized class.
7. But music can, of course, also be affirming and liberating. How, as queer Latinx people, is música a place for resistance and survival?
Bayetti Flores: We can make it that way, even when the song, lyrics and artist aren’t about our particular survival. When we play Marc Anthony at a queer party, we make it ours, finding joy in things that weren’t necessary with us in mind but finding joy in that. That’s resistance. There’s also a ton of queer Latinx artists doing stuff, so it’s not just finding resistance in things not for us, because there are things for us and by us. So showcasing that is important.
Pérez: I love bachata, and I relate to the feelings expressed in the music in terms of my own queer love life. It’s finding meaning and reflecting in something powerful and still speaks to me and is an important part of my life. Seeing two men dancing bachata together at the club, that’s beautiful and it’s resistance. It’s also a way to help us to survive shit that is really horrible.
Read more on page 3>>>