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Coming-out narratives are an introspective process, as seen in Richard Blanco’s piece, The Prince of Los Cocuyos. Woven into the fabric of the overall book is his true coming-out, functioning as more an ending to the story rather than the story itself. Blanco tells the origins of his childhood, from his birth in Spain, to growing up in Miami, Florida, experimenting with racial identity, romance and sexuality.
Richard Blanco is a writer, husband, and most noticeably, the first gay inaugural poet. Blanco visited Stetson University as a guest speaker for spring 2015 Showcase, where he read excerpts from his novel The Prince of Los Cocuyos, and other poems. Much of his poetry and nonfiction encompasses the idea of home, and how one can own their identity. This is prevalent in The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, where Blanco explores the origins of his gender nonconformity, his first crushes, and his eventual coming-out as a gay man.
One of the main hindrances to Blanco’s identity ownership is his grandmother. In his early childhood, his relationship with her seems to be love-hate, because while she does limit his hobbies (as they are not what un hombre would do), she is family, and chooses to explore new food with him, one of his favorite activities: “‘What? Queso en una lata?’ she questioned, unable to fathom the idea of cheese in a can. But I could tell from the tone of her voice that she was intrigued. ‘Look,’ I said, spraying a dab on my finger and licking it off, ‘you don’t even have to put it in the ‘fridgerator’” (Blanco 11). His abuela comes to enjoy trying new food pairings with the spray can cheese, and the two are content for a while. However, it is not too long after this incident that his abuela finds out about her grandson’s creative and more feminine side.
After visiting Disney for the first time, Blanco excitedly decides on a souvenir from the park. But what comes to mind when deciding on a toy, is not money but rather, what he can get away with. He asks his mother: “Did you see that Micky - how beautiful? Can I take a look at it?” (104). Her mother offers, “Fourteen ninety-nine! Que va! Anyway, you know Abuela will say it’s a doll; she’ll make you throw it out” (104). But he manages to tempt his mom into buying the doll, and hiding it from his abuela. Yet, Abuela is not the only gender police in the area. With the help of a family friend, Blanco lands a job at a grocery store, where he is drilled on masculine qualities by the owner. He swears that the owner and his abuela must be working together.
In any case, Blanco must learn that identity is not always one sided. He observes that a man is not always uncreative, as he sees from one of his first crushes in Miami: an artist and co-worker at the grocery store. From his cousin, he learns that masculine men can love pugs and drive fast cars. He learns that he can still be a man, and love other men, despite the traditions of his family.
- Elizabeth Hutchison
Starting Thursday, June 9th, from 5:30 to 7:00pm, Elizabeth Hutchison will be leading a weekly reading group. The goal of this group is to read all of Jeanette Winterson’s, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit within 5 meetings, and discuss the process of coming-out within the context of this piece and other relatable works. Come to the first meeting, having read the first two chapters of the novel, titled: Genesis and Exodus.
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We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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