identity

11 Reasons Why: What Makes Selena Special For Us Latinos

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez will always be an important personality in Latino culture in the United States. Her music and the tragic circumstances of her death made her a pop culture phenomenon that escaped the niche Hispanic market. After her death, Hollywood studios furiously vied for the rights to adapt her incredible rags-to-riches story to the big screen. Selena is a fundamental Latino icon even 23 years after her death in 1995, at the tender age of 23.

Next time someone asks you at a party why you tear up listening to the late great Selena, lecture them with these facts: 

1. She brought Tejano music to mainstream America… and showed girls can do anything

“Tejano music was hard for us because I was a girl. My dad had a lot of problems while trying to set up shows for us or presentations because there are a lot of men who don’t think that women can get the attention of the public. But . . . wrong!”

Credit: Paving-Your-Way. Digital image. Pop Sugar.

Before Selena Mexican-American music was considered an eccentricity and was definitely not played in non-Hispanic clubs and radio stations. Selena changed all that during her life and after her untimely death. 

Credit: images. Digital image. NBC4

We are sure “Amor prohibido” is played at Latino and non-Latino weddings alike! 

2. She valued family

“We went through a hard time, and we had to turn to music as a means to putting food on the table. And we’ve been doing it ever since. No regrets either.”

Credit: 150327112631-02-selena-restricted-super-169 CNN. Digital image. CNN.

Familia is important for us Latinos and Selena never forgot her origins and the role that her family had in her success. This is a rare trait and certainly something that most mainstream celebrities lack. 

Credit: 636107575027683977-Selena-life-06. Digital image.  Corpus Christi Caller Times.

She started her career as part of the Quintanilla family group Selena y Los Dinos, where her two older siblings also made pompas shake. 

3. She was proud of her heritage

“I feel very proud to be Mexican. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn Spanish when I was a girl, but . . . it’s never too late to get in touch with your roots.”

Credit: Always-Remembering-Your-Roots. Digital image. Pop Sugar.

Many singers and actors of Latino origin change their names for a more English-sounding or a more neutral one. But not our Selena. She didn’t look for a fancy name and good on her: Selena is such a powerful, defining name that shines on any billboard. 

Credit: Selena-Quintanilla-Family-Talks-About-Movie-Selena-e1508233876918. Digital image. The Guardian Nigeria.

Singing in Spanish is a daring act in itself if you want to break into the mainstream, and she was unapologetic. 

4. Because real women have curves
“I’m very real, very sincere, and honest, and that’s how I’ll always be”

Credit: selena-quintanilla_vix. Digital image. VIX.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, but it is also defined by mass media. Which is unhealthy: there are hundreds of healthy body types and not all women are skinny like teenage models. Selena was proud of her curves. Eso mija, eres una fregona. 

Credit: Selena-selena-quintanilla-perez-28912004-500-336 . Digital image. Fanpop

She was the precursor of proud curvy Latinas today, reinas like America Ferrara and Gina Rodriguez. 

5. She had a unique style

“Always believe that the impossible is always possible”

Credit: EVFPWLKGDRH53M4YORIV5ZNFEU_Digital image. Los Angeles Times

It is hard for a Latino girl to reaffirm her identity. Selena did so with aplomb. Her wardrobe choices were interesting and daring in equal measure, which is probably one of the reasons of her success as a pop culture brand. 

Credit: Selena-Quintanilla-Net-Worth. Digital image. The Wealth Report

She was criticized by more conservative audiences for “revealing too much”. We say al carajo con sus juicios

6. Because she showed that Latinas can be kickass celeb sponsors
“What I don’t like are arrogant people. We’re all equal. I don’t like it when a person assumes to be better”

Credit: SELENA_BEAUTY_RGB_72.0.jpg . Digital image. tacked


Her posthumous campaign with cosmetics giant MAC demonstrated that Latino women in particular and women of color in general could and should carry campaigns. She was beautiful and the world needed to see that. 

Credit: s-l300.coke_111.Digital image. Selena Forever.

She also did work with Coca-Cola, one of the epitomes of American culture worldwide. 

7. She was active in her community
“All I need to do is try and do the best that I can do”

Credit: selena306. Digital image. Selena Forever

As a minority, solidarity is key for the Latino community in the United States, particularly today. Selena embodied community values and never forgot her fellow Mexican-Americans. Certainly an example we should all follow. 

Credit: Selena85. Digital image. Selena Forever.

She grew up in Texas, where migratory patterns and backwards thinking about race make various segments of the Hispanic population feel vulnerable. Power to the people! 

8. Because even George W. Bush recognized her legacy and A-listers loved her (not that a proud Latina needs validation, but this proves she was a positive ambassador for multiculturalism)
“You shouldn’t care for somebody just because of the materialistic things that they have, and I’m a firm believer in that”

Credit: Working-Hard-So-You-Can-Play-Harder. Digital image. Pop Sugar.

Before he was president G.W.B was governor of Texas. He declared Selena’s birthday National Selena Day, a day in which Latino identity and cultural legacy is celebrated. 

Credit: Selena_Marlon. Digital image. Selena Forever.


She was bigger than Tejano music itself, and her death was a day for mourning all throughout her home state. In the picture we can see the Texan queen with legendary actor Marlon Brando. 

9. Because she gave us another Latina star: J-Lo

Credit: Selena. Warner Bros.


Selena keeps giving even beyond the grave. In 1997 Warner Bros. released a much-hyped biopic in which the boricua diva Jennifer Lopez shined and became a star in her own right. The circumstances are sad but fate gave us two proud Latina queens.

READ: 25 Facts About The “Selena” 1997 Movie You Probably Completely Missed

Credit: Selena. Warner Bros.

And yes, we will never have enough Latina stars will we? Donde cabe una caben mil. 

10. She urged children to stay en la escuela (don’t drop out, escuincles!)
“Music is not a very stable business. You know it comes and it goes, and so does money. But your education stays with you for the rest of your life”

Credit: fans5. Digital image. Selena Forever.

Selena knew how important education is for minorities in the United States, and that hard work and academic development are the only way for the community to strive. She constantly visited schools and urged young chamacos not to drop out. Respect. 

Credit: Being-Grateful. Digital image. Pop Sugar.

11. Because she was an independent self made woman
“If you have a dream, don’t let anybody take it away”

Credit: Never-Underestimating-Yourself. Digital image. PopSugar.

She was young but life taught her that all you have is yourself! 

Credit: selena-y-chris-perez-abraza. Digital image. Telem. undo

We can’t believe she was just 23 when she died. Truly wise beyond her years. She even eloped with hubby Chris Perez as a sign of independence. 

Latinos Are Not Shy About Being Out, Loud And Proud Because It's Always Pride In Our Hearts

Identity

Latinos Are Not Shy About Being Out, Loud And Proud Because It’s Always Pride In Our Hearts

Being part of the LGBTQ community is hard in itself. There are societal pressures and a recent spike in hate crimes committed against the LGBTQ community. Being queer and a Latino brings another set of issues that so many people never have to deal with. There is deep-seeded anti-LGBTQ sentiment within the Latino community connected to machismo that still needs to be dealt with.

However, one thing queer people know is that you have to be out, loud and proud when it is safe to do so. It changes people’s perception of the community when they know someone who is LGBTQ. It becomes personal and helps the community strive. Here are some Latinos who are proud to be part of the LGBTQ community and they are not hiding it.

Queen Sara Ramirez offered support lines for what can be a very difficult, or very cathartic day for folks.

CREDIT: @SaraRamirez / Twitter

Coming out is the most intense and nerve-wracking day for anyone trying to live their authentic self. What if my parents don’t accept me? What if my friends stop talking to me? It is a scary time and people some times need help outside of their immediate friends group.

LGBTQ people are sharing their PDA everywhere they can on the internet.

CREDIT: @realrainbowlove / Twitter

I’m here for this. It’s unreal that gay PDA was stigmatized on television and movies as recently as five years ago. Remember when that petition went around to get Cam and Mitch to kiss on screen on “Modern Family”? We’ve made strides but there is still so far to go.

“One Day at a Time” writers gave LGBTQ Latinos a chance to see themselves represented on television in a non-stereotypical fashion.

CREDIT: @ODAATwriters / Twitter

It is one of the few times we have seen a Latino family coming together to support an LGBTQ person on their family on television. It is a sweet reminder that Latino families just love their families.

Fun fact: Puerto Rico ranks higher than the U.S. on Spartacus’ Safety Travel Index.

CREDIT: @everwilde / Instagram

They have more laws on the books to protect trans people than the U.S. This is easy to do because the United States has *zero* laws that protect trans people from discrimination.

Seeing queer Latinos all over the internet as a normal couple goes a long way.

CREDIT: @harahsernandez / Instagram

Representation is so important for people living in a marginalized community. Queer Latinos have long been over dramatized in the media and it gives an unreal expectation of what it means to have a queer famiy member.

There are times when humor is the best way to go about coming out.

CREDIT: @69gummybears / Twitter

“Oh, hi mami, I’m just bingeing this really great show, “The L Word” because I don’t like men. Want to watch it with me? Want to hear my favorite characters?”

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

CREDIT: @mommaamiaaa / Twitter

The pride wear is real. Most of us go all out for pride… and also #NationalComingOutDay. Peep Latina owned TomboyX for queer-friendly, everybody-friendly underwear. Yes, some of the waistbands are rainbow. 🌈

What we know on the other side:

CREDIT: @papergabe / Twitter

Once I accepted who I was and was out to the world, I assumed my family would disown me once I told them. A whole year later, I told them and it was a mixed bag. Whatever your fears are, they’re much bigger than the reality. Come out in your own time. You’ll know when you’re ready.

Yep, anyone who was paying attention could have called it.

CREDIT: @DiscreetLatino / Twitter

As Latinos, we thrive in the art of denial and we learn it from the best. So what if I played rugby all through high school and talked about my “girl crushes.”

They will ignore you until you start shining rainbows out your ears. Don’t expect them to willingly take the hint.

Bad Bunny is almost definitely the present day crush for all genders.

CREDIT: @tpxrk / Twitter

Yes to these glasses, yes to this attitude. You don’t have to come out as anything other than queer. I mean, we all know by now that gender is a construct with infinite expressions across the spectrum so why name just one, or two, or three if you’re attracted to more?

Everyone has a ‘song’ or artist crush.

CREDIT: @anthonysthots / Twitter

I was in love with Avril Lavigne growing up, hbu? My Christian elementary school told me she was a sinner and then I fell harder.

Some Latinos repped for Jesus.

CREDIT: @thelatinohandmodel / Twitter

I mean, personally, I’m forever scarred by the Catholic Church and my homophobic father, but I  👏🏽 am 👏🏽 here 👏🏽 for 👏🏽 you. We need more people willing to open LGBT youth with loving arms in every corner of the world.

Other people repped themselves. ✌🏽

CREDIT: @lavodnas_j / Twitter

Also, very cool, mijx. There is nothing better than living your truth regardless of people’s perceptions.

We can’t forget to shine some light on our bi friends and family.

CREDIT: @uncool_vicki / Twitter

Bisexuals make up the vast majority of the LGBT community and yet have some of the worst stigmas. The more folks own it with pride, the stronger the community. Vale.

There’s nothing like celebrating your coming out anniversary.

CREDIT: @_leilanipinedo / Twitter

Every year there is a whole new set of feelings around it, verdad? You look back at how your life looked and how you felt a year ago and see the evolution. It’s something worth celebrating.

The glo up is self-evident and ever glowing!

CREDIT: @mirandajadee7 / Twitter

Ever looked back on photos of yourself when you were still trying to perform to fit in? Only do this around Halloween because there is no other appropriate time for it.

Some of us called out white-washing when we see it.

CREDIT: @anthonysthots / Twitter

The organization actually does an incredible job of representing the diverse LGBT community. Check their feed and check their apoyo of Emma Gonzalez.

Organizations that offer mentorships can be so important for people who can’t come out to their families.

CREDIT: @jaileaan / Twitter

We all remember whatever periods of time we acted straight or used “they” pronouns to describe our significant other. Going home to the family in those days sucked. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, friend.

TBH, not everyone has a hard coming out story.

CREDIT: @shlomo4u / Twitter

I’m not saying that this guy didn’t struggle. I hope he didn’t. I hope that one day, nobody feels strange and alone in a hetero world. Times are changing.

READ: Here Are 11 LGBTQ Latinos Who Will Make You Proud To Say You Are Part Of The Same Community

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