Culture

Queer Chicana Photographer Laura Aguilar Passes Away At 58

For Laura Aguilar, photography was more than just a way to express herself but an outlet for the world to see another side of being Chicana. Whether it was capturing her Mexican-American heritage or her identity as a lesbian, Aguilar was a trailblazer whose impact touched many in the queer Latino community. The 58-year-old Los Angeles photographer died on Wednesday morning due to end-stage renal failure, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Laura’s passing is a profound loss,” said Chon Noriega, director of the Chicano Studies Research Center, according to LA Times. “She had an ability to cut through the biases and habits of thought that makes us see a smaller world than actually exists. And she did it as an expression of the stunning beauty of the human body, including her own.”

Her photography chronicled the lives and identities of marginalized people of color including herself.

Aguilar’s images were featured in exhibitions across the country including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, Artpace in San Antonio and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.

Her work was trailblazing for many in the queer community because of the raw and powerful subjects depicted.

“Laura’s work a lot of time represents people that are marginalized and people that are oppressed or people that are invisible,” Sybil Venegas, a curator for Aguilar’s past exhibits, told LA Weekly. “Poor, large women of color — they tend to be invisible in society. Nobody sees them. They’re not represented in media.”

Fans of her work have taken to social media to honor her work and influence on their lives.

Some of her fans saw themselves in her work and could relate to many of the subjects depicted in her various work.

Laura Aguilar’s legacy will live on forever with her photographs and fans that she impacted with her work.

Just this past year her work was part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA series whose theme was highlighting Latino work in Los Angeles. “Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell” at the Vincent Price Art Museum on the campus of East Los Angeles College, and her photography appeared last year in the two-part exhibition “Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.” 


Read: This Queer Immigration Activist Is Pushing The Boundaries Of Brown LGBTQ Art

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A Recently Shared Letter From Frida Kahlo To Diego Rivera Details Her Struggle The Day Before Having Her Leg Amputated And It Will Break Your Heart

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A Recently Shared Letter From Frida Kahlo To Diego Rivera Details Her Struggle The Day Before Having Her Leg Amputated And It Will Break Your Heart

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Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have been known for having one of the art world’s most notoriously turbulent marriages. Both artists were guilty of having multiple affairs and straying away from their marriage, breaking up and getting back together only to become one again. Yet, despite their hard times, the Mexican artists had a bond that transcended the ages and one that has stirred countless discussions about their passion and love.

In a series of love letters from Kahlo to Rivera published in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait readers are given insight into both the anguish and longing that was woven into their marriage.

One letter, recently shared by the Instagram page @historycoolkids, shows a momentary rift in their marriage when Kahlo was preparing to have her leg amputated.

Written in 1953, the letter for Rivera was written while Kahlo was in the hospital.

It reads:

⁣”I’m writing this letter from a hospital room before I am admitted into the operating theatre. They want me to hurry, but I am determined to finish writing first, as I don’t want to leave anything unfinished. Especially now that I know what they are up to. They want to hurt my pride by cutting a leg off. When they told me it would be necessary to amputate, the news didn’t affect me the way everybody expected. No, I was already a maimed woman when I lost you, again, for the umpteenth time maybe, and still I survived.⁣

I am not afraid of pain and you know it. It is almost inherent to my being, although I confess that I suffered, and a great deal, when you cheated on me, every time you did it, not just with my sister but with so many other women. How did they let themselves be fooled by you?

Let’s not fool ourselves, Diego, I gave you everything that is humanly possible to offer and we both know that. But still, how the hell do you manage to seduce so many women when you’re such an ugly son of a bitch?

The reason why I’m writing is not to accuse you of anything more than we’ve already accused each other of in this and however many more bloody lives. It’s because I’m having a leg cut off (damned thing, it got what it wanted in the end). I told you I’ve counted myself as incomplete for a long time, but why the fuck does everybody else need to know about it too? Now my fragmentation will be obvious for everyone to see, for you to see… That’s why I’m telling you before you hear it on the grapevine. I’m writing to let you know I’m releasing you, I’m amputating you. Be happy and never seek me again. I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t want you to hear from me. If there is anything I’d enjoy before I die, it’d be not having to see your fucking horrible bastard face wandering around my garden.⁣

That is all, I can now go to be chopped up in peace.⁣

Good bye from somebody who is crazy and vehemently in love with you,⁣

Your Frida”

Despite the letter, Kahlo didn’t “amputate” Rivera out of her life completely.

In fact, in her last days, Kahlo lived with Rivera and even made a public appearance with him in a demonstration against the CIA invasion of Guatemala. After her death, Rivera stated that her loss was “the most tragic day of my life.” Three years after his death, Riva requested to have his ashes mixed with Kahlo’s (this despite the fact that he married again after her death). Instead, the Mexican government opted to inter his remains in Mexico City’s famous Rotunda of Illustrious Men.

The message from Kahlo is being celebrated by her fans on Instagram as the “best letter in history.”

Fans of Kahlo called her letter “badass” and the greatest they’d ever read. “She was such a talent and such a twisted soul,” one user wrote in the post’s comment sections.

That part where she wonders why Diego was able to be such a womanizer despite being an “ugly son of a bitch” does pretty much make her badass.

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Entertainment

Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.

Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.

Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.

Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.

Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.

Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.

The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.

Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”

Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.

Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.

Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.

Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.

The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.

Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.

Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

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