Culture

This Talented Artist Is Turning Video Game Characters Into Furry Osos

@leoleus / Instagram

Leonardo Gutierrez, an artist from Argentina who now lives in Santiago, Chile, has been creating art as far back as he can remember. He has dabbled in comics, web design, the booming video game industry in South America, and is now going into fashion via his company, Oso Apparel. As Gutierrez put it, “I’m all over the place [with art].” Gutierrez spoke with mitú about his clothing brand venture, which brings together classic video game and cartoon characters and the bear community.

Have you ever seen Luigi and Mario portrayed as bears? No, we’re not talking about the animal. We’re talking about the gay, human variety of bear.

In the gay community, the term “bear” refers to someone who can be in shape (but not totally ripped) or with a pot belly for days and has body and facial hair (because bears are furry). For some people in the LGBTQ community, bears are the unsung heroes of body positivity because the bear community embraces diversity in body shapes.

This is the visionary behind Oso Apparel and the transformation of video game characters into furry bears (not the animal).

Waiting for Ian at Daddy's ?

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“I guess the idea came from all those Disney princesses being turned into all sort of things, even cement mixers that one killed me,” Gutierrez says about his inspiration behind these reimagined characters. “But more than that I came up with the idea of making bear versions, or ‘bearsions’, of content that I like.”

“The first ones were actually my Sailor Bears,” says Gutierrez.

Though the Sailor Bears didn’t attract too much attention, Gutierrez continued to draw his favorite cartoon and video game characters into bears because that was just something he really enjoyed doing.

His second round of creating “bearsions” as he calls them came in the form of classic characters that are all in the Super Smash Bros. video game.

“I love and have been playing Smash Bros since the first game came out in 1999, so it was only natural to choose the game,” says Gutierrez. “Smash has a BIG collection of characters, so I decided to go for the original roster to keep it contained.”

Gutierrez identifies as someone in the bear community it definitely played a role in who he re-imagined these characters.

Gutierrez says that he has seen these characters depicted in fan art several times but one thing was missing, “bearsions” of these beloved characters.

His “bear art” consists of more than just re-imagining video game characters.

Made this sketchy love scene for @nibriceno ?

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“What gets me the most is when people tell me they made an emotional connection with my art,” Gutierrez says. “Like this one time I did a very loving piece of me and my now-ex hugging in bed, and a guy told me it got him tearing up as he realized he was worth being loved, like in the picture. That was one of the warmest comments I’ve ever received.”

When it comes to the haters, it’s safe to say that Gutierrez is unbothered.

Amazing Future-Finn makes Adventure Time so much better! xD

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“I love reading what people have to say, even in some of the dankest places,” Gutierrez admits. “I find most of the comments are hilarious, even the hateful ones.”

Gutierrez says that by creating these works of art, he is staying true to himself and giving representation to something that is not usually acknowledged.


Gutierrez says that the work he created in the past is not what he wanted to do. On the contrary, he found that work tedious, boring, and uninspiring. After some time struggling with drawing what other people wanted and liked, Gutierrez started to create bear art so that he could start representing his communities.

He also created Oso Apparel, a store with bear products.

Nothing like a bear hug! #osoapparel #enamelpin

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Despite the quick growth that Gutierrez says he’s experienced, he will be keeping the name in Spanish so the brand fully encompasses his Latino roots.

You can also get some of his drawings on T-shirts to wear your bear pride.


“I created my clothing brand OSO with this idea in mind, looking to give gays, geeks and bears a place in fashion and not just behind it,” Gutierrez says.

Gutierrez wants his fans and other bears to know that they are beautiful just the way they are.

“Society has its ideas and standards for the best body and so many people follow blindly. Don’t get caught by them,” Gutierrez says even though he admits that he also struggles with this issue. “You are beautiful and worth it and your mental and physical health is always the priority. It’s ok to not be happy with your body and it’s ok to like it just as it is. Whatever you do or think of it, just make sure it’s what you really want, and not just what others expect.”

Gutierrez has some plans to expand his clothing line as fast as possible but he knows that it is not possible without the support he has received from his fans.

“Last but not least, I want to thank every one of you who enjoy and support me and my art,” Gutierrez says. “I wouldn’t be here getting interviewed if it wasn’t for you.”


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

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Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

mirror_cooperative_ / Instagram

Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

transgender_together / Instagram

After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

Credit: @outmagazine / Twitter

Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried