Entertainment

Valentina Took To The RuPaul Stage Dressed As A Mariachi And It Slayed

Season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is in full swing and one queen is giving the contestants and “Drag Race” fans all the Latina heat they can handle. Valentina, representing Latinos from East L.A., rocked her first runway look by throwing it all the way back…to Mariachi Plaza. The Mexicana queen is already proving herself as a force to be reckoned with her upbeat personality, utterly slaying looks, and by winning the first challenge. Introducing, Valentina – or

Ladies and gentlemen… Introducing, Valentina – or James Leyva when not in drag.

Introducing Valentina, the Latina queen slaying on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”


“My type of drag is very dramatic, very theatrical, and always very Latina,” Valentina, who has only been doing drag for 10 months, said on the season 9 premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” “I’m an undiscovered superstar.”

This queen can give you Barbie doll glam…


“I think I would consider myself a glamor girl, but I think it depends on my look and my level of performance,” Valentina told LAist.

Comedy…


And, when not in drag, smoldering Latino realness.

✨?Amor a la Mexicana?✨ #AllAboutValentina ?: @abelr

A post shared by Valentina? (@allaboutvalentina) on


Yas, James! YAAASSSS!!!!

On the first episode of season 9, performers were told to present an outfit the represents their neighborhood and Valentina did not disappoint.

RuPaul's Drag Race / VH1 / grammylesslana / Tumblr
CREDIT: RuPaul’s Drag Race / VH1 / grammylesslana / Tumblr

“What I do is very romantic, very regal, very elegant,” Valentina told LAist. “Being Latino and being Mexican, it’s everything that I am and I try to make sure no matter what I’m doing, it’s always through the eye and through the lens of a powerful Latina woman.”

“I’m from East L.A. representing Mariachi Plaza,” Valentina proclaimed while strutting down that runway.

RuPaul's Drag Race / VH1 / grammylesslana / Tumblr
CREDIT: RuPaul’s Drag Race / VH1 / grammylesslana / Tumblr

[slays in Spanish]

In March, Valentina made headlines with fellow “Drag Race” contestant Trinity Taylor and photographer Jason King when they were attacked in West Hollywood.

I’ve debated writing this post because I don’t usually like to put my very personal stuff out on social media. I’m not…

Posted by Jason King on Friday, March 17, 2017

“Last night Trinity Taylor, James Leyva [Valentina], two other friends and myself were walking home after the club and a guy we didn’t know took it upon himself to join our group but not saying anything,” King wrote on Facebook about the incident. “After a certain amount of time this became uncomfortable and he was asked very politely by Valentina [James Leyva] to please not follow us. He said his car was parked in the same direction we were going so he was asked again politely to go ahead of us and we would wait. He asked us to go ahead of him instead and it went back and forth like that a couple of times until finally Valentina said we would go the other way and the guy then punched him. I went to go get the guy off of Valentina and he punched me in the nose and broke it. I spent 9 hours in the ER.”

Valentina posted a video to Instagram letting his fans know that he was okay after the event.

?I love you guys so much?

A post shared by Valentina? (@allaboutvalentina) on


“I just want to let everyone know that I’m okay. I’m doing really good,” Valentina says in the video. “The incident happened and I’m fine. Everyone is fine. Jason is fine. Trinity is fine. I have lots of support from family and friends and it wasn’t a hate crime. It was just a crazy druggie who was out there just being bad. I was a lucky person to have had it happen to.”


READ: This Queen Is Utterly Destroying This Texas High School In Her New Revenge Movie

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Vogue Mexico Teamed Up With British Vogue To Show The Beauty Of ‘Muxes’ An Ancestral Gender-Fluid Indigenous Community

Fierce

Vogue Mexico Teamed Up With British Vogue To Show The Beauty Of ‘Muxes’ An Ancestral Gender-Fluid Indigenous Community

voguemexico/ Instagram

Sometimes, fashion is more than just a mirror of society. In a few instances, the fashion industry has actually been responsible for reshaping reality rather than just mirroring it. One way it does this is by breaking taboos and introducing marginalized ideas into the mainstream. The current visibility of transgender people is a development that the fashion world has embraced in recent years. Granted, fashion’s focus on the topic is, more often than not, on the “blurring of traditional lines between genders” to explore androgyny, but many designers and brands are currently emphasizing on a ‘gender-neutral’ and non-binary ethos. The editorial side of fashion however, has been a bit slow to embrace representation and support genderqueer people—but this month, Vogue Mexico and Latin-America, in collaboration with British Vogue, are leading the charge, by dedicating their cover story to a small group of people in Juchitán Oaxaca who seek to live outside of binary labels: Los Muxes.

Vogue Mexico and Latin-America has proven to be the most ‘woke’ publication of Conde Nast’s portfolio this year.

instagram @voguemexico

 The magazine has doubled up on its efforts for representation and diversity. Just this year they made history by featuring an indigenous woman, Yalitza Aparicio, on the cover of a magazine for the very first time, ever. A few months later they featured four Afro-Latinas on their cover and opened the floor to discussion about what being Afro-Latina means. Just last month they honored indigenous women of different parts of Latin America for their 20th anniversary issue. And now, the magazine is shining a light on a centuries-old non-binary indigenous community of rural Mexico, and introducing them to the world. 

In recent years, Oaxaca has become somewhat of a trendy destination. 

instagram @oaxtravel

The Zapotec state is a multicultural hub in the south of Mexico known for its delicious climate, rich food and complex history. The people of Oaxaca have fought hard to keep a lot of their centuries-old traditions and beliefs alive, and one of these beliefs —or rather, a group of people— is called “muxes.”

In Juchitán, a small indigenous town in Southern Oaxaca, a community of individuals known as ‘Muxes’, seek to live free of binary labels “male” and “female.”

instagram @johnohono

 The word muxes also spelled muxhes in some instances, comes from the Spanish word for woman “mujer,” and it generally represents people who are assigned male at birth, but identify as non-binary. Muxes have their own gender identity, different from what the West has traditionally dubbed to be female and male. 

The iterations among the Muxe community and their self-identifications vary – some identify as male but are female-expressing, while others identify as female and are more closely associated with Western culture’s understanding of transgender. In their culture, the term “third gender” might be more suitable to define Muxes. 

Muxes are ‘dual’ beings, they don’t believe in being ‘female’ or ‘male’, they simply are.

Instagram @salvadorconpan

“To be muxe is a duality. We carry out the role depending on the circumstances, sometimes I might seem like a man, and others like a woman,” says Pedro Enriquez Godínez Gutiérrez, a person known locally in Juchitán as “La Kika,” in an interview with Vogue Mexico. Apart from being a muxe, he’s the Director of Sexual Diversity of Juchitán Town Hall. 

Muxes have lived in Juchitan since pre-hispanic times, there are a few indigenous legends that explain their origins and give a faith to the antiquity of their existence.

instagram @voguemexico

There are two legends in Juchitán, that recount the origin of Muxes. One says that San Vicente Ferrer, the holy patron of Juchitán, had a pocket with holes in it, from which they fell out of. Another version says that as he walked the earth, San Vicente Ferrer, always carried three bags: one with male seeds, another loaded with female seeds, and a third that contained both seeds, mixed up. This last bag was the one that broke as he walked through Juchitán, and that is why there are so many muxes there. 

The people of Juchitán are a sort of pre-hispanic family. In this town the women are as strong as the men and muxes are as respected as both men and women. Ironically, the system of tolerance and respect that’s existed there for centuries is considered ‘modern’, elsewhere. 

Mixes are a community that not even the 21st century can wrap its head around. 

Instagram @rafa213

“Gubixha bizaani guirá neza guzá ca,” writes Vogue Mexico, is Zapotec for “the sun illuminated all the roads they have walked”, and perhaps that is why they can walk the streets without fear in a predominantly Catholic country that still struggles to offer equal rights for women and that is mostly intolerant of sexual orientations and preferences, Juchitán remains greatly untouched by this hate. Muxes walk the streets with flowers in their hair, they wear light huipiles —a traditional garment worn by indigenous women— and colorful skirts. This indigenous town is a model of how a culture can make space for life outside of the binary. Juchitán is an example to even the most progressive cities of the world. 

Vogue Mexico and Latin America teamed up with British Vogue to celebrate both British and Mexican talent. 

Instagram @voguemexico

The collaboration marked the first time both publications work together on a joint story. The experience allowed both publications to exchange ideas and share their cultures. Vogue Mexico’s cover, featuring Estrella, one of the muxes from Juchitán, was shot by Tim Walker, the iconic British fashion photographer, and the story will be published on both magazines for the month of December. 

Vogue Mexico’s Editor-In-Chief took to Instagram to share the news of the cover story. 

Instagram @karlamartinezdesalas

“It’s finally here!!! We are releasing one of our December covers early as it is a special joint collaboration with @britishvogue – thank you @edward_enninful for featur[ing] the beauty of MEXICO in the pages of British Vogue. No one could have captured the magical realism better than Tim Walker and Kate Phelan. Stay tuned for more!” wrote the Mexican editor Karla Martinez de Salas on her personal Instagram page.

Vogue Mexico’s December issue will be available nation-wide starting December 1st.  

This Woman’s Viral Poem Explores The Cultural Stigma Attached To LGBTQ Identities

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This Woman’s Viral Poem Explores The Cultural Stigma Attached To LGBTQ Identities

@2shotsofmely / Twitter

We all know how annoying family can be, nitpicking and offering opinions about how we choose to live our lives. Sometimes, though, our relatives’ perspectives are more than frustrating—they can be hurtful, causing us to question and doubt our place in the world. For many of us, it may be really difficult to address these issues with our loved ones, and we might often need to process these complex situations on our own before we can make any progress within our relationships. For Twitter user Hot Girl Scholar (@2shotsofmely), art was part of this process. She addressed some deep family conflict through poetry, and y’all, Twitter was shook.

According to her pinned tweet, @2shotsofmely and her family emigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was seven years old. In May of this year, she graduated cum laude from Clark University with a BA in English and a minor in Education, ecstatic to dedicate her degree to immigrant and first-generation students. By embracing her role as a “hood girl, educator, and undercover poet,” @2shotsofmely is “living [her] mama’s wildest dreams”—although the poems that have electrified Twitter focus on some hard-to-swallow cultural viewpoints, reiterated by su madre y su abuela.

In poetry, the author of the poem is not always the speaker of the poem, but because of the caption in @2shotsofmely’s post (“Heard it so much I wrote poems about it”), it is clear that these poems—displayed on the walls of Elevated Thought, a Lawrence-based art and social justice organization—are written from her perspective. 

In one poem, “Negra Yo, Pero El No!,” @2shotsofmely acknowledges the hypocrisy (and the shadowy nature of racism and colorism) that defines how her mother reacts to a hypothetical boyfriend: based on the title, we know that @2shotsofmely’s mother is black, yet she proclaims that if @2shotsofmely ever dated a moreno, he must have a thin nose—la nariz fina—green eyes like @2shotsofmely’s grandfather, and “good hair.” In other words, he must not have black features. Why? “Because hay que refinar la raza.”

In the other poem, “LGBTQue?,” @2shotsofmely explores the cultural stigma attached to LGBTQ identities, affirming that her grandmother would “prefer [we] open [our] legs for all the men in the barrio before we walk around with a sister in our arms.”

The original tweet has garnered over 2.3k likes and 900 retweets—people can’t stop gassing @2shotsofmely’s badass display of honesty, the simultaneous pride in and critique of her roots. Several people expressed solidarity, citing events from their own lives that mirrored @2shotsofmely’s poetry.

This Twitter user really related to @2shotsofmely’s experience on the receiving end of her mother’s words.

This Latina responded in Spanish, explaining that her own grandmother married a white man para “mejorar la raza,” but affirmed that it wasn’t her fault—this point of view, according to @ditasea88, is a remnant of colonization.

This Twitter user applauded “LGBTQue?” for its resonance and truth.

Her poems even moved some folks to tears.

Although each of these tweets suggests a common experience which is largely negative, the response to @2shotsofmely’s poetry was rich with compassion—not only for those other Twitter users who share that experience, but for the madres y abuelas whose lives were very different than ours, and who had to make different decisions as a result. History is complex and difficult to synthesize without a broad contextual understanding, and @2shotsofmely’s work draws attention to how cultural patterns from the past can leave a dark impact on the present. However, alongside the criticism and pain at the core of these poems, there is something else: a sense of defiance and hope.

Now, in the midst of the political chaos within our country, it is especially important to celebrate the victories of individuals and groups creating supportive platforms for folks—particularly people of color—to express themselves. It is always exciting to see expressions of Latinidad—from art to poetry to a bomb Insta selfie—spark conversation and communion, even if people are relating about moments that have left them hurt or bruised. In a way, this type of conversation creates a sense of camaraderie, amistad—a feeling of familia.  

And although a lot of Latina familias struggle with antiquated viewpoints (like those presented in @2shotsofmely’s poems), times are changing, and cultural expectations are becoming more inclusive to Latinx people with a range of diverse identities. Often, the more difficult aspects of our upbringing lead us to create meaningful work and connect with others who can relate to us—@2shotsofmely’s poetry is a great example of how intergenerational trauma can produce beauty, connection, and personal growth when you honor yourself and your dreams. @2shotsofmely, you go, girl!