Entertainment

The San Antonio Four Were A Set Of Wrongly Convicted Lesbians Who’d Been Accused Of Devil Worship In the 90s

"Southwest of Salem"

In the ’90s, members of the LBGTQ community were finally starting to find some tolerance in mainstream culture. Most major cities around the world had a gay night scene and many small communities were being formed by lesbians and gay men. Unfortunately, LGBTQ people still encountered bigotry and homophobia regularly. From everyday altercations to murderous attacks, being gay in the ’90s was still dangerous.

That didn’t stop Elizabeth Ramirez from coming out and living her life as a gay woman. Although her hometown of San Antonio Texas was very conservative at the time, Ramirez was happily involved with her girlfriend, Kristie Mayhugh. The two were building a happy life together along with their close friends, Cassandra Rivera, and Anna Vasquez.

Unfortunately, devastating accusations would rock San Antonio and cost each women years of their freedom.

This is the story of the San Antonio Four and the horrible accusations and homophobia that led to their incarceration.

Twitter / @maurinanoe

The events that led to their imprisonment started innocently enough. The four women were staying together at the time. It was 1994 when they welcomed Ramirez’s young nieces into their home for a weeklong stay. After the visit, the girls’ father went to the police and reported a truly horrific story.

According to the father, Javier Limon, the girls had been sexually abused and tortured by the women. More than that, his accusations claimed they had been gang-raped in a Satanic ritual and “indoctrinated into a lesbian lifestyle.” The nieces were only 7 and 9 years old at the time.

The girls were interviewed several times and gave inconsistent statements with varying details. Physical examination found no major signs of sexual assault. However, prosecutors used child abuse specialist, Dr. Nancy Kellogg, to argue the opposite. In now-defunct testimony, Dr. Kellogg blamed common vaginal wear on abuse by the San Antonio women.

The San Antonio police department claimed that the women’s sexuality was not relevant to the investigation. Yet, their actions argue the opposite.

Twitter / @PopularLonerr

This case was during the Satanic Panic of the 1990s. The public was obsessed with news of Satanic rituals and cults during this time. Homosexuality was often linked to these reports of rituals and sex magic. It was also a common thought at the time that homosexuals were more likely to sexually harm children. Had the four women not been recently-outed lesbians, the police more than likely wouldn’t have pursued the complaints.

Likewise, had the women not been lesbians, the complaints probably never would’ve been made to begin with. Limon, the girls’ father, was romantically interested in Ramirez. The San Antonio man was her brother-in-law but he had expressed desire for her before. Notably, when she was just a teenager. Ramirez had rejected him before coming out. However, her happy relationship with Mayhugh probably encouraged Limon to retaliate against the women.

Sadly, the San Antonio Four were tried and found guilty. They each received between 15 to 37 years in prison for a crime that had no proof.

Twitter / @mercurymiya

It wasn’t until 2012 when any relief seemed likely for the jailed women. That year, one of Ramirez’s nieces recanted the allegations. Furthermore, she explained that her father, Limon, was to blame for the accusations. Her father, she said, threatened her and her sister as girls and continued the emotional abuse all their lives. This is what kept the San Antonio Four’s innocence a secret for so long.

In 2012, Vasquez was the first of the San Antonio Four to be released from prison. However, it was parole that released her, not her own innocence. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that the other three were released on bail while their guilt was reassessed. Later that same year, their sentences would be cut short and they would be declared innocent of all charges. The San Antonio Four were finally free.

Their struggle encouraged the documentary “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.” Now, you can stream the truth for yourself.

Twitter / @DaRealChrisCo

“Southwest of Salem” follows the redemption of the San Antonio Four. The documentary was released in 2016 but is now available to stream on both Hulu and Amazon Prime. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100% Fresh and is scored 7.1/10 on IMDd.com. The documentary also won a Peabody Award and won “Outstanding Documentary” at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards.

“Southwest of Salem” clearly deals with difficult themes. However, it’s an important documentary to see — especially as more cases of police and prosecutor misconduct become uncovered. If we know of the atrocities that have happened in the past, we can stop them from ever happening again.

Here’s Why Everyone Is Talking About Hulu’s ‘Culture Shock’ A Horror Film That Highlights The Migrant Crisis

Entertainment

Here’s Why Everyone Is Talking About Hulu’s ‘Culture Shock’ A Horror Film That Highlights The Migrant Crisis

In the most recent installment of Blumhouse’s “Into the Dark” Hulu TV movie anthology series, “Culture Shock”, a story about a Mexican woman who finds herself trapped in a warped American utopia after attempting to cross the border, Blumhouse explores the horrors of the migrant crisis, adding a dose of supernatural to the already chilling situation many migrants are face when striving for a better life. 

“Culture Shock” follows Marisol, played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda, a poor young pregnant woman living in Mexico who dreams of a better life for her and her unborn child.

Hulu

“Culture Shock” immediately establishes the harrowing conditions that many immigrants face in their home countries before deciding to emigrate. Indeed, one of “Culture Shock”‘s first scenes shows Marisol being raped by Oscar, a man we had previously been led to believe was her loving boyfriend. Shortly after, we also discover that Oscar stole money she had given him to secure her passage across the border to the U.S. This leaves Martha stranded and alone in her home country of Mexico, and also now carrying the child of the man who assaulted her, which adds even more urgency to her situation.

Marisol bravely decides to attempt the crossing one more time to secure a future for her and her baby, paying a “coyote” hundreds of dollars to help smuggle her into the U.S. The journey isn’t an easy one–at nearly every stop on the way to America, Marisol is strong-armed into giving every new handler additional money–money that she wasn’t told about before. If nothing, “Culture Shock” gives a realistic, if infuriating,  portrayal of all of the injustice desperate migrants are subjected to while trying to cross the border. And the danger is steeper than ever for Marisol, a single woman who is also pregnant. The threat of sexual violence on Marisol’s body is constant, and what’s more disturbing is how habituated to sexual and other forms of violence she seems to be. It’s just another subtle nod towards her complicated and traumatic history.

After being caught at the U.S. border, Marisol wakes up in a pastel-colored paradise that embodies the American dream in every aspect: the residents are beaming, the food is delicious and abundant, and the pervading sense of peace and harmony of the so-called town of “Cape Joy” easily lulls Marisol into an immediate sense of security. It’s here that the director, Latina auteur Gigi Saul Guerrero, begins to flex her artistic muscles. The cinematography is disorienting, with off-center and odd-angled close-ups, quick cutaways that mimic Marisol’s constant confusion, and a visual stark contrast between Marisol’s old, dreary life in Mexico and her new, vibrant life in Cape Joy, USA.  

But something isn’t right in Cape Joy.

Hulu

Not only does Marisol have no recent memories of what happened to her after being caught by US Border Patrol, but the fellow immigrants she crossed over with have no idea who she is. And while Marisol mysteriously gave birth to her baby while she was presumably unconscious, she’s never allowed to hold her. When Marisol expresses concern to her host mother, Betty (Barbara Crampton) about her missing old belongings, Betty tells her: “Don’t worry about what you’ve lost. Think instead of all that you’ve gained.” It’s lines like this, which are obviously meant to convey more than just the literal meaning of the words, that the movie leans hard into.

Throughout “Into the Dark”, there is an underlying current of not-so-subtle political messaging that makes it obvious that this movie isn’t your typical straight-forward horror film. It’s as much a vehicle for social commentary and critique on the migrant crisis and America’s inhumane treatment of migrants at the border as it is about delivering stomach-churning gore and jump scares. The movie, directed by,  confirms the existential fear many migrants have of looked at as sub-human when they try to cross the border. Sometimes, the social commentary comes off as a little too on-the-nose, with Big-Bads saying things such as: “Nobody gives a fuck about these people,” and “We’re not paid to give [them] the American Dream. We’re paid to keep them out of it”. 

When the mystery behind the oddness of Cape Joy is finally revealed, the element of sci-fi and horror that’s added to Marisol’s story can almost feel like a relief, purely due to its obvious fictional tropes. The more terrifying parts of the movie–the abusive boyfriends, the violent men, the human traffickers, and the Mexican cartel–are arguably more frightening than the supernatural parts.

And lest, while watching, you trick yourself into thinking the movie isn’t really a horror movie, prepare yourself for a few jarring scenes.

Hulu

The climax of the movie is an extremely gruesome and violently gory climax that establishes the anthology installment as exactly what it markets itself as: a horror movie. But as we’ve seen in headlines that flood the TV, the newspapers, and our phones, sometimes, reality can be more horrifying than fiction. 

Grab The Tissues! These Latinas Told Us Their Coming Out Stories And We Have Been Sobbing In Pride

Culture

Grab The Tissues! These Latinas Told Us Their Coming Out Stories And We Have Been Sobbing In Pride

Coming out can be an extremely personal thing. Yet, for a Latina living in a Latino community, where family, friends, neighbors are all considered part of the mix, they can be exceptionally stressful. From dealing with machismo and religious ideals, for many, coming out can tear a person apart. For many of us, on the other hand, our families can provide all the comfort we need.

In honor of Pride Month, we asked Latinas on Instagram about their coming out experiences and boy did they deliver!

A story that had a surprisingly supportive ending.

“I finally came out to my mom last year when I got into a relationship with my girlfriend since it was my first time dating a woman. My mother and I have always been close so I told her since I was living out of state at the moment and I wanted her to know about my relationship. I told her I was in a new relationship but that it was with a woman. She just looked and me and instantly said, “okay y cual es la problema? No importa con quien estes sea hombre o mujer, solo que estes feliz. Si tu estas feliz, yo estoy feliz. Si tu estás bien, yo voy a estar bien.” – @__shirls__

How pain and cutting ties wouldn’t keep her from being herself in the end.

“I came out to my parents 10 years ago when I was in high school. I had a girlfriend at the time and they had already suspected I was into girls. It didn’t go well at all. To sum things up, over the past ten years it’s been a battle on and off with trying to fight feeling invisible and invalidated, because God forbid we talk about sexuality. Anyway, it took me moving away and temporarily cutting ties for my parents to finally start coming around to it. Only recently after 10 years of trying to talk to my parents about it, my mom finally told me she’s accepted me for who I am, and will continue to work through it. And really, all I had ever wanted was for her to try. There was ten years of gritos and lagrimas, and finally this time the lagrimas were no longer out of enojo but rather love and compassion. t’s never too late.” – @ohluccia

Chisme did it all for her and she didn’t mind.

“My mom accidentally found out (i do not know how, i think she saw a text on my lock screen), confronted me, and when i asked her how she did she know, she said “i mean… we all kind of knew… i mean what girl wears flannels and wants to live with her best friend and eighty cats?” and then came out to me also, she’s bi. unfortunately she also found out about my ex, and asked how our relationship was, i had to awkwardly tell her i ended things a week before, and it took me another 2-3 years to tell her that ex-girlfriend was an abusive shithead. my mama gas supported me always, and i wish other parents did the same to their kids.” – ki.kibug

The one where she was told it was “just a phase.”

“I came out as pansexual at 15 and my moms first reaction was saying it was a phase and would pass, and telling me I needed to pray, that she would pray for me, and that i should try therapy. My mom has always been my best friend and I honestly don’t blame her for reacting this way, but I did make it clear it wasn’t going to change. I decided to take one day out of the year to remind her that I’m still pansexual, regardless of who I am with. I know for the most part she’s able to ignore my sexuality because I’ve had more serious boyfriends than girlfriends buy it’s still there, and a huge part of me. For the rest of my family I’ve only told those who have directly asked me or brought it up on conversation which have just been my younger cousins and they are completely supportive. There’s a good amount of my family that I haven’t said those words to yet, but I am willing to at a drop of a hat.” – @carmennurinda

The one where she threw up.

“It was difficult… I was with my super religious aunt and she was asking why I still don’t have a bf how it upsets my mom that I haven’t given her grandchildren and stuff and I remember there was a big cross on the wall ( typical Pr 🇵🇷) and she said “ Mija te ves tristes porque?” And i just broke and said “ tia estoy triste porque yo se que mi mamá y todos en la familia vas hablar mal de mi porque dos mujeres no puedes tienen un bebé “ and i ran and threw up . My mom showed up when I was throwing up and she freaked out it was horrible …my tia had to calm my mom down she kept saying “what did she do wrong” it was bad.” – j_nyx_

A story about coming out in the most freeing way she knew how.

“I said it via text. With my engagement ring on. Fuck it. At 34 I wasn’t going to hide myself any longer.”- vvaz__

A story that includes being outed before she was ready.

“Unfortunately I was outed before I was emotionally and mentally ready to endure the rejection. Blessed to say after 10 years my mom accepts my sexuality. People need to know the damage they can cause by outing a loved one when they are not ready. You might think you’re helping but not in all cases. Best way to help is by motivating them to be proudly be themselves. ” – karydred

When her abuelita found out on social but just wanted to be supportive.

“Told my family, my mom goes “finally, we were wondering when you’d come out.” and i was like “huh??” and my sister said “you wear flannels everyday, you want to live with your best friend with no men, and you want to have a household of cats??” my abuela basically found out via facebook and bombarded my mom with questions on how to support me.” – ki.kibug

A sad story of still not being totally out.

“I haven’t yet because at 15 when rumors about me were said at school my sister told my mom about it and my mom cried and said she’d disown me if they were true so I lied and said they weren’t.” – tired.latina

A mother who is proud of her daughter no matter what.

“I’m 41. I’m Hispanic, my husband is 46, Mexican & Puerto Rican. Our daughter was a straight A student in elementary. All of a sudden her grades slipped, she became depressed and withdrawn. Then the summer going into 8th grade, she wrote us a letter coming out. She said she was so full of anxiety, not knowing if we would still love her. We basically let her know that it was a nonissue for us. We knew from the time she was a toddler that she was gay. I felt like, there didn’t need to be a big coming out. I don’t see her any different than I see my other children. She’s 15 now & has been with her girlfriend for 11 months. We love her too.” – shes_crafty77

It happend over email and “things are so much better, but not perfect.”

“I did it via email at the age of 27… I was scared, felt ashamed, and thought I’d lose it all… It was hard for me. It was hard for my mom and we took some time to really talk about it almost a year later… Things are so much better, but not perfect. I’m blessed to openly be with my wife in our family, yet there’s still lots to unpack.” – labruxapg

The Latina mama bear who loves her son no importa qué.

“I’m a proud mom of a gay son who came out at the age of 12, as a Latina mom, our culture is harsh on LGBTQ+ every day I try and break that cycle and barriers. My house is a safe haven for my son’s friends and for those kids that have been rejected. As a mom I want you to know that you are loved, you are unique and you are so brave! Hugs and hugs and hugs, you have a mom here that is so so proud of who you are.” – arco___iris___

The Latina who sacrificed herself for her sister.

“My abuela is Dominican, very religious and old school, and doesn’t like my sister’s Haitian boyfriend. One day, my sister was crying to me because my abuela said some harsh things to her about Haitians. My sister screamed at me, “NO! YOU DONT UNDERSTAND! Abuela doesn’t dislike who you are and who you love!” So I said fuck it, I came out to her as bisexual and told her that she’s not alone. We’ve become closer since and I can finally tell her the tea about the girls I like.” – slunaa24

A short story that has long-lasting tears.

“Mine had tears mainly my mom she kept asking what did she do wrong with me. It was a lot for her she’s better now but it’s been over 10 years.” – j_nyx_

When her mom reminded her that she was loved.

“I’m a proud mom of a gay son who came out at the age of 12, as a Latina mom, our culture is harsh on LGBTQ+ every day I try and break that cycle and barriers. My house is a safe haven for my son’s friends and for those kids that have been rejected. As a mom I want you to know that you are loved, you are unique and you are so brave! Hugs and hugs and hugs, you have a mom here that is so so proud of who you are.” – arco___iris___

Reminder! Come out only when you feel ready and safe to do so.

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