John Leguizamo Explains Why He Embraces Latinx: ‘It’s Inclusive of Women and LGBTQ+ People’
For those of us in the LGBTQ+ community, the film “Wong Foo, Thank You for Everything! Julie Newmar” is a critical piece of the gospel. For Latinx people, it has been doubly important, all thanks to John Leguizamo.
The 1995 film directed by Beeban Kidron followed Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and Leguizamo himself, three New York drag queens who embark on a road trip.
Leguizamo’s role as Chi-Chi Rodriguez was nothing short of a masterpiece.
Back then, it was still customary for straight people to play queer roles. After all, men have been dressing up as women on the big screen for as long as we can remember.
Twenty-five years after the release of “Wong Foo,” Leguizamo recalled his role and acknowledged the importance of representation on the big screen.
“Latino people should play Latino people, no more brownface,” he told NBC News. “Enough of that, and […] same thing in the LGBTQ community, same thing. There are actors who are out there who should be playing those roles.”
And that’s because inclusion has been John Leguizamo’s battle standard for decades.
For the vindication of the term ‘Latinx’
One of Leguizamo’s most significant accomplishments after the success of “Wong Foo” was the recognition of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It was a very powerful thing. I get tons of fan letters from LGBTQ teens telling me how my character helped them come out to their parents,” Leguizamo said. “They didn’t feel seen, so that was a beautiful gift from the film.”
That’s why the actor is now vindicating the importance of the term Latinx.
During the promotion of his new show “Leguizamo Does America,” the actor spoke candidly about why the neologism is essential.
“I don’t know why Latinx is controversial, but it is controversial. People get very angry about it,” Leguizamo said. “To me, it’s ridiculous. The mere fact that we have a name and we check a box is huge. I mean, I know none of us want to be checking boxes. None of us want to be constantly talking about race, but you have to because otherwise, you get excluded. Your communities don’t get funded. Your schools don’t get funded unless you check that box and vote. You know what I mean? But I love Latinx.”
Much has been said about the diatribe surrounding the term. Between those who feel it’s a quirk and those of us who really need it, Latinx remains a way of self-determining identity.
For Leguizamo, Latinx is a way to move forward as a community.
“I know older people and some younger people don’t, but I feel it’s progressive [and] inclusive. I feel like it’s inclusive for women. It’s inclusive for LGBTQ+ people. I feel like it sounds like a superhero, like X-Men. I love the sound of it,” Leguizamo said.
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