"Amigas y amantes": How first and second generation Latinas negotiate family, partnerships, and community in the United States

Date of Completion

January 2009


Women's Studies|Hispanic American Studies




This research is a qualitative study that looks at the experiences of migrant and second generation Latinas who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer. It is an exploration into the daily lives of a predominately ignored group whose narratives not only provide insight into gender and sexual relations in Latina/o cultures but also to the intersections of Latina's experiences in the dominant culture. This work is based on 40 in-depth interviews with lesbian, bisexual, and queer Latinas in addition to 14 months of participant observation at Latina/o LGBT events in Connecticut and New York City. In this work, I highlight how racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia affect the partnerships Latinas form in the United States, the relationships they maintain with their families of origin, and the identities they come to adopt in this country. As migrants, native Spanish speakers, and often members of the working poor, many of these women struggle with power imbalances in their relationships. Furthermore, the bicultural nature of some of these relationships can lead to language barriers, different cultural beliefs, and familial alienation. In this work, I not only make a contribution to sexuality, gender, and immigration studies but I also add to the scholarship on racialization in the United States as I emphasize the divisions which occur within Latina/o communities on account of nationality, class and immigrant status. This study builds on our understanding of the relationship between immigration, racialization and sexualities studies. ^