By John Juarez

On the Margins of Sexuality

Credits: Sharon McCutcheon

The summer breeze was swiftly coming in through the open window as the sound of my mom’s miniature speaker played Selena’s “I Could Fall In Love With You.” Being in a Latino household, I was surrounded by many songs like these that made me believe in the cliche power of love. My concept of romance began when I was a kid and I watched the romantic scenes play out in the dramatic telenovelas my mother would play. I remember that in every single novela, love would prevail and there would be a great big wedding at the end of the show. These shows ended up fueling my idyllic concept of what romance should be. That was until I discovered the pinnacle of cinema: the traditional rom-com. My undying thirst for romance was satiated by over-simplistic plots and cliche endings.

Through my teenage years, I was still watching novelas and romantic comedies with glee. However, I began discovering more of who I was, particularly my gay sexual orientation. Then, I began to feel removed from the presentations of “perfect” love that I saw on screen. In actuality, I wasn’t being represented at all. I watched constantly as the guy got the girl and that was the end, their happily ever after. But for queer folk like me, the movies that were accessible to us were devoid of happy endings and positive relationships. Rather, they were plagued with negative stereotypes and sadness, and I would leave heaters with no hope for myself.

The media we consume has filled our concept of love with heternomative and lucrative expectations. We watch as our peers seem to complete the self-fulfilling prophecy of adolescent romance as shown on screen, and we mistakenly hold ourselves to the same standards. Movies and shows that are supposed to be our comfort space, actually reinforce the idea of inadequacy as gay teens compare their experiences to those of their heterosexual peers. But it will never be a fair comparison and that is why we are seeing more and more representation on screen. As the LGBTQ community becomes more accepted as a whole, they are rupturing the status-quo.