This article has one, and one purpose only. To help as many people as possible to know more about Chavela Vargas. If you have never heard about her before, please read on, because that’s something that needs to be fixed right away.
I finally got around to watch the documentary of her life on Netflix this past weekend. I’ve known about it for a long time now, over a year probably. But I knew the day I decided to watch it I needed to be on a mindset that allowed me to focus entirely on it. This wasn’t something I could half-watch while scrolling on my phone. No. the glorious, iconic, Chavela Vargas deserved my undivided attention.
As someone said near the end of the documentary, “Every lesbian in Mexico knows who Chavela Vargas is.” Well, I believe every lesbian or Sapphic woman in the world should know about Chavela Vargas. She broke barriers, both with her music and with her life. Sharing her voice, and trough it her pain with the world to the last day.
I debated about posting this; it feels banal in a way to share this story when there are so many other things happening. When our lives, everyone’s lives are being affected so much by Covid-19. At the end of the day, the best therapy is to talk, to share, to remember that we all are in this together.
I started writing this over a week ago when the worst thing that had happened to me personally because of Covid was deciding to cancel an upcoming trip to the United States to see my Fiancée. Back then my government, Colombia, hadn’t taken strong measures against the virus, and the United States, where my fiancée lives, was still in full denial mode.
Still, we decided it was better to not risk international travel at that moment, both for fear of being part of spreading the virus and because of the politics of travel, changing so fast all over the world making the possibility of getting stranded on an airport increase each day.
At the moment, I planned on this post to be something light about how to manage long-distance dating, how my fiancée and I have been managing it for almost seven years. A reflection on how it can be hard but also highly rewarding and depending on your personality even preferred.
I was going to tell you cute anecdotes about our time together. Like how I couldn’t find the exit door from the Miami Airport on my first trip there, I had no internet to contact my fiancée and at 2:00 a.m. I just sat on the floor outside of the gate I had landed at until she finally stopped driving around on her rental car waiting for me to go out, parked and came inside to find me.
We discovered then that Colombians and Americans have different definitions of picking someone at the airport. Colombians park, sit inside, often with flowers and balloons to welcome people, and are the first thing you see when crossing the door.
Since I can remember I’ve always said, to anyone who wants to hear me, that I don’t want to marry and will never have kids. I never questioned it. Why would I question something that felt like an unavoidable truth for me?
It wasn’t until I got engaged, and started planning a wedding, that I realized how much I did want all the things I had sworn time after time I didn’t. The white dress (well, it’s more a pantsuit with a cape. I’m still a tomboy lesbian), the huge reception, the awkward speeches, the religious ceremony. The uncles getting drunk and embarrassing themselves on the dance floor. Fights about who to cut from the invite list, and resigning yourself to overpaying because everybody would get mad if you don’t let your cousins take a +1.
I would look up venues, card designs, dresses. And get more and more excited. It was then that I had to question myself. Did I really never want a wedding or did I trick myself into not wanting one because I’m gay? I know my mom won’t jump with happiness when I tell her I’m getting married. I know she will go, she has always supported me to the best of her limited ability. But I also know she would pass out at the prospect of inviting any of my uncles and aunts, my distant cousins or my grandmother. “What will people say?” “Keep your private life private, nobody needs to know your business.”
Did I never dream about a catholic wedding before because I didn’t want to get married; even though I’m a devoted Catholic as most Latinos are. Even though I wear a gold cross necklace every day, a San Benito (Saint Benoit) medal bracelet in my left wrist and still pray every single night before going to bed. Or was it because I know I can’t have it, even if I wanted to.Read More »