queer literature

Ernesto Martínez, “The Femeniños Project: Literature and Visual Media for Queer Latino/x Youth”

March 7, 2019
3:30 pmto5:00 pm

Diamond Lake Room, Erb Memorial Union (EMU 119)

CLLAS Research Series Presentation

“The Femeniños Project: Literature and Visual Media for Queer Latino/x Youth.” 

Ernesto Javier Martínez, associate professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, will present his recent work with the Femeniños Project, a multi-genre storytelling initiative that brings together award-winning filmmakers, writers, illustrators, and musicians to help mitigate the severe underrepresentation of Latino/x youth in contemporary cultural production and to proactively challenge the harm inflicted upon queer youth of color when their humanity is distorted in the mainstream imagination. 

Ernesto Martinez

CLLAS awarded its first Latinx Studies seed grant (2018-19) for research or creative projects to Professor Martinez, for his proposal, “A Child Should Not Long for Its Own Image: Literature and Visual Media for Queer Latinx Youth.” The project included four components: (1) the production of the short film La Serenata; (2) the premier screening of the film at the University of Oregon, followed by a discussion with the director and fellow collaborators; (3) a community conversation about queer Latinx youth with teachers and parents in the Eugene/Springfield area; and (4) free distribution of the bilingual children’s book When We Love Someone, We Sing to Them to local schools, libraries, and community centers.

La Serenata is a film adaption of a children’s book that Martínez wrote, entitled When We Love Someone, We Sing to Them, published in 2018 by Reflections Press. “Both the screenplay and the book,” Martínez said, “tell the story of a Mexican-American boy who learns from his parents about serenatas and why demonstrating romantic affection proudly, publicly, and through song is such a treasured Mexican tradition. One day, the boy asks his parents if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy. The parents, surprised by the question and unsure of how to answer, must decide how to honor their son and how to reimagine a beloved tradition.”

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New children’s book, movie put a song in professor’s heart

Ernesto Martínez

Editor’s note: CLLAS is one of several UO units that awarded research funds to Prof. Ernesto Javier Martínez in support of this creative work. Martínez received the inaugural CLLAS Faculty Latinx Studies seed grant award.

A new book and film have a University of Oregon professor singing a happy tune.

December 10, 2018 (from Around the O)—Ernesto Javier Martínez, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the UO, is a scholar of queer ethnic literature and the author of “When We Love Someone We Sing to Them.” It’s a children’s book about a young Mexican-American boy who is learning from his musician father why serenading is such an important tradition in their family.

“The boy asks his father if there’s a song to sing for a boy who loves another boy, and the story follows their journey of finding a song and having the courage to express affection publicly,” Martinez said.

Martínez, who identifies as a queer Chicano Puerto Rican man, said he grew up singing in a trio with his father and brother, so from a very early age he understood the important role music played for Latinx immigrant families in sharing history, providing comfort and reinforcing community. 

“But very quickly I started to feel a little bit alienated from it because there weren’t songs for boys who loved boys, and at one point I even stopped singing,” Martínez said. He added that he felt a bit of trauma in being a part of a musical tradition that applauded his singing voice but remained uninterested in his queer experiences and desires.    › Continue reading

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CLLAS Common Reading Brunch with author Helena María Viramontes / Photos by Mike Bragg / Courtesy of the UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

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