On October 3rd, 2019, the Stone Center hosted a conversation with acclaimed writer, film critic, and bookseller Luis Negrón as part of our ongoing Latin American Writers Series (LAWS). This interview with Ecuadorian writer and Tulane Visiting Scholar Gabriela Aleman, held in Spanish, explores his interests and influences, and the ways in which his life experiences as a gay man from Puerto Rico have shaped his literary projects. A recording of this event is available to view as part of the Stone Center’s LAWS digital archive. We hope that many of you can take advantage of these videos as teaching and research resources—or as an educational source of diversion—during these times of social distancing.
Negrón’s discussion weaves through many of his works, beginning with an Op-ed he wrote for the New York Times in October 2012. Asked to write on the subject of homophobia in Puerto Rico, he chose to respond to the topic through a personal narrative entitled “The Pain of Reading”. In this piece, he interlinks themes of stigma against homosexuality, familial instability, and love of literature through relating a childhood memory of deep shame and hurt.
Speaking on “sexilio”—a common phenomenon amongst gay and lesbian Puerto Ricans choosing to move to New York or other socially liberal cities in order to escape oppression due to their sexuality—Negrón recounts leaving for Boston after coming out of the closet at age 23. Over the course of three years he became involved in volunteer efforts to support individuals with AIDS and developed friendships with many gay activists. Upon returning to Puerto Rico, he worked to build community and visibility around homosexuality via the arts and literature. Out of this work, he conceived of a project to collect poetry, short stories, and essays, leading to the publication of Los otros cuerpos: antologia de tematica gay, lesbica, y queer desde Puerto Rico y su diaspora in 2007.
Turning to Mundo cruel —a collection of short stories published in Spanish in 2010 and later printed in an English translation that won the 2014 Lambda Literary Award—Negrón elaborates on his interest not only in figures at the margins of society, but also in creative expression that lies outside of “Culture with a capital C.” He also answers questions about his involvement in theatrical adaptations of his works, including a musical production his short story “El jardín” from the Mundo cruel collection.
About the Latin American Writers Series
This series brings together Latin America’s most representative creative voices and the editorial entrepreneurs that publish them. By way of interviews conducted by renowned Ecuadorian writer Gabriela Alemán and presentations of various editorial missions, the guests will shed light on a literary world shaped by the contemporary issues of the continent. Moving forward, their conversations will comprise the centerpiece of a digital archive that introduces their ideas to a global audience.
Este serie reúne a los autores más representativos de la escritura continental y los editores que los publican. A través de entrevistas con la reconocida escritora ecuatoriana Gabriela Alemán y presentaciones de proyectos editoriales, los invitados explorarán los vínculos entre el mundo literario y la realidad continental. Sus conversaciones se convertirán después en el eje de un archivo digital que busca llevar estas ideas a un público global.