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6.4: Jotería Frameworks and Scholarly Conversations

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    Jotería Identity and Consciousness

    Jotería studies encompasses various areas of study from a jotería lens. This section is a brief introduction to the various modes of thinking, disciplinary offshoots, movements, and intersecting conversions within the broad field of jotería studies. As a reminder, none of these are in an academic vacuum as they are interconnected to daily responses by jotería to multiple forms of dehumanization in the streets, in our homes, in our communities, and institutions. The concepts and ideas that spring forward are described earlier as theories in the flesh that come from lived experiences. From jotería consciousness to health and healing including spirituality, to higher education, to communications and sound studies, science, and the environment, jotería has been imagining new ways to understand the world, writing about it, creating art, and giving names to those processes. These are only a few examples of the way jotería consciousness has impacted different fields of study and branches of thought. We encourage readers to do further research to learn other areas where jotería is shifting ways of thinking. 

    Jotería is more than just a word. Jotería studies is more than just the study of queer and trans Chicanx and Latinx communities, although that is part of it. It is a way of knowing––what we call an epistemology, a sensibility, a politic. When we say jotería there is an implied notion of these radical tenets of social justice, not just about gender and sexuality, but rather an intersectional lens. Anita Revilla and Jose Manuel Santillana define jotería identity consciousness through eleven characteristics.38 According to the authors, jotería identity/consciousness:

    1. Is rooted in fun laughter and radical queer love.
    2. Is embedded in Mexican Latin American Indigenous ness and African diasporic past and present,
    3. Is derived from the terms Jota and Joto and has been reclaimed as an identity consciousness of empowerment,
    4. Is based on queer Latina/o Chicana/o and gender non-conforming realities or lived experiences,
    5. Is committed to multidimensional social justice and activism,
    6. Values gender and sexual fluidity and expressions,
    7. Values the exploration of identities individually and collectively.
    8. Rejects homophobia, heteronormativity, racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, gender discrimination, classism, colonization, citizenism, and any other form of subordination,
    9. Claims and is aligned with a feminist/muxerista pedagogy and praxis
    10.  Claims and immigrant and working-class background/ origin
    11.  Claims a queer Latina/o and Chicana/o ancestry, and
    12. Supports community members and family and their efforts to avoid and heal from multi dimensional battle fatigue.

    Jotería consciousness is a journey. Anita Tijerina Revilla and José Manuel Santillana’s essay on jotería consciousness was the first to provide a working definition of what this consciousness might look and feel like. Other scholars have built on their essay, which appeared in the Joteria Studies Dossier in 2014. For Tijerina Revilla

    Sergio Gonzalez, building on Anita Revillas’s work, applied this to his research on students in higher education.39

    Jotería Health and Healing

    As part of radical self-care, health and healing are important to jotería. Rooted in the intersectional perspectives discussed, health is understood through antiracist, decolonial, holistic, and ancestral lenses. Given the racist history of the medical industrial complex, eugenics movements, racist practices of sterilization, and the rampant homophobia of the inaction towards the AIDS crisis, jotería imagined alternative community-based ways to be healthy and heal, that don’t always mean resorting to mainstream medicine. Spirituality, reclamation of our bodies, holistic thinking about our bodies and healing, sex positivity, mental health, resisting fatphobic narratives are all important aspect of joteria health and healing.  In the book Voices from the Ancestors Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices, edited by Lara Medina and Marta Gonzales, the editors assemble a collection of songs, prayers, poems and essays that speak to how Chicanx and Latinx communities approach healing and sacredness. Several examples in the book are by jotería and demonstrate specific ways that we use everyday practices to heal. From example, Berenice Dimas, In my poem, “Un rezo pa’ los mariconxs,” I underscore the sacredness of our joteria communities, of my own body and the sacredness found within my queerness.

    Recognizing the spiritual, sacred, and ancestral within us is critical to jotería consciousness. While not everyone who identifies as jotería may consider themselves spiritual, this holistic thinking, the connection behind the body-mind-spirit matrix is central to jotería ways of knowing or epistemologies. Robert Gutierrez-Perez writes that “our spiritual practices as Jotería energy out of our deep and personal investigations into the very bodies and locations we inhabit.40

    Reclaiming the Body

    One way that this reclamation of the body has happened has been through art, for example, the art of Laura Aguilar. Like Aguilar, whose images of her nude body have inspired many, reconnecting with our bodies has been a way that jotería have engaged in healing and reclamation of their bodies. After the culmination of the 2018 AJAAS Board Retreat in Reno, Nevada, members of the executive board who attended in person planned a day at Lake Tahoe. They decided to hang out at a secluded part of the lake, a cove, that was known for nude bathing. While some of the members were shy about it at first, eventually they eased into it and had a great time. It was liberating to be in the water with people we loved and to rid ourselves of the stigmas placed on our bodies and existence, to reconnect with nature. This was our way of reconnecting with nature, being in unison with the local outdoors near Reno, and to be in community. Other organizations like Latino Outdoors and Wild Diversity aim to reclaim the outdoors for Latinx and other people of color. One of the swim guides for Wild Diversity states, “we reflected on the ways that water has affected our lives and our ancestors’ lives. Some participants spoke of how colonization has disconnected us from waterways as well as our ancestors.”41 These practices are part of healing journeys for jotería and other QTBIPOC but can also be considered to be part of jotería environmentalists as described in the next section.

    OJO: Within this consciousness sex-positivity is integral. Sex-positive approaches allow us to think beyond the socially constructed norms of what is considered normal, sinful, and appropriate behavior in terms of sexuality, masculinities, femininities, and desire. In a general sense, sex-positivity is about “having positive attitudes about sex and feeling comfortable with one’s own sexual identity and with the sexual behaviors of others.”42 Jotería artists, activists, scholars, and practitioners work to decolonize colonial, heteronormative, and demonizing views on sex and sexuality. Sex workers have taught us greatly about the intricate positions of power, sex, our bodies, and the need for bodily autonomy. Check out this episode on La Jotería Podcast for some fun, sex-positive stories. Another podcast that talks about putería is Latinxperts, the official podcast of the Latino Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin. In their episode on the changing dynamic of language and specifically on expletives or bad words,

    Jotería Environmentalisms

    Chicanx and Latinx folks have always been environmentalists even if they haven't always labeled themselves as such. The concerns of the Chicano activists during El Movimiento had environmental dimensions from farmworker rights to land sovereignty. These were depicted in the artwork of artists and writers Santa Barraza and Judy Baca. One example of Judy Baca’s work is the Great Wall of Los Angeles, which is monument of cultural pride for Chicanx peoples. A portion of this wall is displayed in Figure 6.4.1. The mural is on the wall of an empty concrete river. Above the mural are grass and trees and in the distance, fences and cars.

    Piece of a colorful mural by Chicana artist Judy Baca
    Figure 6.4.1:Great Wall of Los Angeles” by BillyBobJoe20, Wikimedia Commons is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0.

    Similarly, writers like Cherríe Moraga, Helena María Viramontes, and Gloria Anzaldúa have incorporated environmental questions in their writing. Many of these writers, however, do not associate with the mainstream environmental movement for its whiteness and elite perspective and focus on beautiful landscapes or outdoors at the expense of people and other organisms. For jotería, environmental issues are part of the intersectional struggle. Emerging scholars such as Stephanie Martinez, José Manuel Santillana, and Oscar Gutierrez are addressing these issues in their scholarship.

    These perspectives fit into what Maria DeGuzman refers to as "queer trans Latinx environmentalisms," which is about our relationship to the environment and a lens that looks at intersectionality from a queer, trans Latinx perspective and the environment. This can also be observed in cultural production such as zines. Jotería Cientifica Zine, for example, was created by graduate students Catalina Camacho and Chris Sandoval at the University of Texas A&M, as a way to fight back against racism in STEM fields but also as a

    stance against the popular conception of science as all-knowing, objective, or ethical. It is a resistance tool, a grassroots space for a theory and praxis of indigenizing science and medicine. It is a loud rejection of the scientific “progress” narrative, a myth that extends and excuses colonialism to oppress, blame and control us. We oppose science’s basis in colonial violence, genocide, and disenfranchisement. And we call out the mass land theft and fundamental disrespect for Indigenous sovereignty and culture, which so often manifests in scientific “research,” resource extraction, or so-called efficiency.43

    Jotería Pedagogies and Higher Education Interventions

    Higher education and jotería studies scholarship has flourished in recent times. Journal articles and special issues, presentations, panels, and social media conversations are addressing jotería studies recognizing the need to learn about jotería in their drive to be more equitable and serve students better. For example, in 2021, I delivered an invited talk on jotería and higher education for the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHEE). In 2020, José Aguilar Hernández, one of the founders of AJAAS, and Cindy Cruz edited a special issue on gender and sexuality in higher education in the Journal of Mexican American Educators. Many of the papers engaged with jotería studies in particular. This shift is evident in the work by Chicanx graduate students and early career scholars who are engaging with Jotería and publishing important work such as Roberto Orozco’s essay on jotería in higher education and epistemological shifts, Sergio Gonzalez’s research on jotería consciousness and college students, and Omi Salas-SantaCruz’s writings on trans Chicanx folks and the concept of terquedad as a strategy of resistance.44 Terquedad means stubbornness but in Salas-SantaCruz’s version of terquedad, inspired by her childhood memories of being terca, and by Anzaldua’s writing,  the stubbornness functions as a way to resist the violence of society’s imposition of binary gender ideologies. Terqueded is a survival strategy and is composed of  “creative acts in accordance with the worlds we may inhabit.”45  

    An important dialogue about joteria studies took place on social media, specifically on Twitter. Sergio Gonzalez, a member of the board of AJAAS, organized a Twitter conversation on Jotería studies in partnership with The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute at Rutgers University. This social media dialogue was fruitful and allowed folks to learn through this platform as well as engage in the topic. Another example of young scholars expanding the conversation in Joteria studies is Olga Estrada, a doctoral student at University of Texas, El Paso, who in 2022 presented their work on sucia theory and reclaiming joy in academia at National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) conference. Some of these publications and presentations are path-breaking because they have initiated conversations, brought visibility to jotería or called in homophobia and transphobia, and the erasure of jotería within higher education research.

    Jotería Language, Communications, and Media

    In his essay on shared authority, Horacio Roque Ramírez, writes, “What language do we use to remember things that, historically, are outside language?  How do we put into words experiences that are so meaningful or so painful that they can’t be spoken?” He is speaking about language in relation to memory and history. Speaking on language, Juan Sebastian Ferrada has written about linguistics and language from a jotería perspective. One outlet where language is experimented with is the media. Social media is one avenue where jotería are using media and communication to share ideas, build community, and create change. Robert Gutierrez-Perez and Luis Manuel Andrade have made interventions into the field of Communication studies by introducing jotería perspectives in the realm of communication studies. In his book, Joteria Communication Studies: Narrating Theories of Resistance  Gutierrez-Perez shares that jotería approaches to communications, like storytelling, chisme, testimonios, consejos, among others, function as alternative, “borderlands” communication modes forms of resistance.46 While in the past jotería activists like Pedro Zamora used his time on the Real World to send his message about the AIDS epidemic or Chicanx activists using newsletter or news media to send their message, social media has changed how messages and community building and activism happens. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic many jota/o/xs used social media and virtual meeting platforms like Zoom to bring people together such as the comedy shows curated by Cuban-American lesbain artist Marga Gomez, conversations of La Botanica Azul’s Adilia Elena Torres with healers on Facebook live, and the DJ Sizzle Cumbiatón on Instagram and Twitch events, Maya Chinchilla’s event with Central American poets and artists, and more. These events were generative and brought jotería together despite the isolation caused by the pandemic.


    38 Anita Tijerina Revilla and José Manuel Santillana, “Jotería Identity and Consciousness” Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies 39, no.1 (Spring 2014), 174-175.

    39 Sergio Gonzalez, Joteria Identity and Consciousness: Pláticas of Co-Creation with Undergraduate Queer Latinx Students,” (New Brunswick, 2021, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute), 2-12.

    40 Robert Gutierrez-Perez, Joteria Communication Studies: Narrating Theories of Resistance (New York: Peter Lang, 2021), 64.

    41 “Home,” Wild Diversity,  accessed November 12, 2022,

    42 “What Does Sex Positive Mean,” International Society for Sexual Medicine, accessed November 21, 2022,

    43 Jotería Cientifca, “Queer Scientists Decolonize the Field One Zine at a Time” Brokenpencil, January 8, 2021,

    44 Omi Salas-SantaCruz, “Terca, pero no pendeja:Terquedad as Theory and Praxis of Transformative Gestures in Higher Education,” Association of Mexican American Educators Journal 14, no. 2 (2020): 21-43.

    45 Salas-SantaCruz, “Terca pero no pendeja,” 32

    46 Robert Gutierrez-Perez, Joteria Communication Studies: Narrating Theories of Resistance (New York: Peter Lang, 2021), 70-71.

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