The Identity Formation Process of the Modern Day Chcano Male "Jota"
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This paper investigates the process of identity formation amongst Queer Chicano/Mexican-American, i.e. male "jotas", from the Los Angeles area. Some of the questions this paper examines are: How does the modern day Queer Chicano see his hybrid identity, portrayals of Queer men, and how does he maneuver in the 21st century? Being that the literature at hand dominantly speaks to the clash between the Mexican community and the LGBT community as separate, where sexuality or race/ethnicity are suppressed by each other, either by internalized racism or homophobia, how docs the lived experience of the modern day jota develop? In order to conceptualize and capture the narrative of their lived experience, I surveyed and conducted a total of 15 in-depth interviews with Queer Chicano/Mexican-American men between the ages of 18-26. Through the use of social media outlets i.e. Facebook, a sample population was obtained to survey and interview. The survey asked participants to self-identify their gender and sexual performance in a scale from high masculine to high feminine. They were also asked to self-identify their own sexual identity (-ies). Ultimately, participants were asked to fill and arrange communities they identified with from least strongly to most strongly. By allowing participants to fill in the communities they strongly identified with, they were able to position themselves within larger LGBTQ and racial/ethnic communities. Through the interviews, the language and the voices of these men are captured. In using open-ended survey questions and interviews, -this project was able to capture the jargon used by the participants. Through narrative analysis, I argue that jotas challenge gender, racial, and ethnic, norms and stereotypes by creating a new hybrid identity. Individually, that identity is formed on the basis of jotas' understanding of existing gender, sexual, and racial/ethnic categories. Collectively, their identity is molded through a process in which participants create a Joteria support group for queer people of color. I conclude that the contemporary jota identity transcends normative ideas of masculinity and femininity. Hence, studying and giving voice to Jotas and other queer people of color challenges the image of the gay community as white and middle class and builds the foundation for a comprehensive intersectional understanding of LGBTQ identities.