Thursday, September 23, 2010

National Sexual Freedom Day

Today, September 23, is the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day. It is also the 144th anniversary of the Grito de Lares. There is so much irony in this day being held on the same day as Puerto Rico’s only attempt at independence.

When I think of a colonized body, how we put restrictions on what we, and other people can do with their own bodies, this, to me, speaks to the purpose of the Grito de Lares. I also think to the ideas of decency and what is proper, and how US presence shifted those ideologies in Puerto Rico and scholar Eileen J. Suárez Findlay writes about in her book Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920. Findlay discusses how Whiteness was/is valued and connected to ideas of decency and respectability in a gendered and elitist way.

For me there is very little sexual freedom that can be experienced from a space that is still rooted in a colonial legacy. How can I find freedom if the homeland that I want to be a part of is not sovereign? I cannot “go back to where I came from” because the US will not give up our homeland. Wherever I go, the mainland of Puerto Rico or the US, there is no escaping the cultural imperialism that has been a part of the history, which I’ve inherited.

What does sexual freedom mean to me? It means the same thing when I think of what Puerto Rico libre means to me:
• Having a home to go to.
• Having a home that is safe for everyone.
• Self-determination.
• Affirmation of identity and rituals.
• An end to oppressions.
• Freedom to be and identify as anything other than racially White and not be criminalized or targeted.
• Dedication to communication, listening, and speaking.
• Supporting families in whatever form they are.
• Reshifting our ideas on poverty and attempting to eliminate it.

I don’t only hope for these things for Puerto Rico, I hope them for all of us. Sexual freedom is complex and interdisciplinary. There is no way for me to discuss sexual freedom without recognizing all that makes the ideas of freedom a challenge and struggle, yet one that many of us have dedicated our lives to.

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