The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About

The original cover of Carlo Trujillo’s anthology “ Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About features La Ofrenda, from the National Chicano Screenprint Taller by Ester Hernandez, 1990.

The cover of Trujillo’s anthology Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About is adorned by Ester Hernandez’ La Ofrenda. It depicts a subtle show of intimacy between two women, a romantic rose offered to a tattoo of the Virgin de Guadalupe on a woman’s back. It unites both queer imagery with Chicana cultural icons to illustrate the overlap between communities. The Virgin de Guadalupe, known in English as the Virgin Mary, holds immense significance to the Chicana/o/x community to the extent where it has become a national symbol of Mexico. She is hailed as the religious deity whose apparition reconciled the Spanish and Indigenous people in the 19th century for the creation of one Mexico under Catholicism. She has also been used as a political symbol in the Mexican revolt against the Spanish by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (Virgen de Guadalupe 1). Her image possesses a great magnitude within Mexican culture as a virtuous holy woman. Her portrait as a tattoo on the back of a woman who presents as a butch dyke is a tangible clash of Chicano and lesbian culture. The height of Mexican female expectation represented through the Virgin Mary juxtaposed with lesbianism speaks strongly to women with a foot in both worlds. Chicano culture tarnished by homophobia is unable to hold space for the existence of these women, and the conceptions of lesbianism as white only also do not allow for their presence. The presentation of this dichotomy as a place of intimacy is revolutionary for our conceptions of Chicana lesbians. The presence of Virgen de Guadalupe honors Chicana culture while holding space for criticisms of its homophobia. It also shows the existence of Chicana women within lesbian culture, and demonstrates that their cultural identities do not have to be sacrificed to actualize their queerness. The simple act of a rose extended as an offering of love humanizes the sometimes polarizing cultural divide between lesbianism and Chicano culture.

Trujillo, Carla, and Ester Hernandez. “Cover, La Ofrenda.” Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Third Woman Press, Berkeley, 1994.

“Virgen De Guadalupe.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

Defining the New Age of Chicanas

Artwork by Enriqueta Longauex y Vasquez featured in It Ain’t Me Babe, 1975.

The rise of political consciousness is present in “La Nueva Chicana” by Ana Montez. Published in the periodical, The Chicago Women’s Liberation Union in 1975, it calls for unity within la raza, meaning the people. The poem begins by describing the young Chicana as a bareheaded girl, rejecting traditional markers of femininity in favor of a shaved head, emblematic of her transition from a meek constructed femininity to La Nueva Mujer, meaning The New Woman. This is a reference to the idea of a new feminist ideal that was popularized in the late 19th century amidst first wave feminism, and who was known for actively resisting traditional norms and forging her own path towards equality (Stevens 27). The use of The New Woman also rebukes machismo, which is the presence of an exaggerated and restrictive masculinity present in Chicano culture. La Nueva Chicana is becoming The New Woman in two senses: by identifying with a historical feminist culture that had not always been accessible to their community, and by rejecting critiques by Chicano men that feminism violates the traditional expectations of Chicana women. Montes makes a concerted effort to connect with the canon of the first wave feminist movement, as well as the illustrate the unique oppressive struggles Chicana women faced within their community. Doing so grounds La Nueva Chicana’s passion as legitimate yet eager to embark on forging partnerships in the name of equality. The poem goes on to define the strategy of La Nueva Chicana, which is one of unity and collaboration. Montes illustrates, “You do yours and I’ll do mine/ is not her bag/ it’s let’s do it together /JUNTOS VENCEREMOS” (5-8). Juntos Vencermos means succeeding together, and demonstrates the goals of the Chicana feminist faction to resist fragmentation in the name of distinct coalitions. Montes then highlights the unique strengths of the new Chicana, and how her duality positions her to be a catalyst for social change in both the feminist and Chicano movements. Her softness is the compassion and empathy that fuels her desire to help, which is juxtaposed with the depiction of her as the “mightiest weapon”. Her strength and the capacity to make an impact is integral to the essence of the new Chicana. Her courage to be a frontline contributor to the goals of the movement can be seen in the, “ emerged from the shadows/ she’s out in font.”. Montes’ reference to the Chicana women as emerging from the shadows speaks to their long-waited ascent into a political consciousness that could be funneled into activism and liberation from machismo. Th poem concludes by lauding her newfound empowerment and recognizing its potency for change,

                                                “VIVA LA RAZA

                                                 Is her battle cry

                                                 She is no longer the silent one

                                                 She has cast off the shawl of the past

                                                 To show her face

                                                 She is LA NUEVA CHICANA”

(Montes 21-25). The last stanza evokes a poignant image of the coming together of La Nueva Chicana, who has cast off the stereotypes that adorn her as passive and weak. This is a rejection of the patriarchal Chicano culture and American culture. The shawl, a traditional item of clothing for Mexican women represents the chains her culture bestows upon her as a result of her gender. It establishes the reveal of the Chicana’s true face as the future of the Chicano movement, and how her social action will define the next era of Latinx women. The poem is not disparaging or angry, but rather a clear acknowledgement of the struggles the Chicana has faced to gain this level of liberation. It is a commendation of their ability to preserve and then choose to dedicate their energy to both the Chicano and feminist movements.

Longauex y Vasquez, Enriqueta. “La Chicana, It Ain’t Me Babe.” 15 Jan. 1975.

Montes, Ana. “La Nueva Chicana, Chicago Women’s Liberation Union.” 1 Aug. 1975.

​​Stevens, Hugh (2008). Henry James and Sexuality.Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780521089852.

Wrestling with Identities: Experiences of a Chicana Lesbian

Veronica Cunningham’s representation of the queer Latinx community in her poem  “Ever Since” is integral to challenging perceptions of both queerness and Latinx by defining a space for its existence as an intersection, as it is often relegated to obscurity. Depicting Chicana queerness is transformative for Chicana and queer youth alike, as it allows for the construction of a queer future that is open to Chicana women. Queer stories challenge machismo in a unique way, as they help dismantle aspects of it depending on its portrayal of Latinos or Latinas. The depiction of a queer Latina rejects a heterosexual Latinx masculinity, and instead finds power in a Latinx culture that is not founded on the oppression of women. This can be seen in the lines “ you don’t have/ to tell anyone/ you’re a lesbian” which depicts the shame that is associated with female queerness not only in Chicana culture but also American. There is a juxtaposition between the shame affiliated with lesbianism and the praise she receives for not appearing visually Chicana. Cunningham depicts the opinions she is inundated with, “ you’re lucky/you don’t look Mexican” (19-20, 25-27). She is lauded for identities that align most closely with white heterosexual standards, and is told to suppress any identity that distances her from this standard. Cunningham states,

Lines 28-44 of Veronica Cunningham’s “Ever Since”.

She articulates the Chicana lesbian struggle by illustrating how significant one’s identities are to maintaining a sense of self, and how existing in a world that rejects those identities is so devastating. Her refusal to submit to white heteronormative ideals is transformative in that she is proud of her existence and would not choose to live without it. To love oneself in a world that deems your existence an abomination is a radical act. Her declaration of self-love in both her identities, lesbian and Chicana, defies the expectations of shame that society projects upon them.

Cunningham, Veronica. “Ever Since.” Capirotada (Spring 1977), pp. 30-35.

Queer Love and Pain: Navigating Chicana Relationships


Featured in Carla Trujillos’ anthology, “If” exemplifies the pinnacle of brown queer love.

Brown queer love must be represented to demonstrate that assimilation is not necessary to actualize queerness, in the same way that repression of one’s queerness is not required to claim one’s Latinx identity. Cherríe Moraga’s poem “If” depoliticizes lesbian love and sex by depicting the tenderness and humanity in her own relationship. The line,” wipe the other’s mouth/ dry from the kiss pressed there” incorporates sensuality opposed to a fetishized lesbian eroticism. Queer Latina stories dismantle machismo by refusing to acquiesce into structures that require their subordination for community advancement. By presenting her relationship with the lines, “we will have done enough” in reference to simply existing together, Moraga simplifies discourse of the necessity of men through the medium of love. To love a woman freely and openly is to resist Chicano narratives of being a traditional housewife to a man. To free oneself from machismo is not to reject one’s culture but to reject one’s oppression, and queer Chicanas are manifestations of this separation. Moraga also resists conceptions of queer romance as a phase through lines such as , If in the long run/ we weep together/ hold each other.” This prevents the limitation of women’s ability to imagine queer futures because it does not relegate lesbianism to fleeting youth. This allows for the extension of female queerness into adulthood, and establishes the Chicana lesbian as a whole and valid identity within both Chicana/o/x and feminist culture. . Moraga does not denigrate her  culture, and opens space for lesbianism within the Chicana community without isolating either group. Her truthful recounting of a love story is so purely human that it strikes to the heart of lesbianism, which is the ability of non-men to love other non-men freely. Reconciling queerness and the Latinx community from two separate spheres into a singular existence through poetry improves the intersectionality of both the queer and Latinx community by simultaneously challenging racism and homophobia.

Amor, Karen T. Delgadillo, pastel, featured in Carla Trujillo’s anthology.

“voz en una cárcel” by Juanita M. Sanchez depicts an alternate experience of struggling to feel safe within queer spaces and her own relationship due to discrimination and cultural differences. The poem raises the question if love is enough to bridge the gap between two women from differing backgrounds. Sanchez compares her longing for acceptance with her internal discomfort at feeling belittled by a white partner. The lines “we instituted  language means nothing/ as long as we have each other to love/ you laughed at my accent/ maybe,/maybe just one too many times.” It personalizes the split between the two communities by trying to reconcile Sanchez’s yearning for affection from her partner with the feeling that she is perceived as inferior due to her being Chicana. Insecurity also manifests in the lines, “ i never know/ am i being too spanish or not enough english?”. The white partner comes to represent the lesbian community, and that her Chicana identity excludes her from not just individual love from her partner, but the acceptance of the lesbian community. The physiological effects of constantly altering one’s cultural presentation for the comfort of their partner symbolizes the themes of Chicano and lesbian culture being the antithesis to each other. This conflict is represented in Sanchez’ internal battle for one identity to be more dominant than the other. The idea that holding Chicana and lesbian identities in tandem is impossible without sacrifice on a certain level is simultaneously a central struggle felt by Chicana lesbians and something they fight to dispel through their existence. In order to carve out a space with queer communities as woman of color confidently, ins cuties about race arise in personal ways that reveal the work that  needs to be done to normalize brown queerness.

Trujillo, Carla, and Cherríe Moraga. “If”, Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Third Woman Press, Berkeley, 1994.

Trujillo, Carla, and Juanita M. Sanchez. “voz en un cárcel”, Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Third Woman Press, Berkeley, 1994.

Trujillo, Carla, and Karen T. Delgadillo. “Amor”, Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Third Woman Press, Berkeley, 1994.

Theory Development: Chicana Lesbian Nationalism

Published in Lesbian Connection in 1978, Chicana Lesbian Nationalism by Margarita represents the growth of a purely Chicana lesbian body of theory that explicitly defined their wants and needs as a community. The piece identifies one of the main challenges facing Latina lesbians is that following rejection from La Raza due to homophobia, the racism they endure from the white lesbian community is too much to bear. It also focuses on logistical challenges Chicana women face in order to come out, such as being trapped within a machismo nuclear family structure, and being financially dependent on such structure. It then makes significant strides to set a standardized way to conduct communication within the Lesbian community, specifically to stress your identity as a Chicana lesbian within those spaces. This distinction functioned to connect through a shared sexuality while honoring their differences as Chicanas. The piece ends with a call to action to facilitate the formation of LesbiaAztlan, referencing Aztlan, the mythical homeland of the Aztecs that has come to represent a Mexican power that has not been diluted by whiteness and colonization. It speaks of their mobilization to record their history, aligning with the rise in political consciousness not only in Chicana lesbians but all Chicana women.

Gloria Anzaldua

Cherrie Moraga, photographed by Jean Weisinger.

This piece demonstrates the lengths and care that Chicana lesbians invested in their degree of connection to their identities and passion towards their communities. The work of revolutionary Chicana lesbians, especially Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, was indispensable to the broadening of queer futures for all women of color.

Their work served as a catalyst to represent all the pain accompanied by living with a foot in both worlds, and being unwilling to lose either limb. The activism and theory they created inspired the continuation of a distinct documented Chicana lesbian experience endures to pay homage to these women and those that succeed them.




“Photograph.” Cherrie Moraga,

Romero, Josue, and Josue Romero. “Gloria Anzaldúa Photograph.” Study Breaks, 31 Jan. 2019,

Sojourner, et al. “Chicana Lesbian Nationalism.” Lesbian Connection, vol. 4, no. 5, Ambitious Amazons, Dec. 1978, pp. 1–38,

Chicana Lesbians: A Foot in Both Worlds

In her introduction to her 1981 anthology, This Bridge Called My Back., Cherríe Moraga declares, “I am a woman with a foot in both worlds; and I refuse the split. I feel the necessity for dialogue. Sometimes I feel it urgently”. The Chicana lesbian exists in the intersection between Chicana/o/x and feminist communities. The focus of my project is to highlight the experiences of young Chicana lesbians and depict their struggle against constant erasure in both movements. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a new generation of young Chicana lesbians whose collective political consciousness manifested itself through the development of radical theory and poetry. Their unique positionality allows one to explore the racism and homophobia within the feminist movement and the patriarchy and homophobia in the Chicana/a/x movement. By examining works from revolutionary Chicana lesbians, such as Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, my project aims to honor the struggles these women endured within the feminist and Chicano/a/ communities and how their lived experience remains impactful today.

– Isabel Carmona

The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About

Defining the New Age of Chicanas

Wrestling with Identities: Experiences of a Chicana Lesbian

Queer Love and Pain: Navigating Chicana Relationships

Theory Development: Chicana Lesbian Nationalism