Isolated at the farthest western tip of Texas is a desertic and mountainous gem. With over 500 miles between it and Austin, its closest major Texan city, El Paso, Texas, has become a flamboyant hybrid of the American Dream and Mexican culture. Two miles south of El Paso is Ciudad Juárez, one of the most populous cities in Mexico. The only dividing apparatuses between the two major cities are the Rio Grande and four international bridges of entry.
A soft shimmer flares from a single candle which compliments the profound brown hue of his pupils. Two pints of frothy beers arrive, instantly staining the white tablecloth with a wet rim as they are placed before us. The waitress is dressed in a crisp, black, neatly-tucked dress shirt, and a girthy, velvet tie. She relays that she will return to take our order.
I first heard Shakira in 1995 while accompanying my mother as she ran some errands. Sitting in the backseat of the car, I took interest in a song which began to play on the radio. The musical style of the song was familiar; similar to the songstress aesthetic of the 90's crafted by artists such as Joan Osborne, Alanis Morissette, and Jewel. However, the voice was not familiar whatsoever. What was more surprising is that she was singing in Spanish.
My parent's house in El Paso, Texas, the house I grew up in, is a few blocks away from the border between the United States and Mexico. From the rooftop of that house, you can see Ciudad Juárez. In particular, you can see El Monumento a la Mexicanidad, a now iconic monument dedicated to Mexican nationals often referred to as "La X." From many rooftops of the houses closest to the border and many other rooftops in the vicinity, the borderlines are blurred, juxtaposed with one another, but also merging into one, separated merely by rock, water, and metal.
As a young student, I learned about Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Harriet Tubman, and other great American activists and leaders, all of whose stories had an incredible impact on American history.
In 1970, the month of June was named National Pride Month, a year after the famous Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village located in New York City. The riots, which spanned over three days, saw the New York gay community resisting police discrimination and public humiliation. The 1969 riots sparked the inception of what came to be known as the LGBTQ Rights Movement and are some of the most prominent occurrences in the history of the national gay community and the struggle for public recognition and visibility.