Professor highlights sexuality of Mexican immigrants in talk

Mollie Cahillane, Reporter

A talk by a Northwestern professor on Wednesday touched upon two hotbed issues at once: immigration and sexuality.

Sociology and gender studies Prof. Hector Carrillo spoke at an event titled “Intersecting Identities: Race & Sexuality Among Mexican Gay Immigrants.” The lunchtime lecture at Searle Hall coincided with Hispanic Heritage Month and was hosted by the office of Multicultural Student Affairs as part of its larger Intellectual Networking within our Community lecture series. The lectures aim to “raise consciousness within the NU community around issues of race, culture, and politics,” according to the MSA department website.

About 35 people, a mixture of students and faculty, attended the event.

“It was really interesting,” Weinberg junior Jenna Stoehr said. “I’m taking two classes about race, but neither are very in-depth, and I hoped this would inform those classes. I also like learning about LGBT issues.”

Carrillo’s discussion focused on the struggles gay Latino men face and the reasons why many choose to emigrate from Mexico to the United States.

“I decided to study the phenomenon that I’ve called sexual migration,” Carrillo told The Daily on Tuesday. “There’s many reasons for it, but it all gets encapsulated in the general reason of seeking sexual freedom.”

Carrillo said many gay Mexican men choose to leave Mexico for the United States, particularly San Diego. Even though Mexico has grown increasingly accepting of LGBT rights, they immigrate because they fear their families might suffer from the stigma.

“No one would say, ‘Oh, you’re going to be queer there!’” Carrillo said, referring to the U.S. “It’s in search of a better economic life.”

Carrillo said he has observed Latino men facing the issue of being “racialized” when they arrive to the U.S., saying they have never before thought of themselves as Latino.

The MSA department approached Carrillo to speak about his work. MSA INC likes to have someone who researches Latino issues speak during Hispanic Heritage Month, Carrillo said. Because the LGBT Resource Center is now part of MSA, the department wanted to have a topic that would bring both groups together.

NU’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month will continue Friday with Sigma Lambda Gamma’s cultural crafts showcase at the Multicultural Center and Saturday with Festival LatiNU at Norris University Center. Both events are at 6 p.m.

In addition to teaching, Carrillo is a member of the governing board of NU’s Latina and Latino studies program. He won the Ruth Benedict Prize from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists in 2002 for his book, “The Night is Young: Sexuality in Mexico in the Time of AIDS.” Carrillo is currently working on a new book about sexual migration from Mexico.

Weinberg freshman Angel Ayon said the topics of the talk were applicable to her life.

“Being from California and having a best friend who is undocumented, immigration reform is important to me,” Ayon said. “Because I’m queer, I love hearing about new things happening in the community.”

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