‘Escondidos No More’ is a new exhibit highlighting the Latinx queer community in Toronto. The exhibit is being put on by Myseum:Intersections as part of its Arrivals+Departures exhibition. It runs from March 8, 2018 to March 30, 2018 at The 519. It will also feature a gala and drag show performance on March 24, 2018 at 8pm at The 519. We recently interviewed Rico Rodriguez, contributor to the exhibit, about his work as a storyteller and maker in the queer Latinx community.
Mr. Rodriguez has been living in Toronto for nearly 40 years. Originally from Peru, he has been busy documenting stories, both his own and of his friends, about the queer Latinx community in the city.
In 1997, Mr. Rodriguez founded Queers in your Ears, a storytelling collective that performs annually at the Storytelling Festival of Toronto. The group arose out of a conversation with a friend at a comedy festival, and a conviction that his stories and the stories of other Latinx people deserve to be told. It’s clear that these stories have resonated outside of Mr. Rodriguez’ community, as well; he has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for his oral storytelling.
When he learned that Myseum:Intersections’ theme this year was going to be ‘Arrivals+Departures,’ he knew it would be a perfect fit for the stories he has been telling.
“We’re a community that has arrived,” said Mr. Rodriguez, referencing the Latin diaspora in Toronto, “and now we’re departing.” Mr. Rodriguez is part of a generation of queer Latinx people in Toronto whose stories he feels it is important to pass down to newer ones. He has noticed that newer members of his community don’t know about their own history, and he wants to use his storytelling as a bridge to connect them to their heritage.
“We need to leave a legacy,” he insisted, “We need to…leave something so that our history is not invisible, because if our history is invisible then we run the risk of becoming invisible as a community. We’re not. We’re very visible, we’re very colourful.”
As for his exhibit, Mr. Rodriguez wants to let the pictures speak for themselves. But he wants to craft the timeline of photos to end on a positive, forward-looking note.
Because, as he said, “we’re not by any means finished.”