I’ve always found the definition of machismo to be ironic, considering that pride is a word almost unanimously associated with queer people, the enemy of machistas. In particular, effeminate queer men represent a simultaneous rejection and embrace of masculinity… In a culture that would prefer to erase us, queer Latinx men must find ways to hold onto pride for survival, but excessive male pride is often what we are battling, both in ourselves and in others.
Gomez’s memoir follows a hilarious, touching, spiralic path to embracing his identity as a gay man in a culture that values machismo—and the bath houses, nightclubs, and drag queens who proved that “there were people who wanted more from life than to simply feel safe.”
A debut memoir about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man in a culture of machismo, Gomez’s High-Risk Homosexual opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: his uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at twelve years old to become a man. The story then moves through the queer spaces where he learned the joy of being gay and Latinx, including Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual.”
With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself that he’d kept hidden. It’s a hilarious, beautiful reminder of the importance—in a world that is so often oppressive—of leaving space for joy.