The Rio Grande Valley is the home to many great queer artist and writers. Here are just a few that you can go out of your way to learn more about and support during PRIDE month!
1. Noemi Martinez
Currently based out of Weslaco, Noemi Martinez has been writing zines in and about the Rio Grande Valley for almost 20 years. In 2000, she introduced the world to her zine Hermana Resist, which Martinez has described on her website as “a deeply personal and fiery exhalation of love, motherhood, disappointments and legacy.” In 2002, Martinez launched MujerFest, a festival that included workshops, presentations, performances, and classes. By the mid-2000s, she was a popular online presence in Valley circles on LiveJournal, where she regularly posted about various issues that affected the borderlands and with the Hermana Resist website. In 2016, Neta recognized her and her storytelling at the Reclama Awards event. Other zines of hers include Aged Noise, Homespun Zine: DIY, Making of a Chicana, MAIZ: Mujeres Activistas Insurgentes y Zineras, Finding Gloria: Nos/otras, and Citrus Dreams. You can buy her latest book South Texas Experience: Love Letters here.
2. Jamie Berrout
Originally from Brownsville but now based out of California, Jamie Berrout started writing poetry when she first went to college. Shortly thereafter, she released Postcard Poems, her first poetry book, and Otros Valles, her first novel, in 2014. Her releases since then include Incomplete Short Stories and Essays, Desire and the Scent of Guava, along with co-editing Nameless Woman: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color. She has also worked at translating the poetry of Venezuelan writer Esdras Parra. Last year, her book Portland Diary became the first book of literary short fiction ever published by a Latina trans woman in the U.S. You can support the work she is doing and see what she is currently working on here. To support the Trans Women Writers Collective, you can go to her Patreon that will fund a monthly booklet series by different trans women writers.
WAKE-UP! (Womxn Artistically Kollecting Experiencias-Unidxs Prosperando!) are a womxn poetry and performance collective that started at the then-named University of Texas–Pan American in 2013. The current line-up of WAKE-UP! includes people that are based from all across the Valley ― Verónica Solís, Daisy Salinas, Muriah Huerta, Karla Camila Gutierrez, Alejandra Catalina Camacho, and Aspen Basaldua. The collective uses their writing and performances to uplift the voices and lives of womxn of color. The group has performed in various spaces, from the university to conferences to fundraisers. They use their words to fight back against what they see as unjust in the world around us. WAKE-UP! is traveling to the MALCS (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social / Womxn Active in Letters and Social Change) Conference in El Paso, and you can help them get there by donating to their GoFundMe page or by buying their stickers here.
Originally from Holland, Michigan, Jesika Espiricueta has gone on to make the Valley her home since relocating here with her family many years ago. She gained a strong following on Tumblr in the earlier part of this decade, and her and her DIY style of singing and music has become a strong influence to many in the Valley, including members of the band Dezorah. Last year she performed a major benefit show for the South Texas Human Rights Center with Mitski and Helado Negro, who she later joined with to tour in Texas. If you want to listen to more of Jesika’s work, you can buy her album Lovelorn, HORA MÍSTICA, frizzy at her Bandcamp. You can also check out her awesome vintage clothes at Trash Brat Vintage.
5. Esther Martinez
Esther Martinez has been involved in the Valley music scene for years and has been a part of several bands. She is currently best known as the front person to the band Fantástico! As part of that group, she has played at major festivals like Galax Z Fair and AQUInceañera, as well as various benefit shows that have supported organizations like Aqui Estamos RGV, Fuerza del Valle Workers Center, and La Frontera Fund. Fantástico! will be returning to the stage and playing at the upcoming Pride in the Park at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, June 23, 2018. You can learn more about Martinez from her recent appearance on Jotxs y Recuerdos and can also check out and buy the Fantástico! album Where Dreams Go To Die (2016) on Bandcamp.
What queer artists and writers in the Rio Grande Valley are you supporting this month? Let us know in the comments!