Bruising For Besos
Violence has many permutations. Years later, as a young queer womyn I too experienced violence in a same-sex relationship. I remember feeling absolute shame and silence around the verbal, emotional and physical assault. The shame derived primarily from "knowing better," because, unlike my mother, I had an education... and I was a jota, right? This didn't happen amongst queers, especially womyn, right?
I found myself in a cycle too difficult to escape. I felt myself completeley alone in the experience. It was not until long after I had left the relationship that I realized how intimate partner violence (IPV) cuts across sexuality, class, gender, race/ethnicity, religion and nationality. It is a pressing human rights issue that still primarily affects womyn and children, although there are plenty of men who also suffer in silence. Some of these men have been relatives and friends (queer and nonqueer).
When I crafted the character, Yoli Villamontes, she became metaphor incarnate. Over 14 years ago I chose the name Yoli because it is also one of the Nahuatl derivatives of yolotl, which means heart. The Spanish surname of Villamontes means valley and hills--and it mirrors the emotional journey (pain and joy) of Bruising for Besos. This story is not crafted a "hero's journey," because Yoli cannot save anyone.
Or maybe she can? The film should be viewed in a communal context as it is meant to spark awareness and dialogue. Because when we "make familia from scratch," we must also examine the ingredients we bring to our recipes, especially if they've gone sour. Otherwise, we will surely poison all of our relationships, whether we mean to or not. Our hunger for/to love cannot be greater than our hunger to get well.
I/we follow the paths of those artists working in a similar vein--this is merely another offering: for the survivors, for the ones we've lost to silence and shame, and for the ones we hope to spare from the legacy of such cycles of abuse... you are not alone. We survive. We exist. We thrive... together. Tlazocamati.
Although this is not an autobiographical film-- as it was not an auto-drama in its solo play incarnation--this fictional work IS deeply rooted in the emotional truths I’ve experienced, be it as a child or later as a young queer womyn of color. I am a survivor of domestic violence (DV) and the other "isms" many of us experience at the intersections of our complex identities. I know what it is like to witness your mother beaten on a regular basis, and to experience the traumatizing fear of wondering whether "this time" she would be killed or not.