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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Vives Q relaunches with Gutierrez, Love
by Vern Hester

This article shared 897 times since Wed Aug 15, 2018
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On Aug. 7, the first installment of Vives Q for 2018 took place at the National Museum of Mexican Art. After taking a break during the winter months, the independent cultural arts project presented an evening of dialogue and discussion with special guests Jennicet Gutierrez and Eisha Love, with Vives Q co-founder Emmanuel Garcia as moderator.

After greeting the packed room, host Antonio Elizondo started the evening by introducing Tania Cordova, who spoke about growing up with her friend and community icon, the late Janet "Madrina" Namer. Elizondo then introduced Garcia who engaged the audience with an ice breaker segment to get them involved in the proceedings.

The first guest of the evening was Love, a trans woman who became a symbol of prison reform and trans activism when she was arrested for assault and, later, attempted murder in 2012. She was held in the maximum security male Division IX of the Cook County Jail for nearly four years without a trial.

Love spoke about spending her high school years being harassed while dealing with understanding her transgender issues while living in the rough neighborhood of Austin, on Chicago's West Side. In 2012, Love got into an altercation with a drug dealer who threatened and physically attacked her. She then got in her car to flee as several of the dealers accomplices closed in. In her attempts to flee she hit the dealer with her car. After turning herself in to police, Love was eventually charged with attempted murder regardless of the fact that she was acting in self-defense.

What followed was her incarceration in the male section of Cook County Jail, a series of meetings with public defenders, and no trial date being set. Eventually, outreach activist Channyn Parker visited her and began a petition drive to bring attention to Love's plight. After more than 9,000 supporters signed that petition as well as three years and nine months in jail, Love accepted a plea deal of guilty to a single felony count of aggravated battery on a public way and was released in 2015. ( More about Love's ordeal is online at . )

When Garcia asked how she dealt with the anger stemming from these incidents, Love said, "For me, I try not to relive the story but to continue my story. What [the system does] is use methods to keep you in prison. They're looking at you like you are guilty. I was in jail for four years without a trial. ... You're supposed to know something after 18 months.

"Living in the men's Division of Cook County was constant hell and non-stop harassment. The other prisoners would pick on me for no reason. ... They'd say, 'You think your a woman? ... You're not a woman.'"

Regarding her future, Love said, "I am using my story as a platform. ... There's a book coming out soon and we're working on a documentary."

The next guest was Gutierrez. a transgender activist from Mexico who gained national attention when she loudly interrupted former President Obama in the summer of 2015 during his White House speech in honor of Pride Month. Gutierrez shouted down audience members while addressing the plight of trans immigrant women.

After showing filmed footage of the White House confrontation, Garcia said, "When I see the video, hairs stand up on the back of my arms and I don't know how we can repay you for what you did."

Gutierrez spoke about the incident, stating that originally there were supposed to be two other activists who were to speak out with her but didn't show. While speaking about growing up and dealing with what she said was her internalized transphobia, Gutierrez said, "I don't think people realize the heaviness of xenophobia or transphobia or what we are dealing with." She also said regarding the immigration issue in this country, "This is all part of the ideology of white supremacy. How do we get to the point where we can dismantle white supremacy and the prison system?"

She also said, "Looking at just the plight of trans immigrants, its all really a lot bigger then that. This is about human-rights violations with these detention centers. Running these centers is a billion-dollar industry. ... Social media has shown the hypocrisy of the United States."

Sponsors and community partners included The National Museum of Mexican Art, Calor, DJ Cqqchifruit and Flux, with food from The Jibarito Stop. The next Vives Q is set for September. For more information, email .

This article shared 897 times since Wed Aug 15, 2018
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