BY CASSADY LÓPEZ
I believe it is a universal experience to want to find our kin. To discover ourselves with them and within them. At the prospect of finding safe spaces, and people to share those spaces with. I believe it is a universal experience to understand who we are. And to yearn for the feeling of euphoria, of the acceptance of one’s true self.
We are often confronted with the idea of who we are when the whole world is watching. Where do our identities lie when we feel so closely witnessed? Do we perform ourselves towards our truest natures? Do we allow ourselves to become molded into the most palatable version of being for the comfort of the collective?
Please allow me to ask, do you know who you are when the whole world is actively looking away? Choosing to diminish your existence. Pushing you towards the end of the list of priorities only to forget about you, even when you struggle, even when your ache is born from their indifference, even when you stand in front of the camera demanding that your voice be heard.
LA Queencianera (Peira, 2021) identifies these questions in Bamby Salcedo. A documentary that magnifies the lens towards the beauty and twinge of coming of age.Peira does a wonderful job at this by including us in the milestones that come later in life when we decide what we want the rest of the world to call us. The same name we have called ourselves our whole lives.
This piece allows us to encounter the multiple themes that we often see in our own lives, love, loss, the pursuit of the American dream, survival and much more. It encompasses the familiar feeling of the family dynamic. Bamby’s family dynamic. As we witness the metamorphosis of their protector, she becomes the shelter that fortifies lasting bonds.
Bamby Salcedo allows us to witness her authenticity as a latina, a trans woman, and an undocumented survivor. As a woman who began her transition at age thirty-five, Bamby follows up with her own version of coming of age, fifteen years later. This film does not owe you anything, it does not challenge or urge you to pick up the matches to help ignite the change. Instead, the film reveals who action calls for;only asking that you listen.
Bamby asks, “are you ready, girl?” She not only comes onto the stage in her most authentic self, she does it dressed up in red. She tells the audience she’s listening to Lady Gaga, ‘todo lo que da’, and I ask that we listen. We should give ourselves permission to empathize with her. As well as her ability to persevere through prosecution. We learn to thrive with our sisters, families (biological and found) to heal after abuse, and to step out of the way to give room for the bodies that are escorted out of the premises that we have unknowingly reserved.
Throughout the film we bear witness to the sister of many. As an older sister myself and as someone who’s had older sisters, I understand what it means to be protector and the protected. We appreciate women like Bamby, I appreciate the women in my life who have been the protectors. Dharma, Diane, Desiree, Katie, Stacy, Maria, Priscilla, all of them have cared to teach me how to grow into myself. Bamby, although I have never met her, was encouraging me to continue to prosper, the way the women in my life always have. Bamby teaches us what in this life we own, and what do we possess if not our own bodies, what do we possess if not our own choices, and what do we possess If not each other.
Cassady López is a poet, writer, film enthusiast, sister and friend. She has performed and competed from the final stage at the Los Angels Get Lit Classic Slam to the Brave New Voices Slam stages. She writes and highlights subjects such as family, latinidad, homelessness and disability. She was born and raised in the desert and hopes to continue writing and creating with in her community