Why Has the Latino Literary World Ignored John Rechy?

Fifty years after the publication of his best-selling first novel, City of Night, author John Rechy recalls an early struggle being an out gay man, a Chicano writer and a subversive new voice in fiction.
“For years, people didn’t consider me a Mexican-American,” John Rechy told the New York Times. “A couple of Chicano writers got annoyed and angry for me claiming to be Mexican-American. It’s been more difficult for me to come out as a Mexican-American than come out as gay.”

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John Rechy was born to poor Mexican parents in the border town of El Paso. His first book, City of Night, is somewhat autobiographical, about a young Mexican-American man’s journey from Texas to the gay underworlds of New York, Hollywood and New Orleans.

In the same NYT article, gay Chicano writer Benjamin Alire Sáenz is quoted as saying that City of Night is “one of the finest literary works ever written.” He goes on to resent the fact that John Rechy has been prominently excluded from the Latino and Chicano literature realm.

“It saddens me to think that it is rarely taught and mentioned in the Latino literary canon, which only goes to show how homophobic the literary establishment has been.”

Read “A First Gay Novel, a Poor Latino Boyhood and the Confluence.

Featured PhotoRobin Roecker

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