It was 2004, and I was as hidden in my closet as my abuela’s jewelry.
At the time, there were few cultural references for a mixed-family Latina lesbian like me – besides the t.A.T.u. fiasco or the mediatic kiss of Madonna and Britney Spears – and Chavela Vargas, Frida Kahlo, or Gabriela Mistral were far from giving me any indication on how to navigate sexual diversity at the dawn of the 21st century.
In Latin America, being gay leads to family breakdown, abandonment, and physical abuse. And much of it is due to a lack of debate, representation and, obviously, education.
Even the best soap operas, although written by brilliant minds such as Leonardo Padrón, perpetuated the oxidized heteronormativity for decades.
There were simply no lesbians on the screen.
But then, Ilene Chaiken, Michele Abbot, and Kathy Greenberg gave us The L Word, a dramatic television series about a group of friends in West Hollywood living through all the stages on the lesbian and queer spectrum.
Let’s say it was the first Lesbopedia we had at hand.
Beyond the sex scenes that made the series so famous, what really mattered were the stories, backgrounds, and convoluted interconnections gestating around Alice’s charts.
Media culture has accustomed us to stereotyping homosexual relationships as emotionally dependent or extremely eroticized – just like any series with heterosexual protagonists – and often through the lens of acceptance rather than that of debate.
That’s why seeing the obstacles of traditionalist relationships like Bette and Tina’s or Jenny’s own questioning and personal hell were far more than what a small-town Latina could ever imagine.
Today, 15 years later, the urgency is the same, but the needs are different.
At a time when women have decided that Time’s Up, when the migration debate is at the epicenter of international politics, and when the double standard is increasingly fractured, the lesbian community needed a fresh story.
And, once again, the work of Chaiken fits like a glove.
The L Word has finally released its new season, The L Word: Generation Q, after months of social media flirting that had us on the edge of our seats.
For those of us who have always been skeptical of sequels, the first question was whether the writers would have the genius to contemporize the characters facing the world as we know it today.
Under the guidance of producer Marja-Lewis Ryan, The L Word team did not disappoint us.
Now we see a Bette struggling with a political career that echoes stories like that of Senator Kamala Harris, amid the profound struggle against the opioid crisis but from the trenches of a gay narrative.
The new season’s setting includes diverse family and professional realities. It even rethinks the lesbian stereotype coined by Ellen Degeneres in a renewed Alice.
Going a little further, and for those of us who fondly remember Carmen’s Latina character, the new cast from different ethnic backgrounds is perfectly interwoven, in the best way of today’s America.
For a 32-year-old lesbian woman like me, this new season of The L Word is once again the source of representation we needed: empowered, mixed women who struggle every day with adulthood, professional obstacles, and intimate moral debates.
As Bette says, they may not be perfect, but they have the perfect message.