Combative Kissing, Combative Twerking: Community and Affect in Puerto Rican Politics

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


From July 14 – 24 of 2019, the Puerto Rican people experienced a series of protests that came to be known as “The summer of ’19,” which culminated with the resignation of the island’s governor, Ricky Roselló. These demonstrations gathered citizens from all political spheres to show their disgust and disapproval of the comments made by the governor and his allies in a leaked Telegram chat group. In their conversations, known political figures made fun of Hurricane María victims and revealed corruption schemes, as well as exchanged fat shaming, racist, and homophobic remarks. The chat thus evidenced the political hypocrisy and legal precariousness surrounding the LGBTQ community on the island. It follows that the various ingenious ways of protesting included the “combative kissing” (grajeada combativa) and “combative twerking” (perreo combativo) demonstrations organized by the Puerto Rican Grupo de Trabajo de Género [Work on Gender Group] and Colectivo Cuir [Queer Collective], respectively.
The talk looked at the power of affect and sense of community in Puerto Rican politics through an analysis of these two demonstrations, positioning emotional ties and feelings of unity as the focus of these events, rather than attributes related to sexual identity or political ideology. Building on Rosamond King’s (2014) assertion that community often functions as an aspect more vital than sexuality itself in the construction of lesbian characters in Caribbean narratives, I propose that affective flows that began through a shared experience of insult and hurt transformed into a celebration of love through dancing and kissing that ultimately enabled connections key to the integration and support of the LGBTQ community within the island’s heteronormative national discourse.
Period25 Aug 2021
Event titleCanadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 2021 Congress
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational