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The Early Latinx Camp Aesthetics of Pedro Caballero's Paca Antillana (1931).

In May 1934, Pedro Caballero, a Puerto Rican writer and Spanish-language teacher in New York City, was appointed the new managing editor at Artes y Letras (1933-1939) (Silva de Cintron 1934, 1). The New York Spanish-language journal was initially conceived as a bulletin for the Circulo Cultural Cervantes, a theater group dedicated to staging Hispanic performances in New York City, but quickly grew into a broader literary forum that kept its readership abreast of the cultural life of Spanish-speaking New York. (1) Among the journal's early supporters and frequent contributors was another Pedro, the Puerto Rican author Pedro Labarthe, who had directed the Circulo Cultural Cervantes. Both Pedros--Labarthe and Caballero--distinguished themselves in the Hispanic middle-class community of early twentieth-century New York, writing for Artes y Letras, supporting local cultural endeavors, vocally championing Pan-Americanist ideals, and teaching Spanish in the city. Pedro Labarthe is now primarily remembered as the author of Son of Two Nations, a semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman published in New York in 1931, which has the distinction of being one of the first novelistic accounts of Puerto Rican migration to New York City. Mostly forgotten, however, is the fact that that same year, the other Pedro--Pedro Caballero--also published in New York his first novel, Paca Antillana: novela pedagogica puertorriquena, which likewise thematizes migration to the metropolis.

Like Son of Two Nations, Paca Antillana presents an example of autobiographical fiction. (2) Paca Antillana charts the professional and romantic travails of "la negrita" Paca Antillana. Born in rural Puerto Rico, poor and black, Paca migrates to New York where she becomes a celebrated jazz star. The narration of her journey is interspersed with an account of the life and travels of her early school teacher, Rozafel Mirabela, whose point of view deeply colors the omniscient third-person narration and who functions as a stand-in for the author. Rozafel's narrative closely adheres to Pedro Caballero's own life story and many of the views and impressions attributed in the novel to Rozafel are expressed by Caballero in his columns and editorials for Artes y Letras. Moreover, in his introduction to Paca Antillana, Caballero informs us that the novel was written during his many travels, which were also documented in the pages of Artes y Letras. The novel renders as fiction Caballero's autobiographical travel experiences by way of transcriptions from Rozafel's purported travel journal and diary. (3) Further blurring the lines between author and character, fiction and nonfiction, the character Rozafel becomes a novelist whose own novel mirrors the gestation of Paca Antillana: "No quiso Rozafel dar rienda suelta a sus fantasias para que su obra resultase natural y sincera. Tan natural le quedo que parecia que su heroe era un retrato de su misma persona aunque no fue nunca su intencion la de hacer autobiografia" (1931, 228). The story of Rozafel Mirabela reveals itself as the self-narrative or autobiographical fiction of Pedro Caballero. Behind the artifice of creative fiction--however transparent and sheer the masquerade--Caballero writes himself.

A writer in the mold of his literary progenitor, Rozafel's artistic inclinations become his most prominent attribute. As we are reminded throughout the novel, Rozafel "poseia un rasgo de feminidad encantadora que atraia de manera irresistible y le colocaba en elevado escalafon entre los grandes artistas; ya que esta condicion es tan comun entre los genios de arte y cosa que los exalta y los hace diferentes de los demas" (1931, 15). Recovering Paca Antillana from the archives of "lost queer histories" (Munoz 2009, 67), in this article I analyze the novel's representation of Rozafel's "condition," his unabashed inversion of traditional gender and sexual norms through his descriptions as "artistic," an adjective, not coincidentally, which stood as a widespread code for homosexuality in early twentieth-century New York. (4) By examining Rozafel's self-defined femininity and lack of normative manliness, I also show how it relates to Paca Antillana's self-determining blackness, and the intersectional transformation, through artistic performance, of their respective characteristic traits into sources of personal and collective pride. This novel, I argue, articulates a queer subjectivity that is tied to the self-aware performance of racial difference, and in so doing, presents a remarkable early example of the Latinx camp aesthetics that are integral to contemporary queer-of-color cultural expressions.

The stylized Latinx theatrics that I analyze in Paca Antillana are visible in the scattered traces we have of Pedro Caballero's biography. We see this, for example, in a striking photograph of the author published in Artes y Letras (See Figure 1). Pictured standing inside the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain, Caballero is dressed up as a Moorish king amidst a princely setting of arabesque columns, looking regally at the camera. He wears a turban and with one arm holds a long, antique rifle, as if a stage prop or an extension of his costume. The scene certainly exudes camp, but a campiness that encodes multiple messages beyond the mere failure of heteronormative conventions. (5) Caballero leans, in the photograph, on the civilizational and aristocratic history of Spain, claiming, as a U.S.-based "Hispanic," a rich cultural heritage that places him in equal standing to Anglo-Americans. Yet, as a migrant and colonial subject, he simultaneously identifies with the Moors, the exoticized, vanquished infidels who represent an otherness at the heart of the imagined cultural, racial, and religious purity of Spain. Indeed, more than in the vein of traditional understandings of camp, the stylized photograph can be read as a snapshot of the "disidentification" strategies that, as Jose Esteban Munoz argues, characterize queer-of-color performances. Disidentification, Munoz writes, "scrambles and reconstructs the encoded message of a cultural text in a fashion that both exposes the encoded message's universalizing and exclusionary machinations and recruits its workings to account for, include, and empower minority identities and identifications" (1999, 31). It hence underlines the layered meanings with which minority subjects appropriate dominant cultures in order to represent their own marginalized positionality. These disidentification strategies, predicated on the overlaps of racial, ethnic, linguistic, gender, and/or sexual concerns, are at the core of Caballero's Latinx camp aesthetics.

Reading Caballero's Paca Antillana as a novel that deliberately articulates a queer subjectivity lends depth to Latinx New York and Puerto Rican queer literary histories. From the 1990s onward, a generation of scholars has developed Puerto Rican queer studies as an established academic field of inquiry that has continued to proliferate (Aponte-Pares et al. 2007). However, Puerto Rican scholarship generally presents queer literary voices as a relatively recent, late-twentieth-century development. This essay, on the contrary, follows La Fountain-Stokes's recent invitation to reconsider what "our dominant chronologies for queer Latina/o literature look like" (2016, 183), and, through its reading of Caballero's 1931 novel, helps broaden established queer Latinx literary timelines. (6)

Such an invitation also expands the thematic concerns of Puerto Rican queer cultural scholarship, which has predominantly dealt with the problematic tensions between homosexual desire and traditional national imaginaries. The Puerto Rican literary canon, as well as more explicitly gay writings, have been frequently queer-read in relation to the idea of and desire for a Puerto Rican nation, a critical tendency arguably made more pronounced by the island's abiding colonial status. This is to say that rather than a subject in and of itself, Puerto Rican scholars have often addressed cultural expressions of Puerto Rican queerness as a means to understand the rather queer Puerto Rican national-colonial character. As Ruben Rios Avila affirms, "quizas no haya naciones mas implacables que las que existen como objetos de deseo. El deseo ha sido caracterizado en Puerto Rico usualmente como el deseo de la nacion" (2002, 102). This prevalent focus on the queer as a lens to grapple with the colonial-national quandary is also exemplified by Arnaldo Cruz-Malave when he asks, "What is the relationship of sexuality, especially 'queer' sexuality to sovereignty in a colonial setting such as Puerto Rico?" (2007a, 51).

This critical tendency to privilege the queer in order to think about the nation has yielded two interlocking, but conflicting perspectives. On the one hand, queerness has been employed as a trope to signify the hybrid, Commonwealth status of the island and its people. Ruben Rios Avila, for instance, explains how "Puerto Rico es ... una colonia queer en sus pretensiones nacionales o una nacion queer por sus preferencias coloniales" (2009, 1130). Similarly, Larry La Fountain-Stokes contends that "Puerto Ricans are a queer bunch ... insular, migratory and translocal, with U.S. citizenship and passports since 1917; speaking Spanish or English or sometimes, perhaps rather often, some variations of both" (2005, 275). In line with this perspective, representations of queer affects and processes, including shame (Negron-Muntaner 2004), trauma (Rios Avila 2002), feminization (Villanueva-Collado 2007), and emasculation (Lugo-Ortiz 1998) have been theorized as symptomatic of coloniality. These studies, thus, explicitly or implicitly tie queerness to the colonial condition of the island. In this sense, queer Puerto Rican studies subverts the idea of a Puerto Rican nation, since what is so queer about the Puerto Rican case is precisely its political in-betweenness, its lack of a 'virile' nation-statehood.

At the same time, if somewhat paradoxically, queer Puerto Rican studies has fixed the idea of a Puerto Rican nation as a territorial space from which one can depart or be pushed out. This is an idea especially prevalent in the examination of the Puerto Rican queer diaspora. Favoring the category of "sexile," as coined by sociologist Manuel Guzman (1997), many Puerto Rican queer scholars have tackled how "attitudes toward stigmatized forms of same-sex sexuality and gender variance provoke and affect migration" (La Fountain-Stokes 2009, ix). These works emphasize the mobility implicit in the term queer itself, which refuses fixed or stable definitions, in order to show how migration is conditioned by sexuality. Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel's scholarship (2003, 2008, 2011) is representative of this line of inquiry by both, tracing the intersecting coordinates between queer longing and diasporic flight, and showing how the acceptance of a queer sexual identity often coincides with the distancing of national identity. Or to give another example, Cruz-Malave (1996), in an important re-reading of Nuyorican literature, has explored how the figure of the homosexual is expelled from an island-bound national imaginary, but integrated into the experiences of marginality and abjectness of diasporic expressions. The queer, in these diaspora-centered critical studies, is often depicted as a figure who can break or be cast away from the purportedly stable, geographically bound, homophobic nation, as well as someone whose sexuality is expressed differently, and often more openly, in the diaspora.

One of the most productive consequences of this fracture between a queer diaspora and a national body has been the broadened range of voices and cultural practices that have come to be associated with the Puerto Rican diasporic queer experience, which provides important clues for how to read a text like Caballero's Paca Antillana. By exploring the contributions of those located outside traditional "national" parameters, Puerto Rican queer scholars have recovered figures like Keith Haring, Juanito Xtravaganza, Sylvia Rivera, Holly Woodlawn, Mario Montez, and Jose Rodriguez Soltero, all of whom were immersed in U.S. queer avant-garde circles. In turn, this recuperation of the cultural legacy of disappeared, diasporic Puerto Rican queer artists has brought to the critical fore the asymmetrical relations between an implicitly white U.S. queer tradition anchored in camp aesthetics and the Puerto Rican and Latinx minority subjects laboring in these artistic orbits. As Frances Negron-Muntaner has argued, in the U.S. queer avant-garde Puerto Rican performers have often been showcased not as artistic creators, but as racialized objects for the consumption of white queer desires. Underlining a queer camp dynamic that, while ostensibly revaluing vulnerable subjects ends up further devaluing and marginalizing black and brown bodies, Negron-Muntaner builds a compelling case for the importance of differentiating between traditional white camp and the "Boricua camp" advanced by stigmatized Puerto Rican figures (2004, 106-14). Caballero's novel, with its self-conscious tying of gender transgression to racial flaunting, can be read as an important precursor to these diasporic camp aesthetics predicated on a heightened awareness of the racializing practices embedded even across seemingly horizontal queer relations.

Recent critical interventions in this vein also help us understand the obscurity into which Caballero and his literary work have fallen. Specifically, Cruz-Malave has recently pushed Negron-Muntaner's argument further by contending that the unequal dynamics that marginalize queer Latinx artists are not solely rooted in racialized and discriminatory artistic relations, but are also reinforced by critics who have championed a narrow understanding of camp exclusively anchored in the experiences of white males. The works of a Puerto Rican queer diaspora have also been neglected, as he puts it, "because a form of reading avant-garde culture, and perhaps 'art' tout court, has increasingly prevailed in critical accounts, making illegible works like those of queer diasporic Puerto Ricans that oscillate between irony and belief, or that refuse to reduce to camp irony as artistic expressions" (2015, 594). As this reductive understanding of camp turned into a critical "master code," he argues, works that haven't abided by these implicitly white sensibilities became critically imperceptible. This argument is especially important as we consider the novel's possible neglect based on critical judgments about its literary quality or value. Indeed, we can think of Pedro Caballero's Paca Antillana as having suffered from a double erasure, or disappearance. As an early twentieth-century novel written in Spanish, but published in New York, it is certainly part of a broader forgotten Latinx literary heritage that is slowly being unearthed, and in which texts by women and middle-class figures like Labarthe and Caballero have been particularly overlooked. But even if Paca Antillana has been ostensibly unburied --the novel, after all, is referenced in various studies and has been digitalized by Arte Publico Press' Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Project--its camp aesthetics have largely remained undecipherable, an illegibility this article begins to rectify.

Paca Antillana's Racial Excess and the Inversion of Racialized Romances

Paca Antillana's staging of Latinx camp aesthetics, predicated on the intersections of gender, sexuality and raciality, commences with the novel's treatment of race. The storyline of "la negrita" Paca Antillana, the protagonist who gives the novel its name, appears at the forefront of a narrative plot that intertwines her journey with that of co-protagonist Rozafel Mirabela. Prefiguring Rozafel's vindication of his effeminacy as artistic sensibility, Paca will flaunt her blackness, which, initially causing shame, through performance renders her racialized body a symbol of pride.

At the beginning of the novel, Paca is depicted as a poor, black young woman who roams the streets of her rural Puerto Rican hometown, lacking education and formative guidance. Borrowing heavily from racist stereotypes, the narrator describes Paca as an excessive figure, a child that is unpredictable, "alocada" (1931, 11) and "salvaje" (1931, 19). Migration, however, provides an escape route from these roads of insular ruination. From her impoverished beginnings, she goes on to follow a migratory pattern that will become paradigmatic of later Puerto Rican migration narratives, moving from the countryside to the island's capital, and then from San Juan to the mainland metropolis, New York. In San Juan, Paca Antillana comes of age and "se embellece ... en sus formas y en sus movimientos a pesar de su negrura reluciente y lozana, como si la hubieran esculpido en oscuro para que destacase mejor en nuestro cuento, para que difiriese de las heroinas blancas de las novelas" (1931, 43). Paca's blackness is presented as a racial reversal of typical conventions for a heroine, a flouting of literary expectations. Further playing off classic fairy tale tropes, in San Juan, Paca works as a maid for the light-skinned daughters of a wealthy businessman. "Quisiera ser blanca y hermosa como ellas" (1931, 43), she yearns. The narrator explains that Paca's transracial fantasy "era motivo de abatimiento por unos instantes, porque se encontraba en un pais pequeno, pobre y negra donde existen de manera muy marcada la diferencia de clases poniendo a base el color de la tez" (1931, 44). Poor and black, emigration appears to be the only solution for Paca's socioeconomic advancement. It is not long, thus, before she embarks for New York, a move which marks the beginning of a remarkable social ascension. In the urban metropolis, Paca's blackness is transformed from an impediment to an advantageous source of success as she becomes a celebrated chanteuse and jazz dancer, a Twenties flapper a la Josephine Baker. Enthralling Harlem with her performances, she goes on to become celebrated worldwide as the "Estrella Negra." No longer ignominious, she is now a symbol of national pride: "ya tenemos a una negrita tipicamente borinquena honrando a su pueblo en tierras distantes ... !Ejemplo digno de imitacion!" (1931, 81).

Paca's fairy tale-like metamorphosis from impoverished maid to revered star is narrated in tandem with her romantic misadventures, which are also predicated on another form of inversion, that of the norms of whitening miscegenation. Paca is courted by two Puerto Rican-born men, one a scurrilous but racially desirable landed heir of 'pure' Spanish origins, "Teddy" Gallart, and the other a virtuous but mulatto laborer named Pedro Juan. As she struggles to decide between them, it becomes clear that at its heart, her romantic conundrum is whether or not to abide by social imperatives of racial whitening: "siendo el [Pedro Juan] de su raza no tendria ella que sentirse humillada ... pero en el fondo de su alma moraba una egoista ambicion que le hacia tener a Pedro Juan por poca cosa" (1931, 247), an ambition that makes her desire to improve her social standing through a whitening romance with Gallart.

Yet, while aware of racialized conventions, Paca Antillana ultimately aims to subvert norms. Toward the end of the novel, Gallart has squandered his fortune, committed a crime, and, in one of the novel's climactic scenes, violently attacks Paca in order to steal her money. But, just in time, she is rescued by the honorable and handsome "hibrido" Pedro Juan. This pivotal scene sets the stage for Paca and Pedro Juan to triumphantly become "los hibridos novios," who will engender "serafines muy morenos: los ninos hibridos de Pedro Juan y Paca" (1931, 269--emphasis added). While this hybridity may seem to point to a traditional form of Latin American mestizaje, predicated on racist hierarchies and national desires for progressive whitening, Paca and Pedro Juan's hybrid romance functions differently. It destabilizes the normative conventions of whitening miscegenation. Gallart's disgrace undermines the supposed ideals of whiteness and Paca's marriage refuses the literary precepts for whitened mestizo offspring. (7) While Paca's characterization, especially at the onset of the novel, relies on racist stereotypes, ultimately, Caballero's multifaceted and diasporic racial scheme expands national and racial bounds, carving a space for those bodies "muy morenos," traditionally deemed excessive and undesirable in the national imaginary.

Rozafel Mirabela's Aestheticism and Other Forms of Excessive Selves

Paca's distinctive blackness, which shapes her personal and professional journeys, is mirrored by Rozafel Mirabela's self-defined aestheticism and artistic effeminacy. Paca's former rural school teacher, Rozafel, also migrates to New York in order to cultivate more freely his artistic inclinations, and, like Paca, travel widely across the globe. Yet, whereas Paca's artistic disposition is racially embodied, Rozafel will externalize his aesthetic sensibilities through other means, like the interior decor of his home. As the narrator explains, Rozafel's "marcada aficion por todo lo suave y lo frivolo," is best exemplified "en la manera de arreglar su estudio y su casa. Su estudio parecia el gabinete de una princesita oriental. Sugeria molicie e indolencia, aunque bellisimo" (1931, 219--emphasis added). Rozafel's studio is then described in rich detail, a passage, like many others, which may seem like digression, but is in fact central to the novel's staging of Latinx queer camp aesthetics:

Al entrar en el estudio sorprendia a los ojos una hermosa copia al oleo de la "Aurora" de Guido Reni ... sobre la chimenea y en la tablilla de la misma candelabros de cristal de Checoslovaquia y libros en varias lenguas. Debajo un cofre-asiento florentino con artisticos cojines y tapices. El piso con gran alfombra oriental y botijos de Valencia y jarros de Talavera por todas partes. Sobre el armario de curiosidades y juguetes, una copia del 'busto di un fanciullo' de Donatello que el trajo de Pisa. En los rincones, comodas otomanas con mullidos asientos ... Al visitarlo dijo uno de los muchos amigos artistas de Rozafel que daban ganas de tirar cojines por todas partes y quemar incienso. (1931, 195-6)

Rozafel's home decor signals a life of admissible sensuous gratifications. Amidst its carefully arranged, beautiful objects, a community of permissible homosociality is formed: his many "amigos artistas" can visit him and lounge around, yearning to burn incense and throw pillows around. It is a description very much in keeping with what David Halperin identifies as the historical importance of the imagery of gay male rooms, "the aspiration to achieve a more gratifying way of life, a life of refinement, distinction and pleasure," one not attainable elsewhere or otherwise (2012, 238).

Moreover, in keeping with the autobiographical fiction device in the novel, this description of Rozafel's studio perfectly matches Caballero's real-life apartment. In a photograph of Caballero's studio published in Artes y Letras, we discern the large-scale copy of the "Aurora," ornamental vases, and a myriad of pillows with Egyptian motifs echoing the supposed sensibility of a "princesita oriental" (See Figure 2). Indeed, in its evocation of an exoticized, Orientalist ambiance, the fictional studio also recalls the real-life portrait of Caballero dressed up as a Moorish king in Granada and its strategies of disidentification. Rozafel's room is inspired by Europe, displaying both aristocratic pretensions and a self-conscious high-brow taste. But, significantly, the aesthetic excess of objects are deemed beautiful and precious not for their rarity --the painting, for example, is a copy--but for their ability to encode sensuality and pleasure. With them, and in the intimacy of his home, he can now openly posture not as king, but as princess.

The gayness and sociability of Rozafel's life in New York, as represented by his studio, contrasts sharply with his restrained and reclusive way of life in Puerto Rico. Rozafel, we are told, felt out of place in the island's social clubs and casinos since he didn't share the common tastes and likings of other Puerto Ricans. Clearly implied is that he couldn't fully and openly be himself and, hence, kept to himself: "Debido a esta misantropia muchos acefalos lo tenian por 'personaje misterioso y poco sociable'" (1931, 74). He was, we are told numerous times, misunderstood. "Si podemos asegurar que Rozafel no fue nunca bien comprendido ... No hacia nada de lo que generalmente llama la atencion al rebano, nada de lo que tanto atrae a las masas" (1931, 73). This misunderstanding is decried elsewhere in the narrative: "!Ese hombre no es para este mundo! !Imposible que lo comprendan!" (1931, 75). In New York, on the contrary, Rozafel's misunderstood ways are not stigmatizing and isolating, but rather serve as bona fides of belonging to an artistically gifted 'kind' that could be admired. New York provides "un campo amplisimo para un joven de las condiciones de Rozafel: se le presentaron ante su vista nuevos horizontes y se sintio como el 'pez en el agua'" (1931, 129). (8) Just like Paca, Rozafel refuses the more common story of migrant maladjustment and nostalgia. Instead, he finds in New York a sense of openness and belonging that prefigures more contemporary accounts of queer diasporas.

Rozafel's misunderstood character and artistic affinities belong to a longstanding queer literary tradition that ties homoeroticism with aestheticism as misunderstood affections. What Halperin has called the "peculiar merging of eroticism and aestheticism that is distinctive to gay male culture" (2012, 230) was perhaps most famously espoused by Oscar Wilde when he affirmed in public court: "It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo.... It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as 'the love that dare not speak its name'" (quoted in Hyde 1956, 234). Indeed, queer scholars have explored how male homoeroticism has historically been constructed not by way of sexual practices, but by engaging in specific cultural practices predicated on shared taste (Bronski 1984; Fellows 2005; and Halperin 2012). Paca Antillana partakes in this sharing and transmission of queerness as an experience of, in Halperin's words, "highly patterned forms of embodied sensibility" (2012, 64), in which individual and concrete desires for someone are transmuted into a spiritualized love for something, objects and places that embody an idealized form of what is precious and pleasurable. In this regard, Rozafel's last name, Mirabela, is not etymological happenstance. (9) He is the one looking for beauty: "Rozafel no amaba a un determinado lugar de la tierra sino todo lo que en la tierra hay de bello. Cuando en algun rincon del globo encontraba belleza extraordinaria, de ella se convertia en un devoto" (1931, 75--emphasis added). His worldly, transnational search for beauty--appropriately feminized--takes on the language of a medieval romantic quest, the devout search for the lover. His story is thus one of a transfer of his effusive erotic energies to beautiful objects.

Whereas Paca's social ascent is accompanied by sexual courtship, much of the plot that relates to Rozafel consists of chapters that describe his search for artistic beauty in spite of (or rather because of) the lack of heteronormative romance in his life. His aesthetic likings are sumptuously described. We learn he is an aficionado of the theater, the ballet, and the opera, and an expert in costume and set design. He adores grand spectacles and divas, being a 'devotee' of Hollywood stars, opera singers and a long litany of dancers, starlets, and chanteuses, whom he references by name. Similarly, he veers towards the ornamental excesses of the Churrigueresque style and the fin-de-siecle sonic richness of Strauss's waltzes. More pointedly, the language used to describe these well-defined cultural tastes oscillates between the religious and the sexual, two registers that converge toward the end of the novel, when we are told that Rozafel

no habia nacido para ser casado. Un amor pasional le hubiera robado los momentos mas suyos: su profunda contemplacion de lo bello, su amor universal. No habia nacido para amar a una sola persona. Eso le hubiera parecido limitadisimo, el amor enfrascado. El tenia naturalmente que amar todo lo bello: la fuente, el rio, el cielo, el mar y Dios sabe que mas adoraba su alma de artista. (1931, 269)

His unwillingness to tread a heteronormative path of marriage and his failure to abide by tenets of masculinist sexuality are not only naturalized, but rendered pure and spiritual, and, thus, permissible by way of his aestheticism.

This romantic quest for eroticized beauty may be an individual pursuit, but it is also a source of community. With Paca Antillana, Caballero aims to address readers of similar sensibilities, intending to constitute a kindred community predicated on common artistic appreciation. This is evident in his introduction, in which, inspired by a quote from Spanish writer Enrique Perez Escrich--"todo lo que es bello tiene irresistible atractivo para los hombres de genio"--Caballero explains that he intends to narrate "algo de lo bello y atrayente que en el mundo he visto ... como un cofre resplandeciente," and thus dedicates the book "a mis lectores 'de genio'" (1931, 6). This open call to those who share "esta condicion ... tan comun entre los genios de arte" (1931, 15), as the novel's narrator puts it, is an invitation to the right 'kind' of reader. To be "of genius," of course, is to be rare. But if the rare have generally been cast away, this dedication can be read as a form of shared language, an appeal to those "entendidos," to employ the Spanish queer argot, who will understand his call and be wise enough to open the novel's shimmering secret "chest," underlining thus their collective identity. (10) As George Chauncey explains about the frequent use of male gay argot in early twentieth-century New York, "the very fact that men could understand a common code emphasized their membership in a group to whose codes they alone were 'wise,' and became a sign by which they distinguished themselves from outsiders" (1994, 287). Caballero's introductory words reinforce a sense of community among those "de genio" who share similar 'irresistible' attractions, and as such become astute insiders of their group, rather than misunderstood social outcasts.

Given that the history of New York queer cultures prior to the 1960s has overwhelmingly centered on white male accounts, Paca Antillana opens up new avenues to study early Latinx queer communities of which we know so little. (11) If Caballero's coding of "de genio" perhaps indicates the constitution of a gay community, it is currently difficult to assess how widespread and understood such multi-coded metaphorics could be in the Hispanic New York of the 1920s and 1930s. However, the presence of distinctively queer early twentieth-century New York Hispanic circles, where such language would have been legible, is also supported when we consider Caballero's Paca Antillana alongside other queer Hispanic lives and literary representations of the same period. Take, for example, Jose Isaac de Diego Padro's 1924 novella, Sebastian Guenard, about a queer Cuban in New York, who, as an effeminate art collector and aspiring writer, shares striking resemblances with Rozafel Mirabela. We can also consider the sojourn in New York of homosexual Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, whose "Oda a Walt Whitman" documents the experience of sexual stigma in the metropolis, as well the daring life and works of the openly lesbian poet, novelist, and playwright Mercedes Acosta, who was born in New York to upper-class Cuban and Spanish parents, and who was immersed in New York's artistic circles, with some of her plays produced in the city in the 1920s. These examples, which are discussed by La Fountain-Stokes (2016, 183-7), along with the oeuvre and endeavors of Caballero, suggest the existence of legibly queer New York Hispanic spaces, in which the experiences of the modern metropolis, upper- and middle-class politics, artistic production, and deliberate aesthetic self-fashioning commingled with various modes of ethno-racial affirmation and the embrace, or at least expression of, sexual diversity or gender nonconformity. In this context, it bears noting that Caballero's own "genio" or "rareza" was openly celebrated by at least one contemporary critic. In a review published in Artes y Letras, Fatima Mendez describes Caballero as a "bohemio aristocratico" and a "peregrino de la belleza," who stood out for his intriguing queerness: "Cada dia nos parece mas enigmatica la psicologia de este escritor ... esta es la rareza que hacia el nos atrae" (1935, 8). Significantly, in his literary circle, Caballero's enigmatic queerness is not a cause of rejection, but rather a source of attraction and interest.

Early Latinx Camp Aesthetics and Unsubmissive Silences

Caballero's coded aestheticism and silences are part of the novel's broader closeted communicative practices, forms of covert Latinx self-expression that upend a Latin Americanist inheritance of overt homoerotic silence. Specifically, Caballero's encoded aesthetics can be understood as a queering of the nineteenth-century brand of latinidad championed by Latin American modernist writers like Jose Enrique Rodo. Rodo's spiritualist-culturalist proposition of la raza undergirded the pan-ethnic identity Hispanist discourses espoused by Caballero and his colleagues in Spanish-language venues like Artes y Letras. (12) The fashioning of a "novela pedagogica"--the subtitle of Paca Antillana--, indeed, can be read as a nod to the pedagogical tone that pervades Rodo's writings. Following Rodo and other Latin American modernists, Caballero and his Artes y Letras' colleagues saw themselves as a select minority of educated men and women who had the duty to guide the uncouth masses of their compatriots. Caballero's pedagogical and moralizing zeal is evident in the various columns and editorials he penned for Artes y Letras. It also undergirds Paca Antillana, not only through the tales of self-improvement of its two protagonists, but also by way of Rozafel's account of his teaching experiences and views. The influences from Rodo, moreover, were not only ideological but also stylistic. In particular, Caballero, like other writers in Artes y Letras, emulated Rodo's excessively ornate prose. As Caballero himself put it, he aimed to write with the "regia orfebreria del lenguaje" (1931, 6), soldering highly embellished, often overwrought phrases that aim at the decorative, as much as the communicative.

But Pedro Caballero not only borrows from Rodo's imaginary of latinidad, he also effectively queers his culturalist project in New York. Oscar Montero, in a series of queer readings of Rodo's work, has argued that despite Rodo's penchant for the baroque, his project is one of eradicating deviant, decadent excesses, especially any trace of homoerotic desire. In Rodo, he argues, "homoerotic friendship" is a "thorny topic" deliberately "written out of existence" so that "not even the slightest hint of same-sex desire must remain" (1997b, 103). Rodo's "homosexual panic" (1997a, 27) has, according to Montero, enduring effects in foreclosing the articulation of Latin American homosexual identities. In Caballero's work, on the contrary, excess and decadence are celebrated and homoerotism is not erased, but coded so that hints of queer subjectivity are allowed to mark the text and remain legible to those "de genio." Rodo's "self-abjection" in Latin America, as read by Montero, is reversed by Rozafel Mirabela's self-exaltation and aesthetic excess in New York. Or said otherwise, if in the Latin American tradition represented by Rodo homosexuality is excised and "closed-off," in Caballero's Latinx New York it is present and "closeted." (13)

The novel's most revealing moments, especially as they pertain to Rozafel's queerness, are not to be found in things said, but in those suggested by way of a closeted language. Whereas Rodo's silence is, as Montero shows, "absolute" and "without a whimper" (1997a, 26), so that homoerotics are "silenced into submission" (1997b, 103), Caballero's narrative persistently communicates; his silence, as it were, is defiantly unsubmissive. In Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Sedgwick has discussed the importance of silence as a communicative tool for the development of closeted aesthetics. For her, closetedness is "itself is a performance initiated as such by the speech act of a silence" (2008, 3). A recurrent strategy throughout Paca Antillana, this silence-as-speech act is perhaps most evident in a chapter titled "Maestro Rozafel." In it, the reader naturally expects a description of the eponymous protagonist, but in the first paragraph of the chapter the narrator, paradoxically, refuses to do so: "Nuestro heroe es muy ideal y complejo para ser puesto en unas paginas. Para ello nos falta la habilidad" (1931, 73). A veritable 'genio,' he seems to surpass the narrator's intellect and powers of description. But this avowed inability to describe Rozafel--in a chapter dedicated to describing him--is subverted some paragraphs later by deliberately employing silence and secrecy as a mode of communication. We learn that Rozafel was often chided by people in Puerto Rico "porque creian que evadia el trato de las mujeres y no se casaba pronto. Pero el que no se casara pronto se debia a sus in tenciones de viajar y de conocer el mundo.. Puede que existieran en su alma algunas otras razones y que el solo quisiera ser sincero para con su ser interno" (1931, 74--emphasis added). While ostensibly providing, through the desire to travel, an acceptable justification for his refusal to court women as heteronormative norms would dictate, this tendered explanation is then deliberately undermined by his vocal and intentional withholding of more personal and sincere reasons that can't be told, just like earlier he couldn't be described. Tellingly, here it is explicitly not a matter of not knowing, but of not saying, an ineffability that is as revealing. His self-disclosure is staged not by what is said, but by what remains closeted.

Caballero's speech acts of silences are rendered more audible when contrasted with the volubility displayed elsewhere in the narrative. As Sedgwick describes it, silence as a closeted aesthetic accrues meaning "in relation to the discourse that surrounds and differentially constitutes it" (2008, 3). In Paca, the narrator's avowed inability (or rather implied refusal) to describe Rozafel sharply contrasts with the long, detailed and highly sexualized descriptions of Paca's two handsome suitors, Teddy Gallart and Pedro Juan. Describing Gallart, for instance, the (implicitly male) narrator notes piquantly that he knows his descriptions of Gallart will arouse the imagination of the "senoritas" (1931, 71). The narrator's sexualized gaze toward Gallart is mirrored back by Gallart's own provocative eyes: "Lo que primero impresionaba al contemplar a Teddy era el destello fulgurante de aquellos ojos que heria el corazon directa e inevitablemente" (1931, 72). Whereas Rozafel is described almost exclusively in terms of behavior and personality traits, the two male supporting characters of the novel are, in contrast, described with provocative physical details.

Caballero's closeted communicative strategies, and perhaps a tutorial for understanding them, are illustrated in another striking image of the unsubmissive queer gaze from the opening lines of his second novel, Enfermeras del amor (1935). Entitled "Ojos," the novel begins with the following suggestive line: "Asi como hay ojos que pasean su rara belleza por lo mucho que se abren, hay los que nos parecen hermosos por lo mucho que se cierran" (1935, 19). In other words, closure and reticence can be as illuminating and suggestive as openness and disclosure. Caballero then goes on to describe his veritable adoration for the exaggeratedly large and beautiful eyes of performer Eddie Cantor: "Yo no tendria inconveniente alguno en caer de rodillas para admirar esos ojos como cai al contemplar la aerea catedral de Milan ... !Ojos de Eddie Cantor! Dejadme que os guarde admirativamente en el coire [sic] sensitivo de mi imaginacion peregrina o amandolos platonicamente en la auricula derecha de mi corazon" (1935, 21). (14) And then, as if fully aware of the impropriety of his own eye-opening revelation, he immediately asks for readers' understanding: "Perdonad mi espontanea sinceridad." Caballero's homoerotic "confession" is at once silent--his infatuation with Eddie Cantor is, after all, explicitly and safely platonic--and excessively audible, doubly staged by means of his prayer words, as well as the metaphorics of his kneeling gesture. Posturing as a spontaneous disclosure, Caballero's confession comes off as carefully calibrated and staged, a performance which both safeguards silence and subverts secrets. Through its theatrics, silenced submission is transformed into veritably unsubmissive (and communicative) silence.

Ultimately, these dexterous maneuverings of the liberatory potentials of performance undergird Caballero's Latinx camp esthetics and the intersectional anxieties embodied by Paca's raciality and Rozafel's queerness. Paca Antillana and Rozafel Mirabela achieve success not by hiding or taming their differences, whether racial or gendered, but by rendering these characteristic traits a source of a seemingly innate artistic performance. Black Paca is depicted as an instinctively talented jazz performer, whereas effeminate Rozafel is portrayed as a natural cultural arbiter and writer. Both proudly put on a show of their conspicuous othering traits and thus embark on successful artistic careers. Social respectability and pride is not earned by suppressing, repressing or even overcoming "conditions" which initially branded them with shame as outcasts, but through the unrepentant, performative flaunting of these differences.

Beyond paralleling each other journeys, we can also now see how Paca and Rozafel actually serve as proxy for each other, lending another layer to the disidentification practices that structure Caballero's Latinx camp esthetics. If Rozafel's communicates through closeted speech and code, Paca is voluble, a chanteuse and jazz star. Her race is a visible, inborn trait, just as Rozafel desires others to understand his 'sensibility.' And her sexual courtship is mirrored by Rozafel's sublimated pursuit of beautiful objects. Indeed, the racialized romance between Paca and Pedro Juan, a union un-encroached upon by the conventions of whitening miscegenation, can also be read as a stand-in for queer love, exceeding the customary parameters of acceptable romances. To this end, at the conclusion of the novel, the stories of co-protagonists Paca and Rozafel finally converge as they together return to the island of Puerto Rico. But this is a nation that can now not only receive the hybrid love of Paca and Pedro Juan and their very dark-skinned offspring, but also an even queerer family arrangement. Paca, Pedro Juan, their children and Rozafel all move in to live together. What was supposed to be a foundational pair and nuclear family becomes what Sylvia Molloy and Robert McKee Irwin term a "queer family romance" (1998, xiv). The surrogate relationship between Paca and Rozafel is further reinforced as Paca's biological reproductivity echoes Rozafel's cultural productivity: Paca has engendered children, and Rozafel has given birth to his novel, not incidentally another form of non-silence.

In the wake of this familial birthing, the specter of queer death makes an appearance. In the penultimate chapter, an aged Rozafel contemplates suicide, seemingly setting the stage for one last grand theatrical act. But Caballero's Latinx camp aesthetics are not about queer abjection or failure; on the contrary, they permit us to envision queer futurities through the redemptive potentials of performance. Thus, the curtain rises one last time for a coda titled "Apotheosis Final," in which divine genius can finally be understood and appreciated. An elderly Rozafel, instead of dying, relishes in the most utopian of dreams, for what was and remains a deeply homophobic society: he had achieved el "reconocimiento y amor de [sus] compueblanos" (1931, 273).

(Un)masked Conclusions: The Two Pedros

I opened this article by underlining some biographical overlaps between Pedro Caballero and his colleague Pedro Labarthe, and as a mode of queer closure I would like to return to Labarthe. Twenty-seven years after Labarthe and Caballero published their respective first novels in New York, Labarthe penned a strikingly direct, explicit, and unabashed defense of homosexuality, one of the first in U.S. Latinx literature. In his novel Mary Smith (1958), we are presented with the tragic story of Carley, and told straightforwardly of the need to "defend Carley's kind of people. Carley was a homosexual" (1958, 285). Like Caballero's Rozafel, Labarthe's Carley is an aesthete and artist, who "liked music, dancing and all the manifestations of the art. He wrote short stories and even dramas" (1958, 286). Carley, moreover, "was conscious of having been born a homosexual as the hunchback is conscious of being a hunchback ... they are born that way and some hate the very day they were born thus" (1958, 286). The narrator goes on to articulate a passionate defense of homosexuality that once again ties those de genio, as Caballero had phrased it, with homosexuality. (15) Gay men and women, he tells us, "have been living on the surface of the earth since man appeared on the earth.. Geniuses had been homosexual. Scientists, immortal musicians, immortal painters, dancers, singers, writers, Nobel Prize winners, newspaper men, tennis players, boxers, generals, soldiers, pedagogues, priests--why then be alarmed?" (1958, 287).

The ubiquity of homosexuality is also stressed through the narrator's knowledgeable mapping of gay male gathering sites. Gay men congregated, he explains, in "Broadway and Greenwich Village ... those 'meeting places' in the great Metropolitan Capital ... small cafes in London, in Berlin ... in Havana and Mexico City. They are everywhere and no nation has monopoly on them as no nation has monopoly on gifted people" (1958, 288). The gifted, those de genio, thus forged a transnational gay subculture in the great metropolises of art and culture, cities like the ones Caballero and Labarthe had assiduously explored in their respective travels, and which decidedly extended to the Hispanic world, too. (16)

While Labarthe's narrator underscores the prevalence of these cosmopolitan centers of homosexuality, we are also reminded that physical and psychological pain inflicted by others is never far out of reach. The narrator indicts "the cruel society [that] enjoys making fun of the ones born thus" (1958, 286) and charges those who reject homosexuals with repressing homoerotic desires of their own. "Probably the ones who scorn most mercilessly at the natural born victims by exposing these poor ones to the public scandals and public roar are hiding something" (1958, 287). Homophobia is here too tied to misapprehension, since "fops, coxcomb, false, trashy, ignoramus, alarmist, non-sociological people are the ones who look with contempt" at gay men and women (1958, 287). While rectifiable, widespread ignorance and misunderstanding often lead to immeasurable anguish since Carley and "his kind" are frequent victims of disparaging and violent attacks. Carley, in fact, is outed as a homosexual "by unscrupulous people" and consequently shamed and abused. In order to save his reputation in the face of injurious scandal, he almost marries a "wealthy and intelligent" lesbian who "had been suffering the same tortures as Carley." Yet, in the end, Carley decides that "the matrimony to me was going to be a make-believe, a sham matrimony, and therefore it was going to be a lie and was not going to work. I did not want to live a lie" (1958, 289). The fictional marriage is called off.

Pedro Labarthe himself never married. He dedicated himself to writing and teaching, achieving professional prominence. Yet, in June 1953, after eight years as a faculty member and head of the Spanish department at Pennsylvania College for Women in Pittsburgh, Labarthe was informed that the College would not renew his contract. In local newspapers and public statements, the College refused to elaborate on the details of the employment severance, affirming only that colleagues had voted not to renew his contract. The American Association of University Professors took up his case some months later. They argued that "no charge worthy of a name had been made against Labarthe," which would justify his dismissal. (17) Around that same time, Labarthe was engaged, rather abruptly, to a very wealthy and much older widow, who was a major patron of the Pittsburgh Arts. This announcement was often mentioned in news surrounding his dismissal for the charges "not worthy of a name." (18)

Labarthe neither regained his appointment nor followed through with the marriage. Instead, he moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where he joined the Spanish department at Illinois Wesleyan University. Like Caballero, he was an aficionado of the theater and opera and thus missed the lively cultural life of urban Pittsburgh. Yet he seemed to have adapted well to the rural environs of the Midwest. True to his reputation as an enthusiastic entertainer, he settled on a large property on Lake Bloomington where he frequently held festive cultural gatherings. (19) Partaking in the well-calibrated mixture of sociality and aestheticism reflected in Caballero's studio, Labarthe turned his house into a precious museum with walls covered with a significant collection of amassed objets d'art that included paintings, signed photographs, sculptures, antique clocks, Florentine miniatures and indigenous carvings. Giving a tour of his personal home-museum to a local journalist, Labarthe expressed that among his most precious treasures was an impressive collections of masks "done by Aztecs that are brilliant and wide mouthed, sterling silver masks of Mexico, ones done by the Mayas in Guatemala, the Inca masks that are smooth and dark, masks from Bolivia, the Belgium Congo and China" (Cullers 1955, 19) (See Figure 3). And, among all these original and unique masks, the "professor's prize," his most valued piece, was neither original, nor ancient, but a replica: "A copy of a Wampy mask, a strangely intriguing carving of wood [that stood] in a spot to which one's eyes keep returning." Why masks, the journalist wondered, to which Labarthe replied, "They hide one's true mask, don't they, like in the Greek tragedies?" (Cullers 1955, 19).

As chance has it, the cover of Pedro Caballero's novel--which was designed by Caballero himself--depicts the black silhouette of Paca Antillana, standing behind palm trees, wearing a ballroom gown and holding, prominently, in the center of the cover ... a mask (See Figure 4). As if on her way to a masquerade ball, Paca becomes a mask exhibiting another mask, which rather than hiding, permits the unabashed flaunting of simultaneously sexual, gendered and racialized personas. It is through this layered staging of masquerade and disidentificatory practices that Caballero's Latinx camp aesthetics transform the tragedy of having to wear a mask into the endless, liberatory possibilities of self-conscious performance.


I wish to thank Arnaldo Cruz-Malave and Frances Negron-Muntaner for their valuable comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this essay.


(1) The professional, middle-class New York Hispanic society so richly documented in the pages of Artes y Letras has received less critical attention that the lives and cultural expressions of their contemporary working-class counterparts. Artes y Letras nonetheless has been the subject of various studies, which have tended to focus on its founder, Josefina Silva de Cintron, as well as its role broadcasting discourses of Pan-Americanist feminism and Hispanism. See: Perez Jimenez (2016, 114-37); Sanchez Korrol (1986, 171-3); Schechter (2011, 91-127); Schlau (2012); Vera-Rojas (2014, 2015, 2016).

(2) For a discussion of the importance of autobiographical fiction as a literary convention of Puerto Rican and U.S. Latinx queer narratives, see La Fountain-Stokes (2009, 20-8).

(3) A photograph printed in Artes y Letras in March 1935, for example, showed Pedro Caballero attending a conference in honor of the centenary of Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi in Zurich, Switzerland. Two chapters in the novel, in turn, discuss Pestalozzi and his centenary, as well as Rozafel's travels to Switzerland to commemorate the event.

(4) On how gay men refuted labels of degeneracy and deviance by asserting membership in an artistically gifted 'kind,' see Chauncey (1994, 53, 228-30, 282-6). Chauncey quotes a doctor who, in 1914, noted how homosexual men often insisted that they were not inferior, but rather superior, as "they stand on a higher level than those normally sexed, that they are the specially favored of the muses of poetry and the arts" (1994, 282)--a claim which strongly echoes Rozafel's own description.

(5) Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp" remains a key text for understanding camp signifying practices. Since then the political and aesthetic queer uses of camp have received considerable attention. See, for example, Meyer (1994) and Cleto (1999). While these understandings and definitions of camp continue to privilege white, English-language dominant, male experiences, such privileging has been challenged by Puerto Rican and Latinx critics, as discussed later in the essay.

(6) Critics generally consider Manuel Ramos Otero's collection of short stories, Concierto de metal para un recuerdo (1971) and Victor Fragoso's poetry collection, El reino de la espiga (1973), inaugural examples of openly gay voices in Puerto Rican literature. Cruz-Malave, for instance, explains that "there are no lesbian or gay representations in Puerto Rican literature prior to the 1970s...That is, there is prior to the 1970s no poetic persona or writing subjects for whom homosexuality is seen as the key factor that determines his or her being, as the source (or one of the sources) of his or her identity" (1995, 137-8). More recently, however, Larry La Fountain-Stokes has challenged this timeline. In "Queering Latina/o Literature," La Fountain-Stokes contends that "it is crucial to look before 1963 (and even before 1959) to avoid a presentist attitude that limits literary debates to our contemporary period, and that by extension suggests that there were no gender transgressions, anxieties, same-sex loving Latina/o authors or representations worthy of our analysis before this time" (2016, 182-3).

(7) On Latin American nation-building and the literary conventions of racial and cultural whitening through mestizaje, see Sommer (1991).

(8) Depictions of early twentieth century New York as a relatively open and tolerant space are congruent with the historical record. George Chauncey's important work, in particular, has documented how New York was at the time "the 'gay capital' of the nation" (1994, 28), and a place where "countless men had moved to [...] in order to participate in the relatively openly gay life available there" (1994, 11).

(9) Less explicitly, his forename--Rozafel--phonetically connotes the phrase "felt-like-a-rose," a flower which in both religious and secular traditions is associated with the female.

(10) For more on Spanish-language gay argot and linguistically encoded homosexuality, see Smith and Bergmann (1995).

(11) Existing accounts of pre-1960s Hispanic New York present a rather heteronormative portrait of the community and questions of sexuality do not figure prominently. Instead, critics studying early Puerto Rican cultural production in New York have focused on issues of national identity and cultural resistance, see, for example, Irizarry Rodriguez (2011).

(12) The front-page of the September 1936 issue of Artes y Letras, which commemorated el Dia de la Raza, celebrated various Latin American men of letters as "glorias de la raza," among them Rodo. Other issues showcased Rodo's writings (see Rodo 1936). For more on Artes y Letras' championing of a Hispanist discourse of la raza, see Perez Jimenez (2016, 114-37); Schechter (2011, 105-13; 2014) Vera-Rojas (2014, 2015, 2016).

(13) This queering of nineteenth-century Latin American Hispanism can also be seen to have political dimensions. While influenced by Rodo, Caballero and his Artes y Letras colleagues overlooked Rodo's straight anti-imperialist critique of the U.S. Instead they took a more favorable view of the U.S. and advocated for the rather queer idea of the "Pan-Americanization of Puerto Rico," an early cultural prototype of the Puerto Rican Commonwealth status.

(14) I attribute these lines to Caballero, and not to a fictional narrator, because this opening chapter is deliberately written in the first person, as if Caballero himself was directly addressing the reader, before switching in the next chapter and for the rest of the novel to an omniscient third person narration.

(15) I should qualify that this defense of homosexuality was predicated on what Nadine Hubbs calls "old school homosexual worldviews," the notion that "homosexuality constituted an inborn, immutable stigma; a tragic accident of fate and nature; a damning originary wound that might, however, hold redemptive and beatific potential a la Wilde in De Profanais" (2004, 92).

(16) Like Caballero, Labarthe also travelled throughout Europe. A 1938 article in Hispania by Frances Douglas discusses Labarthe's European travels. As Chauncey explains, gay men who travelled to Europe "were likely to encounter a cultural and political climate for homosexuals that was almost unimaginable at home. By the time of World War I, there existed in Paris and Berlin a highly developed gay commercial subculture that easily surpassed the scale of the gay world in New York" (1994, 144).

(17) "PCW Spanish Professor Won't Be Back Next Year," Pittsburg Post-Gazette, May 10, 1954, 6. The phrase, of course, echoes Wilde's famous dictum of "a love that dare not speak its name." Interestingly, the narrator of Mary Smith references Wilde's homosexuality to underline that homosexuals should not be feared (Labarthe 1958, 286).

(18) The subheading for the aforementioned article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette was: "Faculty to Drop Labarthe Who Recently Announced Engagement to Rich Widow." In The Kane Republican, a brief, front-page article also published on May 10, 1954, was headlined "Fired Professor Opposed Action," and stated that the university president "confirmed the dismissal, but refused to elaborate upon the details." The article then noted that Labarthe had "recently announced his engagement to Mrs. James W. Henry, wealthy Pittsburg socialite and patron of the arts."

(19) These events were often mentioned in local newspaper The Pantagraph (see Party for Artist proves to be Cultural Soiree 1956).


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The author ( is an Assistant Professor of English at Manhattan College. She specializes in Caribbean and u.S. Latino/a literatures and cultures. Her current book project explores the emergence of a distinctive New York Latino cultural identity during the sociopolitical conjuncture of the 1930s and 1940s through appropriations of the era's transnational frameworks, including proletarian fraternalism, Pan-Americanism and anti-fascism.

Caption: Figure 1. Pedro Caballero dressed as a Moorish king, standing behind the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Artes y Letras, March 1935.

Caption: Figure 2. Photograph of Pedro Caballero's New York City studio apartment.

Caption: Figure 3. Photographs of Pedro Labarthe with his collection of masks, signed autographs, and other objet d'arts at his home in Bloomington, Indiana, The Pantagraph, July 24, 1955.

Caption: Figure 4. Cover of Pedro Caballero's Paca Antillana (1931), designed by the author.
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Author:Jimenez, Cristina Perez
Publication:CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1U0PR
Date:Jun 22, 2018
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