From middle class Guatemalan to U.S. gay Latino activist: Roland Palencia and queer oral history

This thesis documents Roland Palencia's voice, thoughts, and experiences growing up during the Civil War in Guatemala, immigrating to the U.S., and participating in LGBT and Latina and Latino community activism. The oral history spans Palencia's life from 1957 to 2014. As of 2014, he continues to dedicate his life to the empowerment of the Latina and Latino and LGBT community. Using queer oral history methods, I captured Palencia's memories of queer genders, sexualities, and desires (Boyd & Roque Ramírez, 2012). The analysis is informed by the concept of "intersectionality," which explores "distinct systems that resemble one another on some dimensions and differ from one another on others" (Collins, 2000). Thus, in this thesis intersectionality includes class, race, and sexuality and how they affect immigration, homophobia, racism, and Transphobia. Roland's life story is framed by a brief review of the literature on the Guatemalan Civil War, immigration, LGBT "coming out" stories, homophobia, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the formation of the first gay Latino community based organizations in Los Angeles.