Dossier: Pedro Lemebel
Works by and about Pedro Lemebel in LALT No. 2:
"On January 23, 2015, Pedro Lemebel (Pedro Segundo Mardones Lemebel) finally lost his fight with the larynx cancer that had left him voiceless for two years. The great gay Chilean performer and crónica writer, born in 1955 in a poor neighbourhood of Santiago called El Zanjón de la Aguada, had referred to his own cancer-produced plight with characteristic humor: 'See how life is . . . I was always running away from AIDS and then cancer got me. (...) It has been just another sickness, nothing to die for anyway and I do not think of it as a macabre stigma. Maybe I will get to write about it someday.'"
"To remember. To remember the dead. To honor a death. The Latin expression memento mori interweaves the two acts: that of remembering post mortem and that of choosing an object to invoke this experience: a sign. For some it’s a lock of hair, for others the very bones of the dead. The relics of the saints. The remains of the disappeared. Objects dispossessed from the body, or absent bodies recovered through the fetish of their imago: skulls, an hourglass, a contorted skeleton, cadavers posing for the camera, hanging off their mourning relatives."
"After rejecting dozens of invitations to literary gatherings and interview requests from international media, the most acerbic chronicler of Latin America sat down for this interview, one of the last he gave, to talk about his early years, Vallejo, Chile today, and, of course, his loves."
"This kind of chronicle shows us an author who incubated the origin of his literature since childhood. His was the marginal. Lemebel was the voice of the defenseless, prostitutes, children of the underworld, the unemployed, transvestites, the HIV-positive. His writing, rather than baroque, as many have branded it, is more barrosa, muddy, as he himself often declared. The writer exhibited his literary style like an indelible stain that provoked a sting from his detractors and boundless passion from his faithful public."
"To tell our story from our difference, our discomfort: without it there will not be a true gay or queer community on the Island, because telling the story of our pain will help us to not repeat it. 'For Norge, with emotion,' he simply wrote as a dedication in my copy of My Tender Matador. It’s with that queer emotion that I want him to return to Havana, to hear the tapping of his wounded, yet unrelenting, footsteps of a wounded warrioress on the cobblestones of the Plaza Vieja."
"And if I were to say that I saw the first light of the world in the Waters of Zanjón, who would care? To whom would it matter? Except to those who confuse the name with that of a Spanish romance novel. Still less to those who don’t know, nor will ever know, what this arid plot of Chilean poverty was, surely peerless among the occupied lands, encampments, and fractious neighborhoods in the surroundings of what is now Greater Santiago."
"Like clouds pearled with gestures, blushes, and contempt, the gay menagerie would appear in constant flight from its own identity. They have neither a single name nor an exact geography that delimits their desires, their passions, their furtive divagations through the night’s happenings, where they run into each other as if by chance, where in greeting they inevitably invent badges and nicknames that speak to small cruelties, funny anecdotes, and zoomorphic caricatures."