Grace Towers is a queer, first generation, Mexican-American artist based in San Francisco. They describe their art as a form of resistance against gender norms. Grace is featured in En Cuatro, a film project Hornet created in collaboration with Leo Herrera. The film explored queer Latino sexuality and Grace’s performance was authentic and a radical challenge of gender norms, proving all gender expressions can be sexy. We spoke with Grace about the film, drag and her inspiration.
What was your experience making this film En Cuatro? Why was it important to be a part of it?
Making this film was fun and intimate and intentional. It was sexy and super casual. I felt safe to be myself. I was just having a chela con la comadre. Representation and connection makes me feel safe. I know that when a Latinx person sees this who relates to my journey, they will feel a little more supported and seen. I see you and thank you for being witness to my journey.
For over 35 years queer Latino sexuality has been entangled with disease. How do we express Latino sexuality in the absence of disease?
Conversations are changing and sexuality and disease are no longer always used in the same sentence. When we don’t have the overwhelming experience of associating sexuality with disease we are free to explore, thrive, feel, and simply be.
Drag has always been a critical way to dismantle machismo. How does your drag do that?
My drag is a form of resistance against gender and binary norms. I use this platform to present opportunities of growth and expansion. My wish is for you to experience the spectrum and fluidity of hyper-femme and hyper-masculine aesthetics in one instant. I want us to question what it is to be ‘machista‘. Where does machismo live without gender? How deep is gender a part of what I actually choose to believe? May I unlearn what I have understood about gender? Could fluidity between both genders really exist? Can we have one without the other?
You have a unique and authentic look and style, what have been your cultural influences?
I grew up performing for my abuelos, primos, tíos and tías. Our garage was always a makeshift theater for me. I also grew up in front of the telenovela screen while my parents were out working in the lettuce fieIds of the central coast of California. I developed my on- and off-stage vibes by calling upon all my favorite kweens. These are some of my angels and how they inform me:
- El Sason de Celia Cruz
- La Voz de Chavela Vargas
- Los Looks de Jenny Rivera
- La Pasión de Ana Gabriel
- La Finesa de Maria Felix
- La Picardia de Laura Leon
- El Humor de La Chilindrina
- La Sensilles de Mari Mar
- La Curiosidad de Rosa Salvaje
- La Inocensia de Selena
- Lo Chingon de Gloria Trevi
Also, Walter Mercado was the first drag queen I ever saw get away with it. They taught me about being a powerful WITCH! Also Juan Gabriel. “Lo que se ve no se pregunta,” and “De eso no se habla.” They taught me not to talk about my emotions towards the same sex and how to repress my expression. Toxic cultural behaviors I’m still unlearning every day.
How can we express gender fluidity during sex?
We can express gender fluidity by actively fucking with gender norms. Don’t be afraid to shake things up! Grunt, scream, squeal! Wear a pair of heels with a harness. Let go of the norms associated with Bottoming vs. Topping. Just be you. You deserve GREAT SEX!
How do we use the power of genderqueer to transform conventional beauty standards?
Be beautiful and bold. Stand out and lead by example.
We are living through a fiercely anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant, and anti-queer administration. How is queer Latino sexuality a form of resistance?
#ExistenceIsResistance. Being the genderfucking, Spanish-speaking, brown QPOC artist IS a political statement or resistance. We are not going anywhere.