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Fronteras: 'My energy, my way' — Chicana playwright Monica Palacios reflects on her pioneering career as a queer performer

Monica Palacios, a playwright and solo performer, writes about queer, feminist and Chicana themes. Palacios’ shows focus on Latinx LGBTQ+ charterers and include “I Kissed Chavela Vargas,” “Browner Queerer Louder Prouder,” and “San Francisco, Mí Amor.”

She has earned several honors throughout her career, including the distinction as one of 41 Latinx role models in 2014 by nonprofit Latinx LGBTQ group Honor41.org, and the city of Los Angeles naming Oct.12 “Monica Palacios Day” in 2012.

But the road to her solo career was anything but smooth.

After coming out in college during an acid trip, Palacios recounted her start as a stand up comic during a contentious time for the LGBTQ community.

“I knew as a lesbian that I wasn't going to go to the straight club and do queer material. There's no way,” she said. “This is the 80s. This is when AIDS is coming out. And everybody is blaming queer people for it.”

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Monica Palacios is a playwright and solo performer. Her solo shows include "I'm Still Here," "San Francisco Mi Amor!", and "BRONWER QUEERER LOUDER PROUDER."

A confrontation with a bouncer at a California straight comedy club prompted Palacios transition from stand up to solo performance.

“It was this horrible experience … and it just made me realize, ‘I don't want to do this,'” she said. “I want to create a show that's about me and my space, under my energy, under my policies.”

Palacios’ latest show, “I’m Still Here,” takes a look back at stories from her childhood and teen years.

She will perform the show at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio on Oct. 14 and 15.

This is her first appearance at the center since 1998, when she participated in a fundraising effort after the city of San Antonio defunded the Esperanza over the type of programming offered.

Find more information about the show here. 

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Marian Navarro produces for Texas Public Radio's Morning Edition and Fronteras.