The Law of Love

Reviewed by Alex Gomez

This is my second reading of this book. On the first, I was left terribly angry and disappointed. Never in my life had I read so much homophobic drivel, all in one place. Who does this woman think she is, to be writing and publishing such an anti-gay and anti-lesbian book? Who dares to publish something so incendiary? How can she say that Tantra and tantric sex is only for straight people? Gay men and yes, even lesbians can have penetrative sex! How can she write that people who have accumulated much bad karma in a past life are bound to be born homosexual in this one?

Imagine my surprise at my second reading, which I undertook completely prepared to take that bitch Esquivel down, with my newly refined counter.-homophobic articles and sayings, during which I found none of the homophobia that had so repulsed me before?  Absolutely none. Was it possible that I was reading a new, very recently-revised and published edition? I had to admit, it was not. Was it  then possible that, during my first reading of Esquivel’s The Law of Love, I had imposed my own, much-thwarted judgment upon it? It was! And I had!

When I travelled back in time, to when I had first read The Law of Love, I went back almost all the way to my university days in Canada, which I left for Puerto Vallarta in 1995, the same year that Laura Esquivel’s La Ley del Amor was published by the Grijalbo Editorial group, here in Mexico. In the first instance, I was correct to go back to university, where I did a major in Political Studies, and became embroiled in and practiced  Identity Politics for the first time. It turned out that studying Politics, mostly political theory and philosophy, and simultaneously practicing Identity Politics proved to be too much for me; it led to a nervous breakdown and my subsequent abandonment of and flight from Canada not two weeks later.

At the University I had attended, I was faced with more racism and homophobia than ever before. So almost automatically joined the Anti-Racist Committee, and became the Liasion for the GLobE group (which stood for Gay, Lesbian and oh! Bisexual Equality.

In other words, I joined up with  other student activists that I felt were representing my self-interests, being oppressed in the same way I was. I had suddenly acquired a measure of political power and a stronger voice as well. Then came the moment when I heard from a close friend and political ally that some outside activist groups were insisting that it was impossible for queer people of colour to exist!

And as Liaison of GLoBE, I was more or less forced to take on the inadequacy of the group’s name, pointing out that we now had to add a T for  transgender and transsexuals. Therefore I pushed for the adoption of queer, a reclaimed word from our homophobic past, now re-charged and positive in its inclusion of anyone not exclusively heterosexual. Also, I took my cue from the former woman liaison, who happened to be my best friend in those days, and changed the location of the monthly gay dance to a closer venue (in consideration of the women who had to travel there by bus and then walk a mile or two in the dark to get there). I fired the white woman who had served as the dance’s DJ almost forever and assigned DJ’s of colour in order to attract more queers of colour to the dance. It all worked out stunningly well. Or so I thought, until  the end of the dance when a number of drunken and irate white men came up to me and surrounded me and began to let loose their frustration and discomfort with my changes to the traditional dance.

At that point, I was too drunk myself for rational argument, and all I can remember is telling one of my new enemies that he looked “a lot like Fabio.”


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