Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography
An Honor Book for the 2023 Stonewall Book Award—Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Book Award
This witty memoir traces a touching and often hilarious spiralic path to embracing a gay, Latinx identity against a culture of machismo—from a cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to cities across the U.S.—and the bath houses, night clubs, and drag queens who help redefine pride
I’ve always found the definition of machismo to be ironic, considering that pride is a word almost unanimously associated with queer people, the enemy of machistas . . . In a world desperate to erase us, queer Latinx men must find ways to hold on to pride for survival, but excessive male pride is often what we are battling, both in ourselves and in others.
A debut memoir about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man, High-Risk Homosexual opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: Edgar Gomez’s uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at thirteen years old to become a man. Readers follow Gomez through the queer spaces where he learned to love being gay and Latinx, including Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual.”
With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself he was taught to keep hidden. His story is a scintillating, beautiful reminder of the importance of leaving space for joy.
In this crackling debut, Gomez recounts his coming-of-age as a queer man, passionately exploring what it means to celebrate one's identities and to make space for joy in the most unlikely places. "In a world desperate to erase us, queer Latinx men must find ways to hold on to pride for survival," he writes, "but excessive male pride is often what we are battling, both in ourselves and in others." In essays packed with dry wit and searing cultural insight, Gomez blows open this paradox as he contends with the difficulties and traumas of compulsory heterosexuality that were forced upon him growing up in his Nicaraguan family. He brings readers on an exhilarating trip through his teens in Central America, where bloody cockfights at his uncle's bar pulsated with machismo; reflects on meeting a group of encouraging trans sex workers, whose simple freedom both terrified and enticed him as a young gay person; recounts his awkward attempts to navigate hookup culture in his early 20s in Florida; and reflects on how taking PrEP instantly labeled him medically as a "high-risk homosexual." The result transcends a simple coming-out story to instead offer a brilliant and provocative interrogation of sex, gender, race, and love.