In Honor of Horacio N. Roque Ramírez, Part 2: Remembering the Life and Work of Horacio N. Roque Ramírez: A Roundtable

AHA Session 113
Oral History Association 2
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 4
Friday, January 6, 2017: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Mile High Ballroom 1A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level)
Nan Alamilla Boyd, San Francisco State University
Jennifer Brier, University of Illinois at Chicago
Marla Ramirez, San Francisco State University
Nan Alamilla Boyd, San Francisco State University

Session Abstract

Horacio N. Roque Ramírez was a beloved friend, teacher, mentor, and colleague for many scholars in queer and Latina/o/x history, and a crucial, groundbreaking voice in charting their intersection. This roundtable is one of three on Horacio’s life and work submitted to the AHA 2017 and co-sponsored by the Committee on LGBT History and the Oral History Association. It brings together five scholars to share personal reflections on his life, scholarship, and activism, and what working with Horacio meant to them.

Horacio’s scholarship was intimately bound to his personal history. Born in El Salvador, he was twelve when his family immigrated to California. As an undergraduate at UCLA, he was a co-founder of the Latin American Students Association, and went on to receive an MA from UCLA in history in 1994, and a PhD from UC Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality in 2001. It was as a graduate student that he began the work for which he may be best known—tracing the history of queer Latina/o/x communities and politics in San Francisco from the 1960s through the 1990s. Drawing on extensive oral histories, Horacio’s many articles and book chapters, as well as a book manuscript, made space for the voices and experiences of queer Latina/o/x people, and raised larger questions about how individuals come to see themselves as a part of a community. Horacio went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA and to a faculty position in Chican@ Studies at UC Santa Barbara. 

Nan Alamilla Boyd will serve as chair and commenter. Boyd knew Horacio as a friend and a collaborator: they co-edited the volume Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History(Oxford 2012). As Boyd recently recalled, “We also had similar and overlapping personal and professional experiences, both as historians working in identity-based interdisciplinary fields (Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies), and as outsiders in the academic machine…. Methodologically, we prioritized oral history work, and both of us felt an almost paralyzing sense of responsibility toward the communities represented in our work.”

The first two panelists will discuss their relationships with Horacio as colleagues. Marcia M. Gallo will reflect on her many conversations with Horacio on the practice, ethics, and intimacy of queer oral history. Jennifer Brier will reflect on Horacio’s generosity during their overlapping work tracing the history of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco. The next two panelists will reflect on their relationships with Horacio as students. Marla A. Ramírez worked with Horacio from undergraduate into graduate school—as a senior at UCLA, it was Horacio who encouraged her to apply to the Chican@ Studies Ph.D. Program at UC Santa Barbara, where she continued to work with him. William A. Calvo-Quirós also studied with Horacio at UC Santa Barbara, and served as a research assistant on the study, “Social Values and Discrimination Practices Against HIV+ Individuals in Mexico.” He will reflect on Horacio’s many interventions, especially as an oral historian and a legal expert for asylum cases based on sexual orientation or gang violence.