It's been nine years since Tucson-born Dan Guerrero staged his one-man show, "¡Gaytino!," in Tucson and in that time his hometown's Chicano community has gone through another round of taking up the good fight, between the state's SB 1070 and anti-Mexican-American studies law.
The early history of that ever-evolving good fight and the racism that comes with it, is part of Guerrero's "¡Gaytino!" After all, the son of Tucson music legend Lalo Guerrero, considered the father of Chicano music, has had a front-row seat in the middle of Chicano history since he was a young boy growing up in Los Angeles. But there's another side to Guerrero, the story of growing up gay and living and working in New York City during the height of the gay rights movement.
In "¡Gaytino!," both of those stories come together and from his LA home, Guerrero told the Tucson Weekly that it made sense to him that those stories be told together.
"There's always been an interconnection with Chicano history and LGBT history," he recalled.
"The first gay pride was in 1970 and on the other side of the country the Latino Moratorium, that was when (journalist) Ruben Salazar was killed during the march. Chicano and gay communities came out of the closet at the same time and both stood up and said this is who we are, accept us."
Both communities have seen so much progress and at the same time a racism and anti-gay sentiment that continues to cause challenges, but what's wonderful now for the 74-year-old performer is that as he continues to stage the show, he gets opportunities to meet many Latino LGBT youth who are doing important work for both communities.
"They are gaytinos, and it's good to know they are there and that this other generation continues," he said.
While telling his own story and family history, in "¡Gaytino!," Guerrero said he also tells the history of both communities using visual projections on the stage, from Cesar Chavez' funeral to his early work as a 20-year-old in NYC, and then there is one in particular that means the world to Guerrero—his father's last bow at a Tucson performance six months before his death in March 2005 at the 30th anniversary of the youth mariachi program, Los Changuitos Feos. Guerrero happened to be in Tucson recently performing at the 50th anniversary.
Guerrero said ties to his hometown have always remained strong. The family moved to LA for his father to pursue his music career, but with both sides of his family with strong familiar ties, he and his brother Mark visited with his parents often.
"I grew up hearing stories about the Casino Ballroom and the Blue Moon ... everyone knew each other. (My mother and father) had so much love for their hometown and they instilled that in me which is why I still come here. My roots are very deep here. I love it."
The stories in "¡Gaytino!" also reflect the chapters of Guerrero's life as a performer; an agent representing actors in New York, such as 11-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker; directing and producing live shows and TV, like the "Paul Rodriguez Show"; to writing and developing "¡Gaytino!," and now his recent appointment as a Regent Lecturer with the UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies and the LGBT Department.
"I was a Chicano activist for 20 years and when I moved back to LA in the early '80s that when I got involved with LGBT issues," he said. "Even though '¡Gaytino!' is autobiographical, this is not my story. This really is Chicano and gay history from a personal point of view."
Besides the history, there are two figures that take the stage with Guerrero in his show—his late father and the late Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz, a dear childhood friend of Guerrero's who was a huge influence in the actor's life.
While in Tucson for the show, Guerrero will be one of the grand marshals in the LGBT Freedom Parade, one of two Pride parades happening that week.
"It's the gayest week of my life, I'm going to perform "¡Gaytino!" and then be one of the grand marshals for the Tucson LGBT Freedom Parade and then make remarks at an AIDS awareness dinner at El Casino Ballroom," he said.
"And it happens in Tucson, my hometown."
"¡Gaytino!," is Thursday, Oct. 9 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., doors open at 7 and show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. For more info on the show, go to www.¡Gaytino!.com. For tickets, go to rialtotheatre.com.