In the poem “Slow dance,” by Cherrie Moraga, the reader is met with a scene involving three women on a dance floor. Moraga, throughout the poem, uses language that suggests that she has been longing for the attention of a woman, however, has been forced to observe from the outside in as these women are not interested. Throughout the poem Moraga italicizes certain thoughts that highlight her desires and how she feels about them, including strong repetition of the words “want” and “that she can handle them” (Moraga 25). The repetition and italicization of these words and phrases places an emphasis on them that could have ambiguous meanings, however, I believe that Moraga is attempting to convey to these phrases and words bring up extremely intense emotion for Moraga.  

Moraga, as much of the LGBT+ community, likely experienced having to hide her own sexuality throughout her childhood and adulthood. This concealment makes it extremely difficult to date, often building up frustration and longing for emotional or physical connection within the person. This situation is all too familiar to much of the LGBT+ community, as many queer individuals also are forced to stay closeted for their own protection from their parents, friends, or community in general. This often can make one feel completely isolated and makes it incredibly difficult to find a partner. Moraga, throughout the poem, does an excellent job of conveying the intense desire caused by this concealment. The poem finishes with the powerful line, “I am used to imagining what it’s like.” This constant state of desire and imagining unfortunately plagues the LGBT+ community today, and Moraga conveys that using intense language and repetition of intense language. 

5 thoughts on “Chameleon”

  1. I really like your interpretation of the poem, especially your thoughts on the relevance for the LGBTQ community. As you are talking about the experience of queer people wanting to connect with other members of the community and experience their own physical and romantic connections, it reminded me of the lines ““I am used to being an observer. I am used to not getting what I want. I am used to imagining what it must be like.” from Cherrie Moraga. These lines connect really well with the ones you picked and, once again, show how hard it can be for queer people to only observe other people’s love and affection but not being able to experience it for themselves caused by a still not fully inclusive society.

    1. At the same time, I think your reasoning can be connected to something Jesse G. Monteagudo tells in Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian: “I recently made a very reluctant appearance at my sister’s second wedding, an event to which my lover was not invited” (165). When Cherrie Moraga express that conformism in the verses you both pointed out, it reminded me of him in the sense that it is not only the fact to long for loving and being loved without prejudices, but also experiencing everyday moments and events without any kind of problem just because you live the life you want with the person of your choice, independently of their sex.

  2. I appreciate your analysis of Moraga’s prose. I would even argue that her writing suggests feelings of internalized homophobia. By recalling her mother’s thoughts about a “real man”, an uncomfortable feeling is conveyed to readers. Either that could be a reaction to this homophobia, or simply an aversion to heteronormative ideals. From my personal experiences, I agree that many LGBTQ+ people are pushed to the side and left wondering what it is like, and Moraga’s word choice conveys this yearning.

  3. Before Moraga’s powerful paragraph/stanza at the end she states, “And I find you dancing with this other woman. My body both hers and yours in the flash of a glance”, which connects to these final lines.
    To be queer is to be forced to learn how to codeswitch, how to shapeshift, and to imagine “what it must be like”.

    I noted that it was an interesting decision to cut between the isolation Moraga feels watching these women and her mother reinforcing gender roles. Moraga repeats that “she can handle this”, but she doesn’t have the chance to prove that to her mother, or even herself. I think a lot of Moraga’s thoughts on her own identity, like many queer people’s, come from her parents. Moraga craves this control, craves a relationship, and is that because of her mother’s reinforcement of gender roles?

  4. I liked your blog post about “Slow Dance” because you were able to analyze Moraga’s words and put your personal thoughts in there as well. I think the relatability about what you said about LGBT+ kids staying closeted for their “protection from their parents, friends, or community in general” can be connected to Sedgewick’s “Queer and Now” where she talks about Christmas. Christmas is labeled one of the ‘happiest holidays of the year’ but sometimes makes LGBT+ children feel disconnected from their families and feel the weight of heteronormativity the most.

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