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Luisa Fernanda, fired for a word she didn’t know

(This was originally posted at The Bilerico Project by Alex Blaze)

From the Miami Herald-Sun:

With Spanish-language media under increased scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission, a Miami talk show has sharpened that fuzzy line to zero tolerance. Telemundo TV personality Luisa Fernanda, the Mexican host of the popular show Cotorreando (“Chattering”), was fired after she made an unintended slur against gays.

Fernanda used the Cuban word for grouper, cherna, which for Cubans has another meaning: a pejorative term for a gay man.

Talk about your slips of the tongue. Even though I’m familiar with several fun and not-so-fun words for queers in Spanish, it’s all from Argentine Spanish, a form of the language that has enough peculiarities to get its own dictionary on MS Word, separate from the unqualified “Spanish”. But I had never heard that cherna was offensive.But back to Fernanda. She claims she didn’t know that in Cuban Spanish the word “cherna” meant “faggot”. Since she’s of Mexican descent, and considering how varied slang is between Spanish-speaking countries, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she actually didn’t know.

Especially when taken in context:

Fernanda was dissecting the latest sex videotape scandal last month with co-host Mauricio Zeilic when she asked him if he would back her if she was attacked, and he said yes.

Fernanda then joked that if they were attacked by the feared Central American gang the ”Mara Salvatrucha” — Salvatrucha is Central American slang that includes the word trucha, or ”trout” — they could send in a different gang: the “Grouper of Hialeah.”

Andrés Duque points out how GLAAD has been paying special attention to a Luis Jiménez, a less ambiguously homophobic Univision Radio host, and suggests that Telemundo may have gone off the deep end here to avoid scrutiny.

Alex at Stuck on the Palmetto, who’s Cuban, confirms that it’s an anti-gay slur in Cuba and agrees with Duque’s sentiment in saying:

But what’s galling is that if Telemundo and other Spanish media really wants to look for examples of insensitive and stereotypical treatment of gays (or women, or minorities), all they have to do is turn on the TV or radio. Gays in Spanish media are invariably portrayed as the fey, screeching stereotype; always used for comic relief. As we say in Cuba, “qué cara más dura” (what a hard face!).

Actually, that expression made it all the way down to Argentina.

Telemundo doesn’t even have the support of GLAAD in this one, which must mean that they’re really, really off the mark:

“Luisa Fernanda has always collaborated with the Latin lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community”, GLAAD’s Mónica Taher told Peopleenespañ “She has been present in many GLAAD events.”

And elsewhere:

”We actually watched the clip, and the context wasn’t to insult gays and lesbians,” she said.

The Unity Coalition, a South Floridan LGBT Latino/a group, even honored her as “Queen for a Day” yesterday.

Honestly, taking this extreme and misguided measure to fire someone for a homophobic slur that she didn’t even know she said goes to show that Telemundo is reacting to a possible public perception of homophobia rather than an actual commitment to the advancement of equality along the lines of sexuality. If they actually had that sort of commitment, they would have a better understanding of the nuances of language related to belittling others to make the distinctions between Jiménez and Fernanda.

As Andrés puts it:

The firing of Luisa Fernanda from Cotorreando shows that these punitive actions are probably a passing trend rather than Latino media finally having found its “conscience.”


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