Thank you to everyone for expressing so much love and encouragement for this series after our debut feature with Maya. Your words of support have validated Portland's need to make space and promote artists of color.
Having worked on this series over the last few months and watched our featured artists' responses come in, I just want to thank these artists for being so open and vulnerable. It takes a lot to share such raw, personal experiences.
So much of our society's discourse confines these perspectives to silos— our discussions are either about race OR gender OR sexuality, when in fact, for many people these are inextricably linked. Today we have the pleasure of talking to Erin Ramona Martinez, a disabled queer trans Latinx music producer and guitarist.
Portland in Color | 002: Erin Ramona Martinez
Medium of choice: Guitar
Karaoke jam: "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" by The White Stripes
Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: Brand new in town, and somehow wound up at Not Enough Fest, played really loud in front of the largest totally queer audience and had the best time.
Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: Despite what people think about Portland, I felt far safer as a trans woman in Texas. I have been harassed and followed in the streets too many times to count over here— this is how people like me die. Twice in the last year I have been followed while a complete stranger shouted unsolicited hate speech at me and no one did anything about it in broad daylight. I just had to do my best to make sure they could not get close enough. Many passersby have also occasionally slipped in hateful word or too as well. I've had occasions at work in retail where people were rude and misgendered me on purpose because they knew they could get away with it. And finally I had a friend, who considers himself a true ally, carelessly out me to his mother. To which he then got offended when called out on it in a private conversation.
This seems to be a theme in Portland: a lot of people here have good intentions and proudly proclaim their support for the queer and trans community but are more often than not very bad at actually supporting those people. They seem to think that just because they are not an asshole it's no big deal if they casually misgender, use a slur, or even out someone. All that before we even go into my experiences as a Latinx over here.
Although I like Portland, I think the greatest affect it has on me as QTPOC is a deep feeling of isolation as the number of days that I have interacted with someone who is not white continues to grow.
How do you stay inspired in Portland? Despite all of the hardships I have had in Portland I am compelled to state that this city has given me opportunity that I have not had elsewhere. As a young trans women of color I arrived with my guitar, $180 in cash, and insurance that would not work in Oregon.
A couple of friends of mine were generous enough provide housing for up to three months.
Outside in helped me with OHP which gave me access to free health care in my time of need. The city provided me with food stamps which enabled me to use the funds I saved from the job I was hired at within a week of arriving for an apartment that I later moved into within two months.
I was eventually able to find some stability and even managed to legally change my name and gender marker with the resources within the city and some very good friends.
My journey is far from over and I am still inspired to work harder. Because of Portland, I am on my way to making more then $25k a year for the first time; a personal goal I have had since entering the workforce at the age of 16. Also I met my fiance here and they inspire me every day lol
How can the community support you? More queer events on Monday and Tuesdays.
Please consider supporting Erin directly by sending funds to her on Venmo. Check out more of her work on Facebook, Instagram, and www.erinramonamartinez.com.