By Sunny Leal
As a South Texas native living in the starkly different state of Washington, there weren’t many things around to remind me of home. But when I reached in my cupboards for a cup or a plate, I’d catch a little glimpse hometown comfort in the form of a tight shiny butt. Obviously there wasn’t an actual human rear end between the cheese grater and the colander; it was my family’s prized Selena glass. It was accepted knowledge in my family that the glass was modeled after the late Tejana singer Selena’s infamous backside. While we can never be sure if that was the truth, what’s more important was her influence in our day to day lives and in those of many other Texans.
With the talks of Selena’s possible hologram, the twentieth anniversary of her passing and her state-wide birthday celebrations today, many fans are taking the time to honor her memory and remember the way she has impacted our lives. There are a number of ways we can commemorate Selena, whether that be through blaring her songs, rewatching the Jennifer Lopez-led biopic for the hundredth time, or dancing and singing along in a room full of fellow fans as hundreds did this past Tuesday at Barbarella here in Austin.
It’s not every Tuesday night that you see lines stretching around street corners, but this Tuesday hundreds waited patiently to celebrate the true queen of Tejano music at TuezGayz’s third annual Selena tribute. But the wait was certainly worth it. The bar was packed tightly with Selena fans — many clad in her signature bustier — dancing, drinking and singing along to every word of her music as her image smiled down at them from her music videos. You could feel the love and positivity radiating through the crowd, as one might expect from a room of people honoring a woman who changed so many lives.
The event’s host, DJ and TuezGayz creator theGlitoris, crafted the tribute out of her own love for the late artist. “I created the event when I started DJing a few years ago out of my own adoration for Selena,” theGlitoris says, “I grew up with her music and have always included her in my sets… She was my Madonna, my Paula Abdul — except better because she was a Tejana like me.”
The cultural connection felt by theGlitoris holds true for many Texans. She provided positive representation for an ethnic group that didn’t have many popular figures in mainstream media. “Selena became an icon because she embodied the identity struggle that Mexican American youth had at the time,” University of Texas student Angela Cerrillo says, “She can be seen as symbolic of people stuck in the middle, culturally.”
The singer’s relatability surpasses her identity as a Texan, Mexican-American and the first female to truly break into the male dominated genre of Tejano music. “Selena was an amazing person, but she was also a minority trying to break into mainstream English markets,” theGlitoris. “The LGBT community relates to being a minority working towards equal opportunity.”
Whatever Selena means to you — equal cultural or social representation, a strong female role model or a funny childhood memory — there is a message her life and music can share with all of us. “The message is synonymous to Selena’s attributes, what she embodied as a person,” theGlitoris says. She passes on some Selena-inspired wisdom “Never give up on your dreams, stay positive, be kind to others and remember to laugh,” theGlitoris says, “People like you and I can achieve great things in life and make an impact.”
Join in the celebration of Selena's life at these other Austin events:
Selena cover group Bidi, Bidi, Banda will hold the Selena Birthday Celebration concert. Show starts at 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 at The ABGB. 1305 W. Oltorf St.