Rigoberto González

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Rigoberto González in 2014

Rigoberto González (born July 18, 1970) is an American writer and book critic. He is an editor and author of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual children's books.



Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (2006)

ISBN 029921900
  • After a while the other students in class began to notice I had become Ms. Burnett's favorite, but no one resented me for it. I was the shy, quiet kid in the back who had arrived from México a few years before and who turned out to be an accomplished speller. I became the school Spelling Bee champion, beating out the eighth graders as well, with the word “lapidary.”
  • Most memorable was the day before the mass, at confession.
I stuttered, mumbled, and cleared my throat repeatedly but managed to reveal what I needed to confess: use of offensive language, disrespect for my elders, masturbation, jealousy, envy, rage—the typical wrongdoings of a fourteen-year-old Catholic boy. I didn't dwell on any details and neither did the priest ask for them. When I stepped out of the church that afternoon I was supposed to feel liberated, absolved, cleansed. But I felt none of those things as I was greeted by the blinding glare of the summer sun. Behind me the stone saints whispered among themselves the sacrilege that was my incomplete confession. I had not told the priest everything. How could I tell him that the holiness of prayer was powerless before my fury of desire for other males?—a sin, according to the Catholic Church.
  • Their beloved priest must now wander for all eternity chained to this earthly purgatory—a warning to all that God forgives only that which is confessed to Him through true repentance and atonement. I walked down the church steps, keeping my secret stitched to my tongue. After the ceremony I would have no one to answer for my yearnings but myself, even if after my death I would have to lag behind that priest until the end of days, a pair of branded souls dragging the heavy burdens of their sins, like cows roaming the foggiest dawns, the first guiding the second with its dangling rosary of a tail.
  • My four years of high school were spent locked up inside “el campo.” I became a voracious reader and television-watcher, keeping to myself at such alarming extremes that I became invisible. My invisibility provided the perfect protection against harm of any sort. I walked to and from school past the gangsters as silently as a breeze, so disassociated from their tattoos and lingo that even they couldn't find a place for me in their lines of vision.
  • I sought out clandestine affairs of my own, which wasn't hard in a Mexican community, where it's possible to be a fag and not a fag. Men satisfy their urges secretly, confident that their public sexuality displaces any suspicion or speculation about their private one.
  • I had flings with married men or men with girlfriends, with men who had children, sometimes as old as I was. They went to church on Sunday, drank beer, and eyed the teenage girls in gym shorts. They appreciated a good woman-on-woman porno. They showed me photographs of their fiancées and sent me wedding invitations.
  • In high school the approaching graduation was stirring up excitement among the seniors. I didn't care much for any of it since I couldn't afford any of the mementoes or activities offered for completing the four years. I had not attended the prom or the senior trip, had not purchased a class ring or letterman's jacket or the yearbook—had not even taken my senior portrait—and I wasn't about to attend the ceremony we had been rehearsing all week.
When I parked the car in the school parking lot, I opened the door, set one foot on the ground, and then thought how ridiculous this was, arriving to my graduation alone, without a single family member cheering from the stands, without a close friend sitting near me on the rows of 650 chairs arranged on the football field for the graduating class. I pulled my foot back into the car and drove down to my aunt's in the neighboring town.
  • I know what he means: the taste of language that is only spoken and never written because the speaker most likely doesn't read or write. My father has it, too.
  • Funerals in México are also about drowning sorrow with liquor. The coffee is spiked with tequila
  • I think, How clever time works, overlapping people's lives at certain stages, and as some eyes are waking up, others are already closing, securing the continuity of the world. My mother and I were connected for twelve years. She also lived during a time I didn't exist. And I, in turn, must now keep living when she does not. And yet my father, who still shares the same wheel of time, is more like my parallel line.
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