An Interview with Luis Godinez

EDIT [oct 21, 2015]: You can find the original drawings of Luis’ Recreations here

Luis Godinez is a 17-year old Mexican living in America. He is part of two worlds and through his art, fashion, and simply being himself he is able to live in both of them.

As the photographer shoots Luis, he’s stiff and hesitant. If you had been there watching him you would be able to see just how nervous the boy was. He chuckles softly when the man behind the camera directs him to do a position. I watch intensely knowing that I have to truly know Luis more than he knows himself if I want to get this interview right. He walks around the art room - a room in which he spends every day in yet is cautious with every step he takes- and positions himself in some of the art pieces that he’s been a part of.  “Try to relax yourself,” the photographer says behind the camera and Luis’ laugh becomes a bit louder and on the contrary, I see him become a bit stiffer. He trifles on though and the more he walks around that room with paint on the floor, he slowly begins to relax.

Once the photographer has taken all the shots he needs, I lead Luis outside to a table.  It’s hot and we hide from the beaming sun under a tree. He seems to be much more nervous than before for he knows I’ll begin asking him questions. He sets his things down and nervously rubs the palms of his hands on his pants. His nervous smile becomes bigger once the questions start and he begins to think about his words before stating “When people meet me they need to know that sometimes I know I often come out as a bit too much. The way I express myself can be a bit overwhelming because I care about what people see. Not necessarily for their eyes, but for my own…if that makes sense.” He goes back to being quiet and there’s a bit of silence as he continues to think about what to say next. Luis starts off with a slight stutter before saying “I care about how I look, but I care for more than simply how I look. I care about my friends, my family, my art.”

If one were to go on Luis’ instagram and tumblr everything seems to be alike. Everything seems to be alike and different from each other. When I bring it up he’s quick to say “I like how everything looks externally. Yeah, it may not be important to other people, but everyone cares about something. You can care about your grades, your  makeup, and so many things, but me I simply happen to care about the pictures, the art, and how I look.” He says every word with hesitance as if one thing he’ll say will hurt someone. “I don’t know,” Luis says shaking his head and chuckling softly “I just like… I like having a nice feed, when everything comes together it just looks so right. Each three pictures in a row I just try to make it the same because…I like people knowing the beauty I put in everything. I don’t know, but…I want to maybe become a photographer or maybe a drawer, I don’t know. I just want to be in art, because drawing or photography whichever it is, they both capture  moments in life. Take a picture of a sky, draw a picture of a field. You feel just how relax it is and the beauty of it is that you can go back to that piece of art one day and remember those exact emotions you once felt.”

When asked about his clothes, Luis looks down at his outfit and chuckles as if what he’s wearing is simple. “I’m wearing a denim button-up short sleeved shirt from Cotton On and skinny jeans from Tilly’s. My style is very what you see on the internet, what celebrities are wearing. I do try to dress with current trends, but I also put my own self in it? People put this negative connotation on trends and with trends you can always put yourself in it. From then on it’s not a trend anymore it’s you.” I then begin to start asking questions about being Mexican for Luis was born in Mexico and brought to America as a child. He doesn’t put on a scared face or even put on hesitance, on the contrary he begins to talk as if he already knew the answer. “Being Mexican, doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I feel as if people expect me to be this sad immigrant that doesn’t understand this country. I love being Mexican, I take pride in being Mexican. There’s not many people today who are immigrants and by people I mean the young ones. I’m 17 years old and I wasn’t born in this country. That’s not very heard of today or at least it’s not spoken about a lot,” he continues to talk and it’s almost as if the the nervousness, the hesitance has vanished. “I see the world a bit different than others. My mom sees the world as born in Mexico and raised in Mexico. I see the world as born in Mexico and raised in America. I’m part of both of these different worlds, these different countries. I love it, but then there’s those moments. Sometimes people say jokes about me and I…”he stops himself right then and the silence speaks louder than words. Luis takes a deep breath and says “I have limits because I wasn’t born here and that…bothers me. People should be able to do the same amount in every country. Just because I wasn’t born here doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get the same rights.” I then begin to ask about his sexuality and by this time Luis Godinez has changed from the hesitant stiff boy to a quick answer confident person he is. “Being gay and being Mexican -Latino in general- can be a scary thing. When I came out it was a mixture of good and bad. My friends accepted me with open arms and were there for me, their own parents were there for. My mom…didn’t accept me. She was raised to believe being gay was this horrible thing, but at the end…I was still okay. I had my friends. I at least had someone who was there for me,” he smiles again and this time it is not a smile filled with hesitance or nervousness, but a smile filled with a bit of happiness. The interview comes to an end and I ask Luis Godinez one more simple question.

“What would you tell those readers that are part of the LGBTQ community and are Latinx immigrants as well or simply Latinx?”

“Take up something. Rather it’s art, sports, music, anything. Pick it up and try it. Show the world the pain you feel and see. Come out and be you, and I assure you there will be someone that will be there for you. My mom didn’t accept me, but my friends were there and my art was there. I had someone, I had something to reassure myself that I wasn’t alone. Do not listen to those ignorant assholes. Whether you’re gay, lesbian, bi, Trans, just know to stick with the positive and ignore all the negativity around you.”

Luis Godinez: Tumblr Instagram

Alexis Espinoza (Photographer): Tumblr Instagram