Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing


Jeffrey Sirkin


Standing at the Back of the Bar is a collection of semi-autobiographical literary pieces, a hybrid of lyrical essays, poetry, and short stories, that are based on life experiences of the author, Lawrance Cuellar. The book begins with stories of the narrator growing up as a gay Latino in the very conservative, West Texas town of Amarillo in the 1960s and 1970s. The narrator describes and expresses the normalized and internalized homophobia and racism he experienced in the city. As the title for the manuscript implies, he is expected to “stand at the back of the bar” in deference to the white patrons at the only gay bar in town. When the AIDS epidemic emerges in the 1980s, the narrator seeks refuge in Austin, Texas, just as the epidemic is exploding in the white gay community. In Austin, the narrator begins to unlearn the discriminatory and destructive messages that were implanted in his belief system. As he joins efforts to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus in the Latinx and people of color communities, he begins to see that the racism that exists in the gay community is affecting the resources available to serve his community. Again, he feels as though his Latinx community and other communities of color are left “standing at the back of bar” because HIV resources are focused only on organizations serving the white gay communities. The legacy of the racism in the gay community that has existed since the 1970s is evidenced today by high incidence of HIV in gay Latinx and Black communities. The lack of attention and resources that these communities needed to fight the disease were kept in the white AIDS service organizations, which were inept at serving the people of color communities. The outcome of this disparity was the demise of community based Latinx and Black AIDS service organizations.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

132 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Lawrance Cuellar

Included in

Public Policy Commons