Main | Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Miami TV Host Fired For Accidental Slur

Luisa Fernanda, a television personality on Miami's popular Spanish-language Cotorreando show, has been fired by the station's parent company, Telemundo, for inadvertently using a disparaging slang word for gay men. Fernanda, who is Mexican, did not know that in Cuban Spanish the word for grouper, "cherna", is considered a pejorative term for a gay man. Telemundo fired Fernanda on June 22nd, saying her language was "inconsistent with the company's culture and its respect for diversity."

On one hand, you have to admire Telemundo for attempting to police hate speech with their zero tolerance policy. Spanish radio in particular which has long been the wild, wild west of the American airwaves, often featuring cruel song parodies at the expense of LGBT people. But Luisa Fernanda IS a friend of the community. She has appeared as a presenter at a GLAAD event and has advocated on-air for marriage equality. GLAAD issued a statement expressing their puzzlement and disappointment with Fernanda's dismissal.

In a polyglot Latin culture like Miami, one is always reminded that slang words often mean different things in different countries. As I recall, a "papaya" is a refreshing tropical fruit to some Spanish-speakers in Miami, but to Cubans - it means pussy. Specifically, your mama's pussy, if the insult is properly delivered. It can be very confusing.

Luisa Fernanda is seeing a swelling of support from LGBT folks in Miami, including by the local gay Latino civil rights group, Unity Coalition, which is hosting her at a nightclub as their "queen for a day". Hopefully the brass at Telemundo will reconsider this wrongful firing.

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