1948 - 1990
"I couldn't stand the repressive atmosphere of Puerto Rico. I had realized that New York was a city where I could live without feeling persecuted all the time. In Puerto Rico, I felt too much persecution because of the openness of my sexuality."
- Manuel Ramos Otero
Puerto Rican writer Manuel Ramos Otero is widely considered to be one of the most important openly gay twentieth-century Puerto Rican writers. Throughout his literary career, Ramos Otero boldly put his homosexuality at the core of his poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Feeling repressed and persecuted in his homeland because of the openness of his sexuality, he left Puerto Rico and relocated to New York City in 1968. He received his M.A. in Literature from New York University in 1979. Using self-reflective protagonists – gay Puerto Rican male writers living in New York City – Ramos Otero explored the rough edges of the city’s gay subculture: a world of drugs, hustlers, prostitution, and the dark sexual playgrounds to be found beneath the rotting piers of the Greenwich Village/Chelsea waterfront of the 1970s and 1980s. Much of his work – often controversial for its sexual and political content – has yet to be translated from Spanish into English. Ramos Otero taught at Rutgers University, York College, LaGuardia Community College, and Lehman College. He also established a small publishing house, El Libro Viaje (The Book Trip) which published his highly experimental 1976 novel La novelabingo (The Bingo Novel). In addition to being a writer, Ramos Otero fostered and strengthened the literary community by helping to organize conferences and gatherings of Puerto Rican writers in the U.S. Ramos Otero is remembered for his well-regarded short stories as well as his poetry volumes El libro de la muerte (1985), which includes his Epitaphios cycle of poems, and Invitacion al polvo (1991). He was also the author of several essays on literary criticism. He died from AIDS in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 7, 1990. He was 42.
Sexual Orientation Gay
Gender Identity Cisgender
Nations Affiliated Puerto Rico United States
Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present) Information Age (1970-present)
Field(s) of Contribution