By Candise Branum
In Love & Rockets, Jaime Hernandez chronicles the lives of Margarita Luisa “Maggie” Chascarillo and Esperanza Leticia “Hopey” Glass from their years as underage punks living in Hoppers, a fictional primarily Latino barrio in California, through their early 40s. The Locas stories (which focused on Maggie, Hopey and their friends) had running storylines, most notably “The Death of Speedy Ortiz” and “Maggie,” but also contained some single page, “slice-of-life” stories. Though mostly realistic, early stories (especially the Mechanics storyline) contained science fiction elements such as dinosaurs and hovercrafts, while other periods focused on the often comical Mexican Wrestling circuit.
When we first meet Maggie she is crushed out on Race Rand, a mechanic that she occasionally works with, and her relationship with Hopey is undefined, and remains so throughout the entire series. The two have sex and live together, but Maggie constantly pursues relationships with men, while Hopey is always hooking up with women, often living with them but never settling down. In later years, Hopey lives with a steady girlfriend, but her infidelity and her inability to take life seriously causes her relationship to fall apart. The end of “The Education of Hopey Glass” shows a post-breakup Hopey beginning to finally mature by taking her work as a teacher’s assistant more seriously.
There is no “coming out” moment for Hernandez’s Locas girls; when we meet Hopey, she is already established as only dating women, while Maggie is assumed straight except for her relationship with Hopey. In later years though, Maggie pursues a relationship with a voluptuous female stripper named Vivian, showing that her desire for women is not just limited to Hopey. A large majority of Hopey and Maggie’s friends are lesbians or bisexual women, and even though both girls seem to shun labels, Hopey does not shy away from the fact that she only sleeps with women (one exception notwithstanding). The “gay community” that they encounter is very middle-class and white-centric, which Maggie feels very uncomfortable with. After overhearing two “art fags” making fun of her for being Mexican, Maggie becomes angry at Hopey for trivializing the event, saying “Shit, just ‘cause you can turn off your “ethnic” half whenever it’s goddamn convenient!” Maggie leaves Hopey and the white, queer world to return to her Latino community, where she does not feel threatened by racism but where her sexual identity is once again undefined. Even though Maggie, who feels the pressures from her family and community to live a traditional married life, shuns both her love of being a mechanic (a traditionally male occupation) and a queer label, she also does not want to be an invisible housewife and struggles to hold on to her punk identity. Many of their female friends from Hoppers also sleep with women, but the idea of a queer identity is seemingly a white, middle-class aesthetic that Maggie cannot truly inhabit.
Though they have been on-and-off lovers for over 20 years, Maggie and Hopey’s relationship remains undefined. They both continue to date other people, while sleeping with and attempting to remain best friends with one another; even during her brief marriage, Maggie continues to have a sexual relationship with Hopey. In the “Maggie” story-arc, Maggie believes she heard Hopey tell her over the phone (which was supposed to be broken at the time) that she loved her, something that had been unsaid throughout all of their years together. This causes tension, as Maggie really does want Hopey to declare it but is not sure if she just imagined it. When Hopey says it again, Maggie is relieved and tells Hopey that she also loves her.
All rights reserved Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez.