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Baruch Porras Hernandez

Man of the Week: Writer-Performer Baruch Porras Hernandez

Baruch Porras Hernandez is anything but average. A hilariously brilliant writer-performer, and fantastic comic book artist, his work is poignant and entertaining. Born in Toluca, Mexico and raised in the Bay area, 37-year-old Porras Hernandez, in his own words, is “one of the very last remaining working class queers living in San Francisco grabbing on for dear life just to annoy all the billionaires.”

The award-winning writer is also the host of ¿Donde Esta Mi Gente? Latinx Literary Series, a regular KQED Arts host, and the Voice of Shipwreck SF Erotic Fan Fiction Competition and podcast.

CHUBSTR: What first drew you to writing and performing?
BHP: I wrote my first poem when I was 12, I had no one to talk to about being queer and how painful it was to hide it. So, like a good, sad 90s kid, I started writing poems to all the guys I had agonizing unrequited crushes on.

When I was in high school, a guy I was secretly in love with asked me to be his scene partner for an audition. I was cast in the play and tried to pull out. Then I realized I was going to be able to spend more time with him, so I was like, “well I guess I’m an actor now.”

After working as an actor for years after graduating, I was getting quite bored with performing someone else’s words. I decided to only perform stuff I write, so I got into spoken word, solo performance, playwriting, standup comedy, and storytelling. I’ve had much more fun doing that than acting, but I do miss stage acting sometimes.

CHUBSTR: How would you describe your work?
BPH: I describe my work as a hilarious dynamic performance from a sexy, fat Mexican – like if a marshmallow came to life and told you funny poems. I have published several poems in anthologies all over the U.S., but I also write a lot of humor and some non-fiction. I also do standup comedy – that is very fun. I’m currently working on a book of poetry, a novel, and a superhero project in San Jose.

A lot of people have been talking about my doodles, (but I guess people are calling them online comics,) “Tiny Blessing, with TinyBaruch.” I’m honestly very surprised people have paid this much attention to them, and are as moved as they say they are. It’s super surprising because it is just little drawings of myself that I do on small tiny notebooks. I do them quickly with a pen while waiting for food, or sitting on the bus, or in bed when I wake up and I’m waiting for a roommate to get out of the shower.

Tiny Baruch loves life, loves you, and wants you to win, he believes in you.

The first one I made was to keep from ripping my hair out. I had had the worst day off ever. It was especially bad because full-time artists with full-time day jobs almost never get days off. I described the terrible day with little drawings on a small note pad. The drawings are of a tiny version of myself, the art is inspired by my deep love of Adventure Time art, Steven Universe Art, The Oatmeal and my all-time favorite Hyperbole and a Half. The second one I did was just drawings of bad dates I’ve been on in the past, that I had to basically end in the middle of the date.

People LOVED them and flipped out. Now I draw tiny Baruch when I need a break from working on my novel, or need to relax and just doodle something quick before going to bed. The art is messy because I do them in like five minutes. Tiny Baruch loves life, loves you, and wants you to win, he believes in you.

CHUBSTR: How does your queer Latinx identity inform your writing?
BPH: It is in everything I write, everything that I believe, because I never stop being Mexican and gay. I see it as just the way my life is, and that is just the way my writing is, I try to be as honest as I can, unless I’m writing fiction, then it is all Lies! Semi-well crafted lies!

CHUBSTR: What is your writing process like?
BPH: There is a lot of emotional eating, then I watch way too much porn, then I write it, hate it, rewrite it, eat some more, make out with someone, then send it in minutes before the deadline is up screaming at the gay gods for help and mercy. Then I eat a donut.

CHUBSTR: Who has influenced your life and writing most?
BPH: Everyone and everything. My parents were writers and continue to write, but they have not pursued it as much as I wish they had.

My mother especially has had a huge impact on my life. Her love of life, her humor, her strength, her charm, everything I do onstage that works well I’ve learned from her. She is one of my closest friends.

When I was twelve, my summer school teacher Judith Tannenbaum changed my life. She told me I was a poet and invited me to her poetry class she was teaching at UC Berkeley and inspired me to take my writing seriously. To tell a twelve-year-old kid who is feeling alone and in pain from being in the closet that their art matters, that it is important, and that they deserve to work on their art, is something only true heroes do. She changed my life, honestly. I’ve gotten to do such wonderful things with my life as a poet, meet new wonderful people, teach, travel. I got to thank her personally when she came to a poetry reading I was doing last month, it was so wonderful to see her in the audience.

Divine, Sonya Renee Taylor, Virgie Tovar, and Denise Jolly have also been important influences. And She-Ra Princess of Power.

CHUBSTR: What do you want to see more of in the writing and poetry world? What are you tired of?
BPH: More sex positive everything. There are too many writers that act like nuns around sex. If you continue stigmatizing or demonizing sex, you continue to demonize queers, queers sex, polyamory, sex workers, queer relationships, gay sex, and differently-abled sex. I’m super fucking tired of that. We as writers can’t keep being a part of that…it’s like a genre-wide slut-shaming of something pretty important.

How do I stay body positive? I forgive myself. Cause staying body positive for me, is hard, and often I lose.

CHUBSTR: How do you stay body positive? What would you tell a younger big-bodied guy trying to find their voice and identity?
BPH: How do I stay body positive? I forgive myself. Cause staying body positive for me, is hard, and often I lose. And why should I beat myself up some more when all of society is already trying to do that?

Unpopular opinion: it’s okay to feel like you fail sometimes. Sometimes fighting against everything society, the world, your parents, fatphobia, the clothing industry, or the media is A LOT and exhaaaaaaaausting. You shouldn’t feel guilty on top of that if one day you just fucking hate your body. It’s okay to fall once in a while, but then get the fuck back up.

Pick your battles and only let those bitches win for a day, because none of those things matter more than you and your relationship with your amazing beautiful large fat sexy self. Take a deep breath and stand in front of the mirror and be in awe of how much there is of you to love!

The world screams there is no one that will love you, but spoiler alert: there are countless hot sexy people who are going to love your body, be super turned on by your belly, your thick thighs, and big everything. I’ve often described myself as a big comfy couch that will hug you back – and gives great head. Before I got fat I was 190lbs and hated myself, and my sex life sucked. I decided one day fuck it, time to love myself with some cake! I got fat and my IDGAF attitude made my sex like ten times better.

What would I tell a younger big-bodied guy trying to find his voice and identity is “Don’t wait till you feel safe.” This world is not going to be 100% safe for fat people in our lifetime. We’re working hard to change that, but until then, we cannot hide. Do not hide your lovely beautiful self, explore your personality and what you love to do as much as you can, even if it seems scary.

I still feel panicky sometimes. The fear of being the fattest person in the room never goes away, but now when I realize I am the fattest person in a room, I CELEBRATE. I let them all now, I buy myself another drink, I high five the other fat people in the room. Life is short, enjoy it as much as you can with the body you got, and I swear that even though the world is telling you it’s not, it is. Big-bodied people are beautiful AF!

Learn more about Baruch Porras Hernandez at his website and follow him on Instagram.