Arte Publico

Classical 91.7-Arte Público Press Author of the Month: Dr. Gloria Velasquez

Dr. Gloria Velasquez is this month's Classical 91.7/Arte Público Press Author of the Month. In the latest installment of a series of monthly features, Houston Public Media's Eric Ladau spoke with Dr. Velasquez.


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Tommy Stands Tall is the ninth novel in Gloria L. Velasquez’s popular Roosevelt High School series, which features a multiracial group of teenaged students who must individually confront contemporary social and cultural issues. It is the second novel that follows Tommy’s story, which began in Tommy Stands Alone (Piñata Books, 1995).

Tommy is excited to finally be a senior at Roosevelt High School. There was a time when he thought he’d never graduate, especially after he tried to kill himself to avoid dealing with his sexual orientation. But with the help of his friends, he has accepted who he is, come out to his family and friends and is preparing for college next year.

But when Albert, a new student at Roosevelt High, is beaten so badly he winds up in the emergency room, Tommy can’t help but wonder if he was attacked because he’s gay. Soon, rumors about Albert are reverberating down the school’s hallways, and Tommy fears Albert might seek the same solution he himself did two years before. Tommy visits Ms. Martinez, the counselor who helped him come to terms with his sexuality, who reminds him about his idea to start a Gay Straight Alliance Club at Roosevelt High. Suddenly, he realizes how he can help Albert.

In spite of being busy with school, his job at the local theater and tutoring a young immigrant boy, Tommy finds other students—both gay and straight—interested in starting a club to raise awareness and seek equality for gay students. But will it really make a difference? Will they be able to modify the school’s anti-discrimination code? And will the group be able to help Albert?

GLORIA L. VELASQUEZ is the author of the Roosevelt High School Series, which now comprises nine novels, and two poetry collections, I Used to Be a Superwoman (Arte Público Press, 1997) and Xicana on the Run (Chusma House Publications, 2005). She lives in San Luis Obispo, where she is a professor in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at California Polytechnic State University.

ARTE PÚBLICO PRESS is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity. For more information, please visit