As a queer brown girl, adolescence was cruel and oftentimes ruthless. But in Cristy C. Road’s Indestructible: Growing Up Queer, Cuban, and Punk in Miami, queer brown adolescence is rebellion, self-discovery, and self-determination. Indestructible is an illustrated novel exploring the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality within the feminist punk rock scene of 1990s Miami. For Road, punk subculture was more than loud music and DIY fashion. It provided avenues for subverting misogyny and normativity, in reconstituting female pleasure and sexuality, and in navigating the cultural barriers and discrepancies between America and Cuba. Set in a typerwriter-esque font and Xerox-style printing that mirrors zine-making, Indestructible redefines the growing-up narrative, giving it a new form, a dissonant voice, and a queer aberrant body.
The memoir begins with Road expanding the interpretation of coming-of-age, stating, “[T]he enticement of adolescence [goes] beyond any new pubes and first kisses” (11). For Road, adolescence was first orgasms, defying white and Cuban beauty standards, and negotiating the collisions between girl/womanhood and queerness. Road poses the questions I was too afraid to ask as an adolescent: “‘Why do women compete?’ ‘Why do men abuse power?’ ‘Why doesn’t anyone think it’s normal that I masturbate?’ ‘Why does the way I pee, the way I fuck, or the way my chest looks dictate the language that’s acceptable for me to use?’” (28). These questions are not only explored and answered through Road’s various musings and conversations, but the many one-page and two-page black-and-white spreads illustrate the experimentation, aberration, and resistance of queer punk bodies to normativity and authority. The bold, black lines that curve around brown female bodies and the intricate patterns and textures of clothing aid in transporting the reader into Road’s world of Latinx punk subculture. Art and DIY manifesting in and on punk bodies was essential to the movement, and Road does a stunning job demonstrating this reality through graphic storytelling.
Indestructible also deals with the issues of death and sexual violence through the lens of adolescence. Road comes to reflect on her mortality and vulnerability as a woman after bearing witness to such events. Although many coming-of-age narratives do address and reflect on these themes, Indestructible does so through a queer Latinx context. In regards to death, Road states, “I cried a little and realized that we had that power; to hurt, question, and choose death over healing. Healing is more than spewing out remorse and asking for a shoulder to cry on. Healing is sparse and concealed. Healing is harder to come by than cheap dope, random acquaintances, and fatality” (62). With this passage, Road complicates the notion of healing by acknowledging the missteps we may take in its direction, as well as the fact that there is no blueprint, no essentialized guide to self-love and self-care. In addition, Road up until this point had been engaged with making herself tough, unapologetic, and, in her words, “invincible” in order to survive. Her vulnerability and self-reflection demonstrates the potentiality of tenderness, illustrating that queer punk feminism did not just have to be coarse and aggressive. Vulnerability was just as assertive, powerful, and invincible.
Indestructible is fun, raucous, unapologetic, and deeply honest. If you were a rebellious, queer-questioning teenager who loved to rock, you will definitely find yourself in its pages.