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Cover of "Butterfly Boy" featuring a boy with wings
June 2006
University of Wisconsin Press

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Butterfly Boy

Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
Rigoberto Gonzalez

Heartbreaking, poetic and intensely personal, "Butterfly Boy" is a unique coming out and coming-of-age story of a first-generation Chicano who trades one life for another, only to discover that history and memory are not exchangeable or forgettable. 

Growing up among poor migrant Mexican farmworkers, Rigoberto Gonzalez also faces the pressure of coming-of-age as a gay man in a culture that prizes machismo. Losing his mother when he is 12, Gonzalez must then confront his father’s abandonment and an abiding sense of cultural estrangement, both from his adopted home in the United States and from a Mexican birthright. His only sense of connection gets forged in a violent relationship with an older man. By finding his calling as a writer, and by revisiting the relationship with his father during a trip to Mexico, Gonzalez finally claims his identity at the intersection of race, class and sexuality. The result is a leap of faith that every reader who has ever felt like an outsider will immediately recognize.


Rigoberto Gonzalez earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Arizona State University in 1997.