Today we’d like to introduce you to Gaudencio Marquez.
Hi Gaudencio, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Discovering my passion for the art of crochet led me to be one of the founders of The Queer Mercado. As I reflect on my journey, it is when I’m my most authentic self that I find community and projects that bring me immense joy. The Queer Mercado is that joy for me.
To begin to understand the joy and significance of The Queer Mercado, I have to take it back to my youth growing up as a Chicano in the Coachella Valley. Due to the stifling walls of homophobia, my younger Brown and Queer self was not able to imagine, much less dream, of finding a safe-space for others like me to cultivate community while experiencing a feeling of belonging.
As a child growing up in a farmworker community, I always understood the value of hard work and education and that community strength is derived from our families and culture. I also understood early on that there were parts of my identity that were not as ready to be celebrated or for that matter even acknowledged. Yes, I’m referring to being in the closet, but I’m also referring to my inability to explore my creativity and femininity as an extension of that creative process.
Which brings me to sharing a little more about how I became a crochet artist. I grew up watching my abuelitas weave yarn into beautiful art pieces, many of which we wore as kids but also some that we continue to enjoy in our living rooms, on our tables, and under our plantitas. I always loved watching them create, but unfortunately, I never got to learn from them. In different instances, I received a problematic message that boys don’t do such things because it’s too feminine. In other words, not manly enough. Sadly, I complied and didn’t get a chance to explore those parts of me until later in life.
Coming into my 30s, I met an incredible man, Eduardo, who is now my husband and we’ve been together for over a decade. The possibilities became endless when we celebrated our love in front of almost 150 of our closest friends and family. Our wedding day was magical, and it was not only a celebration of our love but I also now realize that I made a subconscious decision to live my life as unapologetically and authentically as possible. I realized there is power that exists in our identities. I’ve learned to honor that power by channeling it into my creative outlet — my passion for crocheting.
I believe it was this foundation that allowed me to create and weave yarn like my abuelitas did. The moment I picked up a needle was akin to holding a magic wand that I couldn’t let go. And I really haven’t. I crochet every day. About a year ago, I launched Casa De Larquez, LLC where I sell some of the pieces I make and love sharing my process and the joy it brings me on social media. It was through Instagram that I was able to meet Diana Diaz who invited me to join her in creating the Queer Mercado. She had started the Goddess Mercado and after experiencing the magic of a space where powerful Latinas were celebrating & creating economic opportunities for each other, I immediately knew that I needed to be a part of creating something similar for the Queer community. Soon after, a few of us came together (Diana Diaz, Ryan Montez & the founders of In the Making, Maribel Valdez & Ed Chang) and made this dream come true. With the support, trust, and love of community, we were able to launch in July of 2021 with 42 vendors and we are now a community of over 100 vendors, including a full lineup of entertainment and delicious food.
Now, as an openly Queer adult, my Chicano heart jumps for joy knowing that a space for Queer People of Color to belong to exists. Through the collective work of fellow co-founders, vendors, and community, I helped make that happen. Like a crochet hook threading yarn through a loop to form art, The Queer Mercado is a space that threads LGBTQ+ community together by uplifting and celebrating artists, creators, and small-business owners in East Los Angeles and beyond.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The journey, like for many of us, hasn’t been without its challenges. That said, I’ve been privileged to always be surrounded by people that support me unconditionally. Familia, friends, mentors. Some that have even made me realize that I’m worth it and stronger or smarter than I even realize myself. As difficult as the journey has been my saving grace has always been my community.
In terms of the Queer Mercado, currently, founders volunteer their time to organize The Queer Mercado as a once-a-month event. One of the goals of the Mercado is to create sustainable lines of revenue so we can hire paid staff to help run the monthly event. Please do reach out should you be interested in co-sponsoring the event.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m most proud of the work I’m doing as a crochet artist and what we are building with the Queer Mercado. Recently a few crochet artists and I came together, and we created a crochet art installation called “you are welcome here” where we created beautiful rainbows, hearts and eyes signaling to the community that there are people in our community that are watching over us. Especially the goddess mothers, whether biological or chosen, they are watching and protecting us. IN this installation we invited people to take a heart and either keep it or share it with someone. Not only is the installation still up but the hearts were all taken.
As a crochet artist, my hope is to continue growing in this art form, bring joy to others through my creations and most important of all, help others heal through this practice. I hope to someday bring this formally into schools and have this be a vehicle to build community. I believe that allowing ourselves to create with our hands is a healing practice that has been passed down from our ancestors. I also believe that when we allow ourselves to live without the confines of the gender constructs created by society, we are able to truly explore the possibilities in who we each are and what we are capable of. All of us. Through this work, I intend to do my part in chipping away at these limiting expectations one stitch at a time.
Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
• You can find me at @casadelarquez on Instagram & Facebook to follow my crochet journey. If you are a crocheter, send me a message, we might be able to collaborate or at least share cute crochet videos.
• You can also follow @thequeermercado to join us as we continue to build this beautiful community. If you’d like to join us as a vendor or a performer, make sure to fill out the link in our bio.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Thequeermercado@gmail.com
- Website: thequeermercado.com,
- Instagram: @casadelarquez, @thequeermercado
- Facebook: @casadelarquez, @thequeermercado
Wedding pictures: Antonio Leyva