Alex Blaze

Luisa Fernanda, fired for a word she didn't know

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 09, 2007 7:31 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: homophobic behavior, Luis Jimenez, Luisa Fernanda, Telemundo, Unity Coalition

From the Miami Herald-Sun:

With Spanish-language media under increased scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission, a Miami talk show has sharpened that fuzzy line to zero tolerance. Telemundo TV personality Luisa Fernanda, the Mexican host of the popular show Cotorreando ("Chattering''), was fired after she made an unintended slur against gays.

Fernanda used the Cuban word for grouper, cherna, which for Cubans has another meaning: a pejorative term for a gay man.

Talk about your slips of the tongue. Even though I'm familiar with several fun and not-so-fun words for queers in Spanish, it's all from Argentine Spanish, a form of the language that has enough peculiarities to get its own dictionary on MS Word, separate from the unqualified "Spanish". But I had never heard that cherna was offensive.

But back to Fernanda. She claims she didn't know that in Cuban Spanish the word "cherna" meant "faggot". Since she's of Mexican descent, and considering how varied slang is between Spanish-speaking countries, I wouldn't be at all surprised if she actually didn't know.

Especially when taken in context:

Fernanda was dissecting the latest sex videotape scandal last month with co-host Mauricio Zeilic when she asked him if he would back her if she was attacked, and he said yes.

Fernanda then joked that if they were attacked by the feared Central American gang the ''Mara Salvatrucha'' -- Salvatrucha is Central American slang that includes the word trucha, or ''trout'' -- they could send in a different gang: the ``Grouper of Hialeah.''

Andrés Duque points out how GLAAD has been paying special attention to a Luis Jiménez, a less ambiguously homophobic Univision Radio host, and suggests that Telemundo may have gone off the deep end here to avoid scrutiny.

Alex at Stuck on the Palmetto, who's Cuban, confirms that it's an anti-gay slur in Cuba and agrees with Duque's sentiment in saying:

But what's galling is that if Telemundo and other Spanish media really wants to look for examples of insensitive and stereotypical treatment of gays (or women, or minorities), all they have to do is turn on the TV or radio. Gays in Spanish media are invariably portrayed as the fey, screeching stereotype; always used for comic relief. As we say in Cuba, "qué cara más dura" (what a hard face!).

Actually, that expression made it all the way down to Argentina.

Telemundo doesn't even have the support of GLAAD in this one, which must mean that they're really, really off the mark:

"Luisa Fernanda has always collaborated with the Latin lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community", GLAAD's Mónica Taher told Peopleenespañ "She has been present in many GLAAD events."

And elsewhere:

''We actually watched the clip, and the context wasn't to insult gays and lesbians,'' she said.

The Unity Coalition, a South Floridan LGBT Latino/a group, even honored her as "Queen for a Day" yesterday.

Honestly, taking this extreme and misguided measure to fire someone for a homophobic slur that she didn't even know she said goes to show that Telemundo is reacting to a possible public perception of homophobia rather than an actual commitment to the advancement of equality along the lines of sexuality. If they actually had that sort of commitment, they would have a better understanding of the nuances of language related to belittling others to make the distinctions between Jiménez and Fernanda.

As Andrés puts it:

The firing of Luisa Fernanda from Cotorreando shows that these punitive actions are probably a passing trend rather than Latino media finally having found its "conscience."


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I'm glad you blogged about this, Alex. I'd just found the story and was heading over to put something up.

You just have to wonder what is really going on in this case. The host has a history of being gay-friendly, was the marshall for the city's gay pride parade, and argued for gay rights on air! And she was fired for an anti-gay slur when so many other shows and commentators are actually homophobic?

Something's rotten in Denmark. Or Cuba. Well, at least Florida.

So, tell me again, why was she fired? As far as I know--and my spanish is quite rusty, the terms for gays are "maricon" and (derogatory) "florita." I actually do believe that the broadcasters are getting a bit touchy when they demand that hosts from one country (in this case, Mexico) are supposed to be knowledgeable about the various connotations of a term in another country (Cuba).

If one is to demand that, nobody would say anything.

I am dismay and very much surprised about the firing of Luisa Fernanda from the show..!
YES... it is true that the slang "Cherna" it is one of the many words we call guys..!
I put my hands on the FIRE for Luisa Fernanda and assure anyone, that she did not mean an anti-guy slur, specially when she does not know the cuban slangs...!
Kids of cuban descent you can hear them saying words, which they DO NOT know how to apply in the cuban community..!
I am so upset about the firing of Luisa Fernanda from the show, that I do not watch the Show any-more, neither any Telemundo Programs... and we used to watch all of Telemundo Programs all the times over Univision...!
Certainly the person responsible for her firing, should be fired from Telemundo himself...!
Too Bad for Telemundo... they show the typical American way...! That's how it is in the United States....!
Well I wish Luisa Fernanda the best, hoping she could land something at Univision or TV Azteca, but if I was her.. will NOT ever go back to the Telemundo or NBC Television... they will never get anywhere with policies of these type...!
You have to analize the incident... I am sure the person responsible is an American, that does not know much about Hispanics....!

Mario Carter | August 3, 2007 12:35 PM

This is another example of people with too much power and lack of knowledge.
Luisa Fernanda, hang in there. You're so much much more than that.

As a Cuban, I am ashamed of this people in Miami. Luisa Fernanda is an awesome show host and she needs to be reinstated back in the show. How can she be offensive when she works with Queen Mauricio Zeiligh? And I thought Telemundo wasn't as crappy and manipulative as Univision

I think Telemundo made a big mistake, especially after seeing the replacements... zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Wake up Telemundo and put her back on the air!

I live in Miami, Florida. As a gay man and a human right activist, I am confused ?!

Ron Brenesky is a co-founder of Unity Coalition has been scamming people for
money and pretending to be a criminal lawyer, trying to buy-off INS and federal agents.

How can you give awards to someone who is pretending to defend the rights of the Latino LGTB Miami community ???
Haven't you seen the news?

Video: Truth about Ron Brenesky at

Video: Ron and the Goverment Buyoff!

This unfortunate example leads to many questions upon considering. From the age when homosexuality was a criminal offense hundreds of years ago, our civilization and democracy process is continuously improving, however, in this case, we do see a room of improvement.