We wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate and share our thoughts on queer Afro-Dominican writer and community organizer Alejandro Heredia’s debut collection of short stories You’re The Only Friend I Need, as well as briefly acknowledge his time with us at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. Alejandro worked as a research associate for three years helping us advance and develop several long-term projects at the Institute. One of those projects involved the forgotten early twentieth century Dominican writer Mercedes Mota and her experiences in the United States denouncing U.S. imperialism. Moreover, he was featured in a Manhattan Times article when CUNY launched the first “Dominican Studies Master’s Program” in 2017 where he expressed the importance of the program for a new generation of students.
At the end of 2021, Alejandro participated in CUNY DSI’s two-day international virtual conference The Struggle for Freedom in La Español: Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the First Slave Revolt in the Americas on the panel titled “Crafting Resistance: Artistic Renderings of the Dominican Imaginary” where he discussed revising Dominican origins and literary imagination.
Heredia’s debut short story collection You’re The Only Friend I Need illustrates how the complexity and nuance of friendship shapes the transnational lives of the Dominican diaspora by centering Blackness and Queerness. Throughout the four stories, Heredia explores Dominican migration and identity through an intimate, authentic, fierce, and compassionate lens that reveals the joy and unapologetic nature of his characters in a decidedly cruel world.
This story short collection was published in May of 2021, but we couldn’t help sharing this amazing read with our visitors. We highly recommend this book for professors, librarians, students, and the general public looking to read and uplift Afro-Dominican diasporic voices and Black LGBTQIA experiences.
Librarian Ortiz: I was absolutely floored by the flow of beautiful words and use of Dominican dialect in this collection, and the incredible Black Queer characters that refused to be limited by their circumstances and never gave up searching for themselves through their friendships. The final story “1999” left me wanting more and needing to know what was going to happen next and whether everything would work out for the main character.
Prof. Aponte: Alejandro has a way of describing intimacies with respect and grace… by reading his work; we get a glimpse into a world that exists in a very palpable way.
Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian
Prof. Sarah Aponte, Chief Librarian and Associate Professor