Cultural Revolutions

Looking Backwards

Gil Santana had it all: He was the model conservative for the new millennium.  Gil was born and reared in Southern California, naturally, and his given name evoked the rich diversity of the state that had once symbolized the American dream: Kim Kwame Kaplan Santana, each part representing one fourth of his Korean, African, Jewish, and Mexican heritages—a sort of postmodern Ku Klux Klan.  On the Mexican side, Kim (as he was then known) laid claim to being a nephew or cousin of the legendary rocker Carlos Santana, and, after a few glasses of sparkling Moscato, he would even declare himself a descendant of the Mexican general who massacred the defenders of the Alamo.  It was always good for a laugh at a La Raza meeting.

The story of how he got the name Gilbert adds another dimension to his diverse identity.  In the late 90’s, young Kim had taken the route, so fashionable then as now, of turning gay, though he often claimed to be more bi than gay.  His orientation helped get him elected to the L.A. city council as a left-wing Democrat.  Then, after deciding that he was really a woman trapped in a man’s body, he had himself surgically altered, which was a help in his successful run for the California legislature.  He did not even have to change his name from Kim.  But, in hopes of taking the Bay area in a gubernatorial race, he proclaimed himself...

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