For a queer Mexico

So it seems to me that, so far, I am the most (for lack of a better term) straight-edge on this blog. And separately, perhaps not quite queer enough. It's something that a lot of us men-lovin', queer-supportin' ladies deal with. It's the struggle with knowing how to identify personally (generally as the majority), how to support those who identify differently (generally as marginalized identities), how to fight against those who don't support those who identify differently (the punks), and then how to meet a decent person these days (not easy).

Then I think of an increasingly favorable way to cope – just not identifying. What's the point? We all know that we've had urges to bat for both teams. And let's hope it stays that way. So, I'll be the first one on the page to lay it out – I'm in a straight relationship. And yes, you guessed it, with one of those Mexican men I mentioned in the last post. I'm laying it all on the table now because it occurred to me this is an important factor in the way that I digest my experience living in Zacatecas. Transitioning from being a single American to a non-single American woman in Mexico has provided me with very different experiences. But that will probably be addressed more in-depth later.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with gender and queer issues in Mexico? In terms of dialogue? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That's because the majority of the people here just aren't thinkin' about it. I say the “majority” because it is a rare thing that I come across a little dialogue in my daily, weekly, or even monthly life. If I was living in a bigger city it would be different, but for now I become frustrated when I try to personally or socially address gender (and especially queer) issues. I think I was (surprisingly) spoiled by a certain pocket in U.S. culture and a more personal social circle that was more aware of these topics; I slammed a bit too hard into a metaphoric wall when I moved here.

I met this guy at a carne asada last week and he was describing one of the few gay clubs that exist here and it hit me – I've lived here for almost a year and I have yet to go out to a gay or lesbian bar. Why? Well, like I said, being in a relationship (for the good and the bad) allows you to not feel guilty for having a more relaxed social life. If I actually went out to bars and clubs on a regular basis maybe this detail would be different but I'm still trying to figure out this separation that exists in my social life that I never experienced before. But in the end, it shouldn't be so easy to exclude this part of the Zacatecas night life from one's social scene.

As one queer-identified friend responded when I asked him to come visit me, "Don't Mexicans hate gays?" Then the answer occurred to me: “Don't a lot of people hate gays?” Yes, you will probably find that a large percentage of Mexicans are uncomfortable or in disagreement with a gay lifestyle…but no, Mexicans don't "hate gays". They're not used to it. They have no experience with the idea. They live in a VERY different society than the one that the majority of our readers live in. They're vehemently taught by their political leaders, the church, and their elderly relatives that it's different, weird, and – yes— morally wrong. It's just that here, there is a lack of support, a lack of a place for gay culture in this society. You have to be REALLY out, or REALLY not out at all. There isn't much of an in between for identity growth because the culture just ain't havin' it. I've heard more than once that "gay" actually means having a penthouse and BMW in New York City…it's the idea of being gay that exists here rather than the actual thing.

In a city that is 98% Catholic, you have to give a little credit to the fact that this country just doesn't have the foundation in its politics, culture, or social values to keep in step with the good ol' U. S. of A. One of my co-workers once asked if I thought there were a lot more "gays" (as they are commonly referred to) on campus these days. And I said no, I think there are just more that finally feel comfortable in their own skin. The thing is, folks, a lot of times people think of "queer culture" but what they are really thinking about is "American queer culture". There's no room to talk about things like semantics, adoption rights, or anti-discrimination policies- we gotta get people used to the general idea before we can ask for their support on what we consider to be inherent expectations.

But hey, civil unions were legalized in Mexico City last November. And the truth of the matter is, you gotta start somewhere.

Creative Commons License