Culture

Many Mexicans Are Calling Out Fragile Masculinity As Some Continue To Protest A Controversial Zapata Painting

It is no secret that Mexican society is often affected by displays of homophobia. Even though there have been great advances such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in some states, the largely Catholic country is home of opinion leaders who are conservative and whose masculinity seems to be constantly threatened by anything that doesn’t spell out “straight.”

Added to this, Mexican political discourse is anchored in a solemn approach to institutions and the myths of the wars of Independence and Revolution, the two historical moments that have defined Mexican political life and foundational narratives for the past 200 years. So a recent painting hosted at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, perhaps the most iconic building dedicated to the arts in the Latin American country, made conservatives poner el grito en el cielo, as it dares to reimagine one of Mexico’s revolutionary leaders as a queer character.

For many, Zapata is akin to a deity and the image of heroic masculinity. The painting is, however, incendiary for exactly that reason, because it challenges notions of sex and gender in a day and age were some parts of Mexico are progressive while others remain under the dark clouds of discrimination and segregation of LGBTQ communities.

So this is the 2014 painting “The Revolution” by Fabian Chairez. 

The painting depicts a male figure who resembles the revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata, a cornerstone of Mexico’s Revolutionary War. Zapata was beloved by indigenous populations and gente de campo who believed that other revolutionaries were forgetting the most marginalised sectors of society.

But there is a twist: here, Zapata is naked, wearing heels and being totally gender-non-conforming as he rides a voluptuous horse. Chairez told Reuters: “I use these elements like the sombrero and horse and create a proposal that shows other realities, other ways of representing masculinity.”

Definitely not your usual depiction of the times, but surely a piece that is confronting in the best possible way. The painting was chosen as part of an exhibition on the revolutionary hero, but things got nasty. 

Zapata’s grandchildren have spoken out against the painting in the most homophic way, and things got bloody.

Zapata’s family demanded that the painting be taken off the exhibition because it allegedly “tainted” the public image of their grandfather. Let’s take a minute here and think about this: it is actually the worst possible kind of homophobia, as it implies that being queer is wrong and that it would be a blemish on Zapata’s legacy.

There were protests inside Bellas Artes and university students defending the work and freedom of expression actually got into a fistfight with farmers who stormed Bellas Artes chanting homophobic slurs and threatening to burn the painting in a gross display of toxic masculinity and an Inquisitorial outlook on life and art.

As reported by CE Noticias Financieras, Federico Ovalle, leader of the Independent Central Of Agricultural and Peasant Workers, said: “The picture denigrates the personality and trajectory of the general and it seems to us that presenting this figure is grotesque, of contempt and contempt of the peasants of the country.”

Luis Vargas Santiago, curator of the exhibit ‘Emiliano Zapata after Zapata’, told Reuters: “Of course it’s fine if they don’t like the painting, they can criticize the exhibition, but to seek to censor freedom of expression, that’s different.” 

The painting can stay, but it is being censored anyway.

As reported by Agence France Presse, the authorities decided that the painting can stay, but with a caveat: “But the Mexican Revolutionary hero’s family will be allowed to place a text beside it stating their strong objections to the work, which shows Zapata draped suggestively over a white horse with a giant erection.”

And the image will also be sort of hidden from public view (which, to be honest, might only increase the influx of visitors to the exhibition).

As AFP continues: “Under the deal, brokered by the Mexican culture ministry, the painting by artist Fabian Chairez will also be removed from promotional materials for the exhibition, “Emiliano. Zapata After Zapata,” which opened last month at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.”

Even Mexican president AMLO, who has declared his admiration for the revolutionary hero, got involved, ordering his culture minister to get involved. 

So was Emiliano Zapata a queer revolutionary hero? Perhaps, but that is not the point!

For years, historians have tried to get a glimpse into the man who was Emiliano Zapata. Some claim that his overt displays of macho masculinity were perhaps a way to silence any rumors regarding his sexuality. But the point is that it does not matter, or it should not matter, for any other reason that historical accuracy. And it isn’t anyone’s business, is it?

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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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Social Media Shows Up To Help Abuela Living In Dire Straights While Taking Care Of Disabled Great-Grandson

Things That Matter

Social Media Shows Up To Help Abuela Living In Dire Straights While Taking Care Of Disabled Great-Grandson

Isabel Zamudio / Getty Images

All too often we hear stories involving social media that don’t paint the best picture of the digital platforms. From trolls coming for people or fights and arguments going public to sexual harassment and doxxing, social media has so often been used as a tool to do harm.

Thankfully, though, that’s not always the case.

Now we get to tell the story of how one viral video has helped rescue a 90-year-old abuelita and her disabled 17-year-old great-grandson from dire straights.

A 90-year-old abuela and her great-grandson will soon have a new home thanks to support from social media.

Last week, a video was posted to social media about the dangerous and unsanitary conditions a 90-year-old woman and her great-grandson were living in. The woman, from Veracruz, Mexico, lived with her great-grandson, Pedro Miguel, in a shack with tarps for walls and rusted-out tin roof.

The shack was furnished with not much more than a bed, which got wet every time it rained. López’s children have died, her grandchildren have abandoned her, and Pedro is basically the only family she has.

Since the video went viral, DIF Family Services agency met with López and her grandson to assess their health and announced both would get the medications they need. Meanwhile, Leonor López, has been housed in a shelter for the elderly and Pedro was placed in a state-run home where each will remain until authorities can find a home for her and Pedro.

The great-grandmother and her great-grandson are all the other has.

Credit: Isabel Zamudio / Getty Images

Leonora has cared for Pedro ever since he was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth. The 17-year-old does not speak and suffers from epileptic seizures.

Before being placed in supportive housing, each day Leonor would leave her house with a rope tied to the arm of her great-grandson as they went out to collect whatever they could to earn money. Some days they’d collect aluminum cans or cardboard to sell and some days they’d visit verdulerías or even private homes to dig through the garbage to find something to eat.

Every two months Leonora would receive her disability pension of $2,500 pesos (or about $125 USD), which she had to use to buy medicines for Pedro. She also told Milenio that she owes money from the last time Pedro got severely ill.

“When he gets sick I take him to the hospital or to the Red Cross, but they charge me a lot, because he has seizures. This time he got sick I took him but they charged me $6,400 [pesos or ($320 USD)] for three days of care.”

However, since being taken into assisted care, Pedro has also been enrolled to receive his own disability pension, which will definitely help address his medical costs.

Sadly, there misfortunes haven’t ended there.

In what is truly a disappointing story, often times when Leonor and Pedro have gone out to try and earn what money they can, they’re home is robbed of what little they have. According to their neighbor Rogelio, the community hasn’t come to their support – instead they steal from the family.

“I don’t see someone coming to help her, on the contrary, what little she has there they steal from her, even though she is alone in her house they steal what little she can gather; people take advantage,” Rogelio told Milenio.

Thankfully, the viral video has helped spur change for the family and they’ll soon have a proper home and the government benefits they’re both entitled to.

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