Culture

This Mexican City Has Grown Into A Major LGBTQ Destination But It Wasn’t Always That Way

The year 1492 was a momentous year for Spanish and Latin American history. Not only is it the year that Christopher Columbus invaded Indigenous lands in the ‘New World’ but it’s also the year that the Spanish drove out Muslims and Jews from Spain.

It also happened to be a big year for homosexuality.

At the time, two Spanish monarchs were believed to have been homosexuals, and that Isabela’s own succession to the thrown had been contested by her notoriously homosexual half brother, Enrique IV, had raised the issue of homosexuality to the forefront of royal and public consciousness.

So when all of this Spanish colonial history converged on present-day Mexico, there were a wide degree of views.

Credit: museonacionalantropologia / Instagram

After the Spanish conquest in 1519, the Spanish Inquisition was established and the Catholic Church dictated most rules regarding society and living, including capital punishment for homosexuals.

Much like the Catholic Spaniards, the Aztecs punished homosexual relationships with death. They placed great importance on masculine ‘macho’ identity and warriors and soldiers were often idolized for their machismo.

While the Mayans, Toltecs and other Indigenous groups accepted third genders and same-sex partnerships as part of their communities. It’s said that they even hosted giant orgies that allowed same-sex relations.

It wasn’t until the intellectual influence of the French Revolution and a brief occupation by the French Empire that same-sex activities were decriminalized.

But the values of strong Catholic influence would take another hundred years to give way to a real LGBT movement. During the 1970s, a new generation of politicians and intellectuals began discussing their sexual preferences openly and promoting the adoption of equality laws that ensured that LGBT Mexicans and foreigners living in the country received the same rights as their heterosexual peers.

Jump forward 500 years, and in many ways, modern Mexico is pretty tolerant of its LGBTQ community – or at least its capital, Mexico City.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Today, the bustling capital of 20 million people appears to be a LGBTQ sanctuary, with openly-gay couples kissing and holding hands in all parts of the city. The city hosted Latin America’s first Gay Pride Parade in 1979 and it remains one of the world’s largest. And the city has a thriving, internationally popular queer nightlife scene.

The city even has its own LGBTQ district in the Zona Rosa – or Pink Zone. This giant gayborhood is packed full of LGBTQ-oriented shops, support groups, health centers, bars, cafes, and clubs. And it happens to be located in the city’s most popular areas along Paseo Reforma.

Public sentiment is shifting as well. CONAPRED (National Council to Prevent Discrimination) found in 2005 that 70% of Mexican citizens rejected the idea of same-sex marriage. Nowadays, numbers have reversed, and 68% of the population doesn’t see why same-sex couples couldn’t be married.  

Some of Mexico’s greatest icons were members of the LGBTQ community.

Credit: fridakahlo / Instagram

One of the first LGBT activists was Nancy Cárdenas. Cárdenas, writer, actress, and theater director, inspired by the LGBT movements in Europe and the United States, began to direct gatherings of LGBT writers. In 1973 she was the first Mexican to openly discuss her homosexuality on Mexican television and she founded Mexico’s first LGBTQ organization in 1974, the Homosexual Liberation Front (FLH).

Frida Khalo was openly bisexual and had relationships with women while being in the media and married to Diego Rivera. Today, she’s an international icon for not only the LGBTQ community but also Mexicanidad and Chicanos.

Although Juan Gabriel never spoke to the media about his sexuality, many Mexicans consider him an LGBTQ icon who kept his personal life to himself.

But today’s polished image as a gay mecca didn’t come without sacrifice.

Perhaps one of the most famous stories of anti-gay sentiment in Mexico came in 1901 on a raid of a gay bar in central Mexico City. The event today is now called El Baile de Los 41 – or the Dance of the 41. This raid predated the Stonewall Inn uprising by 68 years!

Police illegally raided a private home and arrested (officially) 41 men, 19 of whom were dressed in drag. Rumor has it that though that there was a 42nd man dressed in drag, who happened to be the son-in-law of President Porfirio Diaz.

The Dance of the 41 was such a huge scandal that to this day the number 41 remains taboo. No division, regiment, or battalion of the army is given the number 41. From 40 they progress directly to 42. No payroll has a number 41. Municipal records show no houses with the number 41. No hotel or hospital has a Room 41. Nobody celebrates their 41st birthday, going straight from 40 to 42. No vehicle is assigned a number plate with 41, and no police officer will accept a badge with that number.

At one point, police shut down every single gay bar in the city.

During World War II, Mexico City had a thriving gay nightlife scene with 10-15 gay bars operating around the city. Relative freedom from harassment continued until 1959 when Mayor Ernesto Uruchurtu closed every gay bar following a grisly triple murder.

Motivated by pressure to “clean up vice” and by the lucrativeness of bribes from queer people threatened with arrests, Mexico City’s policemen had a reputation for zeal in persecution of homosexuals.

Even today, the LGBTQ community of Mexico City faces problems that non-queer people can’t even imagine.

Credit: @soyhomosensual / Twitter

Translation: Mexico is one of the countries with the most murders caused by homophobia. There have been 381 members of the LGBT+ community killed in Mexico in just four years.

Widespread corruption and poverty make it difficult for LGBT people from impoverished families to gain access to the same benefits that a wealthy Mexican would. The great divide between rich and poor makes gay life greatly different between individuals of different social classes. While in most cases a wealthy Mexican can have a comfortable out life, poor youths from rural areas can face abandonment and violence after coming out.

Anti-discrimination laws in Mexico are weak at best and are rarely enforced, making it common for queer individuals to face discrimination and exclusion.

While violence against the trans community is the second worst in the world.

Credit: @impulsemx_ / Twitter

Mexico ranks second in homicide rates against transgender and transsexual people, with 56 murders every year. Experts agree that hate, violence, and discrimination are the main causes of such a high murder rate. Mexico is only second to Brazil, which registered 171 crimes against the trans communities, in a list of 71 countries.

Transgender women are one of the most vulnerable social groups in Mexico, next to homosexuals, and they are often subject to physical aggression due to their identity. The violence they endure ranges from death threats to physical harm, rape, sexual harassment, and murder.

Still, in a country where the Catholic Church maintains a strong influence over culture, Mexico City has fostered a welcoming place for the country’s LGBTQ community.

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The Mexico City House From Netflix’s “Roma” Is Up For Sale And Could Be Yours For The Right Price

Entertainment

The Mexico City House From Netflix’s “Roma” Is Up For Sale And Could Be Yours For The Right Price

Rodrigo Arangua / Getty Images

Every so often the locations filmed in some of our favorite movies become famous in their own right. Think about the dinosaurs from Peewee’s Big Adventure, the Circus Liquor store from Clueless, or the San Francisco mansion from Full House, close your eyes and you can probably picture them crystal clear.

For the Netflix film Roma, one of its biggest stars has been the house in which many of the film’s scenes were shot. In fact, it’s become a bit of a tourist destination in its own right. And now, as it comes on the market, people are flocking to the property for a chance to see it up close.

The house from Roma is on sale and people are flocking to see it.

Besides being a chronicle of a family during a turbulent moment in history and conveying a complex look at class and gender, Alfonso Cuarón’s award-winning Roma is also that rare film where its primary location feels like a character unto itself. In this case, it’s the Mexico City house where the film’s characters live; over the course of watching, you might feel like you live there yourself.

Now, the house in question is on the market — and cinema buffs and architecture fans alike might be intrigued.

The now famous house doesn’t really standout among the neighboring homes – except for a commemorative plaque.

Credit: Rodrigo Arangua/ Getty Images

Although the house is located in one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods – Roma – it’s located in a quiet corner of the colonia and doesn’t really stand out from any of the other houses. Although upon further inspection, you’ll see a plaque that commemorates the most celebrated Mexican film in decades, Roma.

In the 2018 film, Tepeji 22 stood in for Alfonso Cuarón’s boyhood home, and its facade and patio featured in some of the most memorable scenes.

Cuarón spent the first years of his life in the house across the street, Tepeji 21, but preferred the light in the house opposite to shoot his film and the family agreed. The production designer, Eugenio Caballero, changed the window grilles and retiled the patio, which serves as the set piece for the film’s first scene introducing the film’s protagonist, Cleo, the family’s maid, as she washes dog waste from the floor with soapy water.

The home was painstakingly recreated a set to match Cuarón’s memories.

Credit: Carlos Somante / Roma / Netflix

In a Netflix documentary about the making of the film, Cuáron describes how he tried to find as much of the original furniture as he could, contacting relatives across Mexico to ask them to borrow pieces. And it worked, since so many people who saw the film spoke about its authenticity and beauty.

The home’s owners have put it up for sale but aren’t publicly disclosing the price.

When Roma was nominated for 10 Oscars – and won three, including one for Best Director – the Monreal family (who own the property) welcomed tourists who tracked the movie’s locations through Roma and the rest of the city.

“It hurts,” Monreal told The Guardian, of the decision to sell the house, preferring to keep the reasons for the sale private. “It has given us great satisfaction, we love it. You can’t measure everything that we have lived through here, everything this house has given us: shelter, closeness, a united family.”

Despite the rumors that are swirling across social media, the Monreal family has not publicly shared the asking price for the house. A listing for a four-bedroom house on the same street, which is only two blocks long and not much changed since the 1970s, cited an asking price of about US$760,000.

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Is This Peak 2020? La Virgen De Guadalupe Allegedly Appears Inside A Mexico City Pothole

Culture

Is This Peak 2020? La Virgen De Guadalupe Allegedly Appears Inside A Mexico City Pothole

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

In one many are calling a miracle, some Mexico City residents say that an image of La Virgen de Guadalupe has appeared in their neighborhood, in the middle of a pothole.

Many are so convinced that they’ve turned the site into a holy shrine and visitors from around the city are flocking to the area to pay their respects and offer prayers. But not everyone is convinced with many on Twitter responding with their own supposed visions of the virgin in everything from tacos and heads of lettuce to clouds and tortillas.

Could it be? Did la virgen appear in a Mexico City pothole?

Despite stay-at-home orders, faithful Catholics have been flocking to a pothole in the Mexico City suburb of Nezahualcóyotl. Why? They’re convinced that la Virgen de Guadalupe has made an appearance in a pothole, thanks to an image which residents say bears a miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

According to neighbors, the image appeared on December 9 soon after the pothole was filled for the second time in a row.

Locals told the newspaper El Universal that the pothole had been left unrepaired for two years, but then workers showed up to repair it last week. When traffic caused the hole to reopen, a worker came by a second time to fix the hole. That evening, neighbors say, the image of the virgin appeared on the fresh concrete.

Residents in the area have already turned the new holy site into a shrine.

Local resident Beatriz Noriega Ramírez was one of a group of neighbors who taped off the site and surrounded it with candles and flowers in tribute.

“News is already circulating about the appearance of the virgin and people have begun to arrive to say prayers,” she said. “Even sick people have been asking from their cars to be healed.”

Neighbors of the new virgin told reporters that they felt blessed to have Mexico’s most beloved holy figure make an appearance in their neighborhood.

“In these such difficult pandemic times, it’s a message that the virgin is with us,” said a visibly emotional resident.

And the discovery comes just as Catholics celebrated the virgin’s holy day.

The image appeared on December 9, a holy day for Mexican Catholics for it is the day the virgin is said to have first appeared in Mexico, in 1531, to an indigenous man known as Juan Diego.

Catholics just marked the Virgin of Guadalupe’s feast day on Saturday. Her basilica, in a zone of the city known as Villa Guadalupe, usually attracts 8–10 million visitors in the days leading up to December 12. However, this year police-manned barricades kept all but locals from accessing the streets near the basilica on Friday and Saturday. All church activities on both days at the basilica were canceled to discourage large crowds.

However, many Twitter users reacted with skepticism.

Honestly, we’re just waiting for our tías and abuelas to start sending this around with a blessing attached. It is only a matter of time before we see this photo all over our newsfeeds because of the very family members mentioned above.

And let’s be honest. This isn’t the first time people have claimed to have had a religious figure appear in strange places.

In 1977, a Latina mother in New Mexico became the first person to spot Jesus Christ on a tortilla. As Angelica Rubio recalled for The Eater, the discovery of the tortilla convinced her mother to set up a dedicated shrine to the tortilla to make sure people could come to see the miracle. The tortillas, made by Rubio’s mother every morning, held a surprise one morning as she saw a burn mark in one tortilla that looked just like the Lord Jesus Christ.

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