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.

The Steelers Will Have Their International Game This Year, And They Want To Play In Mexico For Their Fans

Entertainment

The Steelers Will Have Their International Game This Year, And They Want To Play In Mexico For Their Fans

steelers / Instagram

It’s official, the Steelers will have their international game this year, but the place is not yet confirmed. Previous exhibition games were held in Montreal, Barcelona, London, and Tokyo. It’s been years since the team competed directly south of the border. And since Mexico is the home to one of largest fan bases of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they want to play their international game against the Jacksonville Jaguars south of the border

This time, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking forward to playing in Mexico. 

The Steelers are happy to play an international game, but they have a clear preference for where that game would be. The president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney, said, “We continue to raise our hand and say we’re interested in playing a game in Mexico.”  

The Steelers are expected to have an international game this year like they have in previous years.

One of them is their match against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile, it has been rumored that the Jaguars will have a game in London sometime this year.

People are already showing their excitement on social media because who doesn’t want to see the Steelers playing in Mexico.

“I need the best seat for the event of the year” tweeted one user. “I’ll sell my soul to be there,” wrote another die-hard fan. 

Mexico is home to a large portion of the Steeler Nation.

Steeler Nation, as their fans call themselves, proudly wear black and gold in Mexico. Fernando Camacho, a Mexican fan shared this saying in Spanish in an interview with ‘Behind the Steel curtain’, “Mi Corazon y mi alma son Amarillo y negro pero mi pasion y mi orgullo son de acero.” (My heart and soul are Black and Gold, but my passion and pride are made of steel.)

So naturally, the team’s first choice for an international game is to play in Mexico.

Rooney added during an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that, “They have to work out the logistics and all the pieces of the puzzle to have a game down there. Our first choice would be to play a game in Mexico if we have an international trip.” 

The Steelers have a history with Mexico that runs deep.

The Steelers played the Vikings in London in 2013, but have a longer history with Mexico. They played an exhibition game there in 2000, and have conducted clinics there in the past to try to drum up interest. They’ve also played in exhibition games in Toronto, Montreal, Barcelona, Tokyo, and Dublin. Rooney said that they prefer to have it in Mexico where they have a large number of fans. Mexico is also a neutral ground for both teams. 

READ: Alejandro Villanueva’s Jersey Is Top Seller After He Was Only Steelers Player To Stand During National Anthem

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Things That Matter

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Gobierno de Mexico

For a long time, it was considered that Mexico had averted the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has plagued much of the Americas. For a country of its size and population, Mexico historically has had a very low incidence rate of HIV infection – even among populations considered at a high-risk.

Mexico is also a nation that has a robust public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens free-of-charge or at very low prices, including HIV medications.

Many looked to Mexico as a role model for developing countries confronting the worldwide HIV epidemic. However, after recent reports about obsolete medications being given to HIV and AIDS patients many are beginning to question that way of thinking.

Mexico’s Health ministry revealed that Mexico had been buying outdated medications from suppliers that no longer worked.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed this morning that some drug providers were selling outdated and obsolete HIV drugs to the federal government. Many of the drug being used by the government to treat HIV-positive patients were from the 1980s and have been proven ineffective around the world.

At a press conference, he explained that in late 2019, authorities realized that drug companies were intentionally manipulating the public bidding process in a scheme to sell outdated drugs to the public health ministry.

“The combination of medicines tells us about the enormous lack of proper HIV treatment because they [the HIV medications] are not adequate. In many cases we found the use of old medicines, we found the use of the first HIV drug that was invented or discovered at the beginning of the 80s. It is a drug that is already obsolete worldwide and in Mexico was still being used,” he said.

According to the government, however, it was the fault of the drug companies that were gaming a public health system.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

“What did we find?” That here were pressures from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. We discovered that it was one group who made the medicines and that there were very few who distributed them. But they tie up the government with exclusive agreements to the different companies that manufacture the medicines,” he explained.

So basically, the distributors put pressure on doctors who specifically prescribed retroviral medications. He also clarified that purchases have always been made at the national level, however, they made no sense with the amounts of what they asked for in each state.

Despite this troubling revelation, the Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to securing the best care for those in need of HIV treatment.

Credit: Gilead Sciences

The undersecretary added: “In May, we completely modified the HIV treatment scheme. First, we made it clear that we wanted the best medications, the most effective, the safest; second, we identified how many people could have this ideal medication scheme and it turns out that there were many more than those who were taking advantage of it.”

This latest news comes just months after the country reformed its HIV treatment regime, leaving many fearful of shortages.

Public health officials warned of the possibility that thousands of Mexicans who rely on HIV treatment could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment.

Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drug buying process. It’s these reforms they say that will help combat problems such as being sold outdated and obsolete drugs.

However, many HIV activists warn of a public health crisis.

In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing.