Culture

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Mexico City Is Hoping $10,000 Pesos Is Enough To Get Its Police Officers To Lose Some Weight

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Mexico City Is Hoping $10,000 Pesos Is Enough To Get Its Police Officers To Lose Some Weight

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Ever struggled to drag yourself from bed for a little morning gym? Yeah, you’re not alone. Getting into shape is often a matter of finding the right motivation.

Would $525 help?

That’s the amount that the Mexico City government is planning to reward its police officers who’re prepared to drop the extra pounds. That’s right – they’ll be paid to get trim.

Mexico City has launched the ‘Healthy Policia’ program which aims to help police get in shape.

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The Secretariat of Citizen Security of Mexico launched the program to combat the problem of Mexico’s overweight police. The problem is so huge, no pun intended, that a 2017 study by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) found that a whopping 8 out of 10 city police officers were overweight.

The government hopes that rewarding MXN10,000 (525 US dollars) to agents who lose weight, might finally help put the force into better shape.

Overweight police are a common sight on city streets.

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Anyone who’s visited Mexico City will likely have seen large and heavy uniformed police officers pacing street corners on duty or standing in the torta line.

Obesity is a massive issue that cuts through all segments of Mexican society.

But you wouldn’t be crazy to expect a higher fitness standard from those whose duty should be to keep la gente safe and maintain order in this bustling city.

But, sadly, seeing overweight agents on duty is just business as usual.

Obesity in Mexico, not just among the police force, is an epidemic.

In fact, a 2018 National Survey of Professional Police Standards and Training found that 79.4% of officers exceed their recommended BMI. And not only does it affect job performance – it’s also a serious health issue for them.

A national survey found that 81.4% of police officers suffered from at least one chronic disease. Topping the list was high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic stress.

That same survey found that, interestingly, police with operational roles were more likely to be overweight or obese, than those in administrative roles.

The new Healthy Polícia initiative is designed to pay off over 6 months.

This new Healthy Polícia initiative will benefit up to 2,000 members of Mexico City’s police force and will even require them to sign a letter of commitment to the cause.

The program rolls out in stages over 6 months. To start with, the agent’s level of obesity will be diagnosed. For the next five months, the agent will receive 1,000 pesos for every month that they manage to lose weight. On the sixth month, they’ll receive a final bonus reward of 4,000 pesos as the proverbial cherry-on-top.

Participants will also receive medical, psychological, nutritional and dental care during the program.

Mexican police authorities are also making an effort to improve their force’s diets, across the board.

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In a country with more cheap chicharron and tortas de tamale than ya can shake a stick at, it’s not too surprising that the authorities behind the Mexico City police force were forced to take some sort of measure regarding diet.

From October of last year, a program was kicked off to cut back on the calorie and carb intake of the force’s diets. They’ve since changed the menus of its 60 dining rooms to offer a much more balanced, low calorie diet, and have nutritionists keeping an eye on the daily fare.

While the new food regulations have supposedly been effective for many, it hasn’t been all fun and games. Some of the police have apparently struggled with the switch in focus from meat, to fruit and veg. One officer reportedly said the measure is “hard” and “leaves us very hungry.”

This comes a month after news of 625 Mexican federal police officers being rejected from the National Guard for being too heavy.

News surfaced last month that a huge number of federal police officers who wanted to move to Mexico’s new National Guard division, were instead instructed to slim down.

According to a leaked audio recording, over 625 federal police were rejected for not meeting the strict physical requirements of the National Guard. Instead, these agents were transferred to the National Immigration Institute (INM) to help control immigration at checkpoints on Mexico’s northern and southern borders during the ongoing crisis.

And obesity isn’t just a problem for the cops.

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The obesity epidemic in Mexico has skyrocketed in the last decade. More and more Mexican families are gorging on processed, sweet and saturated foods and the collective effort has turned Mexico into one of the fattest nations on the planet – with five million clinically obese people living in Mexico City.

According to WHO, Mexico has one of the highest per-capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the world. It’s estimated that almost nearly 10% of total energy intake for adults comes from sugar-sweetened beverages. Duuude.

In fact, things are so bad that the city even installed machines that give out free metro tickets in exchange for squats!

READ: Mexico City Is One Of The Must-See Cities In The World And Here’s Why

The Mexico City Metro Map Has Gone Viral After Someone Published A Version Of It In English

Culture

The Mexico City Metro Map Has Gone Viral After Someone Published A Version Of It In English

LeviVonk / Twitter

Mexico City has one of the most used transportation systems in the world – more than 4.5 million people use it every single day. And it’s a big system too! It spans some 140 miles and has 195 stations. That’s impressive.

In tourist guides, the Metro is often recommended as the best way to skip the city’s notorious traffic.

But Mexico City’s Metro is in the news now for a totally different reason – its map. Or more specifically, the English translation of the system’s map.

It all started when a map of the CDMX Metro (in English) started making its rounds on Twitter.

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A map of the network of 12 lines translated into English began to circulate on Twitter, and for non-Spanish speaking foreigners, it seemed like a great idea. Now they’d be able to better understand the map.

But it hasn’t quite worked out that way because for many the translations are far off.

The names of metro stations are often historical in nature, highlighting people, places, and events in Mexican history. There are stations commemorating aspects of the Mexican Revolution, the nation’s Indigenous history, the country’s advances in science, medicine, and sports.

Even some Mexicans appreciated the map in English because they had never been able to easily translate the Nahuatl words into English.

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Words like Tacubaya (where the water is gathered) and Chapultepec (Grasshopper Hill) have their origins in the ancient language of Nahuatl.

Few people also realize that Mexico City is home to one of the world’s few metro systems that have corresponding icons for every station.

Each station is identified by a minimalist logo, first designed by Lance Wyman, who had also designed the logo for the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Logos are generally related to the name of the station or the area around it. At the time of Line 1’s opening, Mexico’s illiteracy rate was high. In fact, in 1960, 38% of Mexicans over the age of five were illiterate and only 5.6% of Mexicans over the age of six had completed more than six years of school.

Since one-third of the Mexican population could not read or write and most of the rest had not completed high school, it was thought that people would find it easier to guide themselves with a system based on colors and visual signs.

Although the icon system was designed with the illiterate in mind, it’s also a huge help to non-Spanish speaking visitors to the city.

That system of icons and colors carries over to today. Visitors to city often remark on how easy it is to navigate the Metro system because of it.

The CDMX Metro also prides itself on being inclusive of all Mexicans.

Credit: @MetroCDMX / Twitter

Mexico City, despite being in a traditional and conservative country, takes its Pride seriously.

Though, to be clear, the CDMX Metro isn’t always so cool…

In fact, it can be a pretty major nightmare for the millions of people who use the system each and every day.

It seems like every day there is a warning tweeted out about this line being delayed or that station being overcrowded.

READ: Mexico City Is One Of The Most Interesting Places In The World. Here Are The Facts That Prove It

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