After Being Called A Homophobic Slur, This Man Is Taking Back The Term And Using It To Uplift And Empower Latino LGBTQ
Alberto Mendoza is a man on a mission: to build an online community for LGBTQ Latinxs. Mendoza founded the non-profit organization Honor41 to showcase the great things LGBTQ Latinxs are doing around the country in fields like journalism, activism, politics and entertainment.
The people at Honor41 are recognizing LGBTQ Latinxs living their lives out and proud while contributing to their respective fields.
“Honor41 envisions a world where Latina/o LGBTQ individuals can live their lives with honor, by being ‘out,’ with acceptance from their families and community, and fully integrated in all aspects of society,” reads the Honor41 website.
“What I knew was missing for me and what I knew was missing for a lot of [LGBTQ Latinxs] was the visibility of positive role models,” Alberto Mendoza told NBC News.
According to NBC Out, Mendoza’s decision to start Honor41 comes from the fact that LGBTQ people have very little visibility within Latinx entertainment and media, while mainstream LGBTQ media often ignores LGBTQ people of color.
The use of the number 41 has special meaning for Mendoza, who is Mexican-American, with its roots in El Baile De Los 41 or The Dance Of The 41.
In an interview with People En Español, Mendoza went more in depth about the significance of the number 41 for Mexico’s LGBTQ community.
“In Mexico, in 1901, there was a group of men in high society that were known to have these gatherings or events. They were known to be, perhaps, homosexuals. On this particular night [Nov. 18, 1901] they had a dance and there were 42 of them; half dressed as men and half dressed as women. But at one point, the cops came in, broke into the party, beat them all up then sent them to jail. But one of them was the son-in-law of then-President Porfirio Díaz, so they released him, and the remaining 41 essentially disappeared. The families either had to pay to get them out of jail and out of town, or the families did not claim them, or those who did not have money were sent to the Yucatan to work camps and essentially disappeared, never to be heard from again.”
In honor of the 41 “disappeared” LGBTQ Mexicans, Honor41 recognizes 41 prominent LGBTQ Latinxs from different backgrounds and professions.
Mendoza hopes that using the number 41 in the organization’s name will help reclaim a number that has been used as a coded homophobic slur in Mexico for more than 100 years. Mendoza told NBC Out that he was constantly plagued by the number, particularly from bullies who would chant it at him while he was in high school.
Mendoza wants for Honor41 to be a beacon of hope for LGBTQ Latinxs youths to know that they will be okay.
“Everyone has a story, so having the opportunity to capture the stories of these amazing role models and sharing them with others is incredible,” Mendoza told The Fight magazine.
Honor41 has been around since 2013 and its members want this project to bring pride to LGBTQ Latinxs.
“The word ‘Honor’ means pride in English and Spanish,” the organization’s website reads. “By adopting 41 in our name, we take away the negative, oppressive power associated [with] the number; we educate others about this important moment in LGBTQ history; we honor their legacy; and honor our own lives and contributions to society.”
Check out this video with more information of El Baile De Los 41.
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