As Orlando and the world try to make sense of the horrific attack on an LGBTQ club in Orlando, Familia:TQLM talked with people in the trans and queer community about the incident. The timing of the attack — it took place on the club’s “Latin Night” — is more than an attack on the LGBTQ community, but on people of color that exist within the LGBTQ community. The feeling of being marginalized on two fronts is the theme of this emotional and impactful video. According to those in the video, the attack in Orlando is another example of the country’s long-standing history of violence against “queer and trans people of color.”
“What happened in Orlando is not new, because we, people of color, have a history in the U.S. of never mattering,” Alan Pelaez Lopez says in the video. “We have a history of enslavement, we have a history of exploitation, we have a history of criminalization, and we have a history of violence. And that is what happened today.”
The video is also a call for ALL people of color and minority groups to unite and fight for equal rights, protections and progress.
Miss Universe made history this year. First crowning Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi as its winner. Tunzi has dark skin and a short-cropped afro — rampant anti-blackness means most people would not have conceived of her as the most desirable woman in the universe just a few years ago. Tunzi’s win is a win for black women across the universe but she wasn’t the only victor that night, even if she reigned supreme.
Swe Zin Htet, Miss Myanmar, is the pageant’s first openly gay contestant. In fact, Htet came out publicly only a week before the pageant’s final round. The competition hasn’t had an out contestant in its 67-year history. In Myanmar, homosexuality is illegal. Not only was Htet making a stance in Miss Universe, but in a country where she could face very real consequences, including an imprisonment sentence of 10 years to life.
Htet comes out to help the LGBTQ community back home.
The 21-year-old contestant wants to use her influence to change the laws against homosexuality in Burma, Myanmar. Members of the LGBTQ community in Burma still face all levels of discrimination and ostracization in society.
“I have that platform that, if I say that I’m a lesbian, it will have a big impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma,” Htet said. “The difficult thing is that in Burma, LGBTQ people are not accepted. They are looked down on by other people and are being discriminated against.”
Htet came out on November 29 in an interview with a beauty blog called Missosology. When asked if Htet had any personal causes she told the interviewer that she strongly supported same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. It was only a matter of moments before she proudly revealed she was a lesbian herself.
“I came to a full realization about my sexual orientation over a long period of time. I knew I was ‘one of them’ way back in 2015. It is personally quite challenging but I feel that I have a greater voice and the best position to promote this cause. Some pageant fans know about it and they still support me but this is the first time I am able to talk about it in public,” she told Missosology.
Coming out wasn’t easy, but Htet hopes it will have a positive change.
Htet told People that coming out wasn’t easy. She knew who she was since she was 15 at least, but her parents weren’t immediately as understanding as she had hoped.
“At first, they were mad. They didn’t accept me. But later, when they found out more about the LGBTQ community, they started to accept me,” she said.
Because LGBTQ members experience bigotry in her country, when she entered a three-year relationship with the famous Burmese singer Gae Gae, she had to keep it a secret. The contestant received praise from Paula Shugart, president of The Miss Universe Organization.
“We are honored to give a platform to strong, inspirational women like Miss Universe Myanmar, who are brave enough to share their unique stories with the world,” Shugart said in a statement. “Miss Universe will always champion women to be proud of who they are.”
While Htet is the first out and proud lesbian in the Miss Universe pageant, there have been other open members of the LGBTQ community. Last year, Angela Ponce, who happens to be trans, was crowned Miss Spain.
Black women reign supreme in the pageant world for the first time ever.
Hip Latina notes that in 2019, for the first time ever, Miss America, Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe were all black women. The times, they’re changing! Beauty pageants have been known to promote a white European, cis, thin standard of beauty. While these wins are symbolic they do represent that the larger public perception of black women’s beauty is evolving.
“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me—with my kind of skin and my kind of hair—was never considered to be beautiful,” Tunzi said as she was crowned. “I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
Even Oprah Winfrey spoke out about the historic win.
Oprah Winfrey congratulated Tunzi on Twitter and invited her to speak at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Leadership was on Tunzi’s mind as well when she won.
She said, “I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity and that is what we should be teaching these young girls—to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”
Sometimes, fashion is more than just a mirror of society. In a few instances, the fashion industry has actually been responsible for reshaping reality rather than just mirroring it. One way it does this is by breaking taboos and introducing marginalized ideas into the mainstream. The current visibility of transgender people is a development that the fashion world has embraced in recent years. Granted, fashion’s focus on the topic is, more often than not, on the “blurring of traditional lines between genders” to explore androgyny, but many designers and brands are currently emphasizing on a ‘gender-neutral’ and non-binary ethos. The editorial side of fashion however, has been a bit slow to embrace representation and support genderqueer people—but this month, Vogue Mexico and Latin-America, in collaboration with British Vogue, are leading the charge, by dedicating their cover story to a small group of people in Juchitán Oaxaca who seek to live outside of binary labels: Los Muxes.
Vogue Mexico and Latin-America has proven to be the most ‘woke’ publication of Conde Nast’s portfolio this year.
The magazine has doubled up on its efforts for representation and diversity. Just this year they made history by featuring an indigenous woman, Yalitza Aparicio, on the cover of a magazine for the very first time, ever. A few months later they featured four Afro-Latinas on their cover and opened the floor to discussion about what being Afro-Latina means. Just last month they honored indigenous women of different parts of Latin America for their 20th anniversary issue. And now, the magazine is shining a light on a centuries-old non-binary indigenous community of rural Mexico, and introducing them to the world.
In recent years, Oaxaca has become somewhat of a trendy destination.
The Zapotec state is a multicultural hub in the south of Mexico known for its delicious climate, rich food and complex history. The people of Oaxaca have fought hard to keep a lot of their centuries-old traditions and beliefs alive, and one of these beliefs —or rather, a group of people— is called “muxes.”
In Juchitán, a small indigenous town in Southern Oaxaca, a community of individuals known as ‘Muxes’, seek to live free of binary labels “male” and “female.”
The word muxes also spelled muxhes in some instances, comes from the Spanish word for woman “mujer,” and it generally represents people who are assigned male at birth, but identify as non-binary. Muxes have their own gender identity, different from what the West has traditionally dubbed to be female and male.
The iterations among the Muxe community and their self-identifications vary – some identify as male but are female-expressing, while others identify as female and are more closely associated with Western culture’s understanding of transgender. In their culture, the term “third gender” might be more suitable to define Muxes.
Muxes are ‘dual’ beings, they don’t believe in being ‘female’ or ‘male’, they simply are.
“To be muxe is a duality. We carry out the role depending on the circumstances, sometimes I might seem like a man, and others like a woman,” says Pedro Enriquez Godínez Gutiérrez, a person known locally in Juchitán as “La Kika,” in an interview with Vogue Mexico. Apart from being a muxe, he’s the Director of Sexual Diversity of Juchitán Town Hall.
Muxes have lived in Juchitan since pre-hispanic times, there are a few indigenous legends that explain their origins and give a faith to the antiquity of their existence.
There are two legends in Juchitán, that recount the origin of Muxes. One says that San Vicente Ferrer, the holy patron of Juchitán, had a pocket with holes in it, from which they fell out of. Another version says that as he walked the earth, San Vicente Ferrer, always carried three bags: one with male seeds, another loaded with female seeds, and a third that contained both seeds, mixed up. This last bag was the one that broke as he walked through Juchitán, and that is why there are so many muxes there.
The people of Juchitán are a sort of pre-hispanic family. In this town the women are as strong as the men and muxes are as respected as both men and women. Ironically, the system of tolerance and respect that’s existed there for centuries is considered ‘modern’, elsewhere.
Mixes are a community that not even the 21st century can wrap its head around.
“Gubixha bizaani guirá neza guzá ca,” writes Vogue Mexico, is Zapotec for “the sun illuminated all the roads they have walked”, and perhaps that is why they can walk the streets without fear in a predominantly Catholic country that still struggles to offer equal rights for women and that is mostly intolerant of sexual orientations and preferences, Juchitán remains greatly untouched by this hate. Muxes walk the streets with flowers in their hair, they wear light huipiles —a traditional garment worn by indigenous women— and colorful skirts. This indigenous town is a model of how a culture can make space for life outside of the binary. Juchitán is an example to even the most progressive cities of the world.
Vogue Mexico and Latin America teamed up with British Vogue to celebrate both British and Mexican talent.
The collaboration marked the first time both publications work together on a joint story. The experience allowed both publications to exchange ideas and share their cultures. Vogue Mexico’s cover, featuring Estrella, one of the muxes from Juchitán, was shot by Tim Walker, the iconic British fashion photographer, and the story will be published on both magazines for the month of December.
Vogue Mexico’s Editor-In-Chief took to Instagram to share the news of the cover story.
“It’s finally here!!! We are releasing one of our December covers early as it is a special joint collaboration with @britishvogue – thank you @edward_enninful for featur[ing] the beauty of MEXICO in the pages of British Vogue. No one could have captured the magical realism better than Tim Walker and Kate Phelan. Stay tuned for more!” wrote the Mexican editor Karla Martinez de Salas on her personal Instagram page.
Vogue Mexico’s December issue will be available nation-wide starting December 1st.
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