Con motivo del Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos, la Embajada de Estados Unidos me invitó a dar un taller sobre derechos humanos y homofobia a jóvenes del grupo Access. Esto fue el 10 de diciembre de 2012 en la Biblioteca Benjamín Franklin:
*Este texto se publicó originalmente en The Huffington Post.
El mes pasado estuve en Los Ángeles por primera vez. Fui a la segunda edición del National People of Color Media Institute de GLAAD, un proyecto que la organización lanzó para reunir a personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y transgénero de color que trabajan en diferentes temas y comunidades, permitir que compartan sus experiencias, e impulsar su potencial como defensores y voceros de esas comunidades. El objetivo de GLAAD con este instituto y con su programa Voices of Color, a cargo de Daryl Hannah, es que haya más rostros negros, latinos y asiáticos en nuestros diarios, revistas, blogs, programas de radio y televisión. Tuve el honor de ser el primer participante extranjero.
El trabajo que GLAAD ha hecho durante casi 30 años para que los medios sean un espacio más inclusivo con personas LGBT (en Estados Unidos y cada vez más en otros lugares), y para que las historias LGBT tengan más presencia y poder en esos medios, no debe subestimarse. Sin embargo, las personas LGBT de color no tienen suficiente visibilidad en medios tradicionales. Yo diría que ni siquiera en medios LGBT. Veamos, por ejemplo, algunos personajes gays en series de televisión actuales: Louis en Partners, Kurt en Glee, Bryan en The New Normal, Cam y Mitch en Modern Family. Todos hombres blancos.
De acuerdo con el reporte de 2012 Opinión y Discurso Público sobre las Intersecciones de Asuntos LGBT y Raza, publicado por The Opportunity Agenda, los asuntos LGBT tienen pocas menciones en medios latinos en Estados Unidos, aunque la Proposición 8 de California en 2008 detonó una cobertura más amplia de asuntos LGBT en dichos medios. No sorprende, considerando la gran población de latinos en el estado. El reporte también señala que mucha de “la retórica, los insultos y el lenguaje despectivo anti-LGBT encontrados en este monitoreo de medios viene de comentarios de usuarios en línea, no de los medios como tales.” Cuando blogueaba para VivirMexico.com, era común recibir comentarios absurdos y homofóbicos como “Los jotos son una mierda de personas. Los jotos mismos tienen la culpa de que se les discrimine. Su forma de actuar es cagante y llega a ser en ocasiones irrespetuosa. Si son putos me vale madres, que se cojan entre ellos y punto, pero los amanerados me dan asco.”
Me cuesta trabajo traducir a nuestra experiencia en México el concepto de “personas de color” (“people of color“) con el peso y el significado que tiene. Raza y racismo no son temas presentes en los medios, mucho menos en conversaciones diarias fuera de la pantalla. Con frecuencia pensamos en México como una sociedad libre de racismo. Pero la discriminación más fuerte contra personas negras, por ejemplo, no es ignorar esa exclusión sino asumir que no existen aquí, excepto por uno que otro modelo en pasarelas de semanas de la moda. El Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (Conapred) ha investigado y difundido información sobre discriminación contra afrodescendientes. Fuera de eso, son prácticamente invisibles. De acuerdo con Jonathan Orozco, del área de comunicación de Conapred, no hay números oficiales sobre la comunidad afrodescendiente en México. Lo mismo que las personas LGBT, por cierto: no sabemos exactamente cuántos hay, en qué trabajan, dónde viven, etc.
Excepto por un par de piezas periodísticas o documentales sobre los muxes de Oaxaca, no recuerdo haber visto a nadie que sea LGBT e indígena en pantalla. Y no pronostico que suceda pronto, si incluso los cadeneros de algunos bares y antros gays son responsables de dejar fuera a personas con “apariencia indígena”.
He crecido en un contexto privilegiado, tuve un proceso de salir del clóset prácticamente libre de drama, tengo familiares gays y lesbianas, vivo en la única ciudad del país donde puedo casarme con mi novio, y aun así he experimentado una sociedad homofóbica. Apenas puedo imaginarme cómo son las cosas para alguien en el otro extremo del México racista y clasista.
¿Dónde están todas esas caras en las páginas de revistas, en anuncios de sitios de ligue por internet, en programas de televisión? Para un grupo que es blanco de tanta intolerancia, los medios LGBT podemos hacer un mejor trabajo abordando esos otros tipos de discriminación que existen al interior de nuestra comunidad.
Three couples — Lizeth Citlalli Martínez Hernandez and María Monserrat Ordóñez Narváez, Jesús Reyes Álvarez and Guillermo Emmanuel Martínez Pimental and Karina Mendieta Pérez and Gabriela Castellanos Mota — tried to apply for marriage licenses in Oaxaca, but local authorities denied their applications.
Lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz filed lawsuits on behalf of two of the couples in Aug. 2011 and a third in January who sought legal recourse, known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system, that would ensure local authorities would protect their constitutional rights. Geraldina González de la Vega, a lawyer who advised Méndez, noted to the Washington Blade this “remedy can be used against laws or acts of authority” in Mexico.
A Oaxacan court in April ruled in favor of Martínez and Ordóñez, but against Reyes and Martínez and Mendieta and Castellanos. An appellate judge in August cited the Mexican constitution that bans anti-gay discrimination in his ruling that ordered Oaxacan authorities to allow same-sex marriages.
The state’s governor and Congress petitioned the Mexican Supreme Court to review the case — Méndez also asked the tribunal to determine the criteria under which the Oaxacan marriage law should be understood.
“The court did not declare the unconstitutionality of the law, but the effect of its application is that the justices said that one would have to understand marriage is a contract celebrated between two people without any reference to the sex of those who enter into it,” Méndez told the Washington Blade during an interview from Mexico City hours after the justices issued their decision.
Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the Mexican capital since 2010, and the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled other states must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in Mexico City. Same-sex couples have also married in Quintana Roo, which includes the resort city of Cancún on the Yucután Peninsula.
The state of Coahuila offers property and inheritance rights and other limited legal protections to same-sex couples.
The latest Mexican Supreme Court decision only applies to Oaxaca, but advocates maintain these cases will open the doors to same-sex marriages across the country.
González noted the court needs to issue five rulings before the “amparo” will “have general effects” throughout the country.
“We already have three,” she said.
“These cases set a precedent that can be invoked in any other state in Mexico,” Méndez added. “While it is not obligatory for those who must resolve these new cases, there is a high possibility that the result will be the same as what we have obtained in Oaxaca.”
Enrique Torre Molina, an LGBT activist and blogger in Mexico City, agreed.
“It’s not going to be long before same-sex marriage is a reality in the whole country,” he told the Blade on Wednesday. “It’s a matter of same-sex couples who have been thinking about getting married and haven’t done it either because they’re not in Mexico City and traveling is not an option or because they were going to get no for an answer. It’s just a matter of time of trying it out as these couples in Oaxaca [did] and sort of contribute to this history.”
The Mexican Supreme Court issued its ruling hours after a Colombian Senate committee approved a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage. Senators in the South American country are expected to debate the bill on Tuesday.
Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Argentina since 2010. Neighboring Uruguay allow civil unions for gays and lesbians, but the country’s lawmakers are expected to debate a same-sex marriage measure on Tuesday.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in February ruled in favor of lesbian Chilean Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband in 2005 because of her sexual orientation. Three gay Chilean couples who had been denied marriage licenses filed a lawsuit with the tribunal in September after the country’s Supreme Court ruled against them.
The Mexican Supreme Court cited the Atala case in its decision.
“Our country has already been sanctioned on many occasions by the IACHR,” Méndez said. “Our country, being part of this Inter-American system, will have to follow this trend in regard to protecting the human rights of the LGBT community.”
J. Lester Feder, a former Politico reporter who has covered the same-sex marriage throughout Latin America for four months for his blog AfterMarriage.org, noted to the Blade from Oaxaca that courts throughout the region often look to those in other countries in reaching their own decisions. He said the Atala case is one of the legal precedents the Oaxacan couples used in their successful lawsuits.
Justice José Ramón Cossío told CNN en Español he expects the same-sex marriage could become a reality throughout the country within a few months.
“The three cases are effective with respect to the state of Oaxaca,” he said. “By the position that we have on the Supreme Court as the country’s highest tribunal, it is foreseeable that if other people from other federal entities challenged a code that had a similar condition, the court would reiterate its criteria and within the next few months will guarantee the juris prudence that will become mandatory.”
“It means that it’s very likely universal marriage rights are going to be available in Mexico well before the United States,” he said. “International human rights law in the Americas is [increasingly interpreting] marriage rights as human rights, but the United States legal system doesn’t internalize international norms. We’re not participating in that trend.”
*This post was originally published on The Huffington Post‘s Gay Voices and Latino Voices.
Last month I was in Los Angeles for the first time. I attended GLAAD’s second edition of the National People of Color Media Institute, an awesome project GLAAD launched to bring together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people of color working on different issues and in different communities, have them share their experiences, and enhance their potential as advocates and spokespeople for those communities. The aim of GLAAD through this institute and their Voices of Color program, led by Daryl Hannah, is to bring more Black, Latino, and Asian faces to our newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio and television shows. I was honored to be the first non-U.S. resident who participated.
The work GLAAD has done to make media a more inclusive space for LGBT people (in the U.S. and increasingly elsewhere), and to make LGBT stories more present and powerful in that media for almost 30 years, cannot be understated. However, LGBT people of color are not visible enough on mainstream media. And I would say not even on LGBT media. Look at, for example, gay characters who are on TV shows right now: Louis on Partners, Kurt on Glee, Bryan on The New Normal, Cam and Mitch on Modern Family. All white guys.
According to The Opportunity Agenda’s Public Opinion and Discourse on the Intersections of LGBT Issues and Race 2012 report, LGBT issues are under-reported in Latino media in the U.S., although California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 drove those media to have a wider coverage of LGBT issues. Not surprising, considering the large population of Latinos in the state. The report also points out that much “of the anti-LGBT rhetoric, slurs, and derogatory language found in this media scan come from users’ online comments, not from the media themselves.” When I blogged for VivirMexico.com, I would often get very homophobic, moronic comments from readers, such as “Fags are shitty people. Fags themselves are to be blamed of being discriminated against. Their attitude is annoying and some times disrespectful. If they’re fags I don’t care. Fuck with each other and that’s it, but the sissy ones are disgusting.”
I have a hard time translating the concept of “people of color” with all its heavy, powerful meaning to our experience in Mexico. Race and racism are not topics present on the media, much less on off-screen daily conversations. We often think of Mexico as a racism-free society. But the strongest form of discrimination against black people, for example, is not ignoring their exclusion but actually thinking there aren’t any here, except for the occasional model on a Mexico City fashion week runway. The National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred) has done research and spread information on discrimination against people of African descent. Other than that, they are practically invisible. According to Jonathan Orozco, a communication staffer at Conapred, there are no official numbers on the African descent community living in Mexico. Same goes for LGBTs, by the way: we don’t know exactly how many of us are there, working as what, living where, etc.
Except for a couple of pieces or documentaries on the muxes living in Oaxaca, I can’t recall seeing anyone who was LGBT and indigenous on screen. And I don’t foresee it happening any time soon, if even bouncers at some gay bars and clubs are responsible for leaving “indigenous-looking” people out.
Growing up in a privileged background, having a mostly harmless coming-out process, being surrounded by other gays and lesbians in my family, and living in the only city in the country where I can marry my boyfriend has let me experience a homophobic society. I can only imagine what things are like for someone on the other end of racist, classist Mexico.
Where are all those faces in the pages of gay magazines, on the ads of hookup websites, on TV shows? For a group that is such a target of bigotry, we as LGBT media could do a lot better to address those other types of exclusion happening within our community.