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Zapata, Luis (b. 1951)  

Luis Zapata is Mexico's most successful and productive gay writer. Between 1975 and 1990, he published four novels and a novelette in which the main character is either denotatively or connotatively gay.

In 1981, his critically acclaimed Las aventuras, desventuras y sueños de Adonis García, el vampiro de la colonia Roma became the first Latin-American gay novel to be translated into English. Two years later, his short story "De amor es mi negra pena" gave the title to Winston Leyland's collection of Latin-American gay fiction, My Deep Dark Pain Is Love.

Zapata has used a wide array of writing styles and techniques to present a variety of homosexual types and situations; taken together they offer a broad look into Mexican gay culture.

Born and raised in an upper middle-class family in provincial Chilpancingo, Zapata's childhood, like Alvaro's in La hermana secreta de Angélica María (The Secret Sister of Angelica María), revolved around going to the movies. His adolescent writings, were screenplays, often comedies about recent newlyweds.

These details, taken from his autobiographical De cuerpo entero (Looking Back), explain several elements of his work: the prominent function of cinema and popular culture, the application of humor, and his tendency both to mock and relish and finally to co-opt traditional heterosexual fantasies.

In 1975, he published his first work, Hasta en las mejores familias (Even in the Best Families), which traces the relationship between an alienated, sexually ambivalent youth and his father, a closeted homosexual.

Four years later, Zapata published Las aventuras.... The work is presented as a transcript of a taped monologue recounting the adventures of a local hustler, Adonis García, a sexy and highly sexed, often wasted, street kid.

In 1983, Zapata published Melodrama, a camp novelette about a love-conquers-all relationship between a dynamic and athletic youth and a handsome, married detective.

Two years later, En jirones (In Shreds) appeared. The novel is a narrative in the form of a diary of an obsessive relationship between two young professionals: one gay-identified and the other straight-identified and eventually married.

Zapata's 1989 novel La hermana secreta... is the story of Alvaro, a in love with the cinema. He has also written several short stories with a gay theme, included in his 1983 and 1989 collections.

Traits common in his works include a linguistic and stylistic playfulness and a democratic presentation of homosexual types. Zapata indulges the gay reader through his use of camp, narrative tease, and sexual explicitness. His subject matter tends toward the melodramatic, romantic, or marginal.

Heterosexuality appears almost exclusively in terms of families, and these are often presented as clichés. Hypocrisy revealed and accepted is a common resolution to the conundrum of homosexual pleasure versus heterosexual family duties.

There are no lesbians in his literature, and the few female characters are generally mothers or sisters. In writing about a marginal and repressed culture, his fiction also has some qualities of protest literature.

Maurice Westmoreland


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literature >> Overview:  Latin American Literature

Although Latin Americans have produced many works that have homoerotic themes or gay and lesbian characters, their sensibilities are largely different from those of North American and European writers.


Foster, David William. Gay and Lesbian Themes in Latin American Writing. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991.

_____. Review of Luis Zapata, Adonis García: A Picaresque Novel. Trans. E. A. Lacey, and Winston Leyland, ed. My Deep Dark Pain Is Love: A Collection of Latin American Gay Fiction. Chasqui 13.1 (November 1983): 90-92.

Jaén, Didier T. "La Neo-Picaresca en México: Elena Poniatowska y Luis Zapata." Tinta 1.5 (Spring 1987): 23-29.

Leyland, Winston, ed. My Deep Dark Pain Is Love: A Collection of Latin American Gay Fiction. Trans. E. A. Lacey. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1983.

Schaefer-Rodriguez, Claudia. "The Power of Subversive Imagination: Homosexual Utopian Discourse in Contemporary Mexican Literature." Latin American Literary Review 33 (1989): 29-41.

Schneider, Luis Mario. "El tema homosexual en la nueva narrativa mexicana." Casa del tiempo [Mexico] 49-50 (1985): 82-86.

Torres-Rosado, Santos. "Canon and Innovation in Adonis García: A Picaresque Novel." Revista monográfica 7 (1991): 276-283.

Westmoreland, Maurice. "Camp in the Works of Luis Zapata." Modern Language Studies 25.2 (1995): 45-59.


    Citation Information
    Author: Westmoreland, Maurice  
    Entry Title: Zapata, Luis  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated November 23, 2002  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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