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social sciences

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In both Mexico City and Guadalajara, there have been short-lived gay liberation groups since the early 1970s. For example, La Frente Liberación Homosexual formed in 1971 to protest the firing of gay employees by Sears stores in Mexico City. La Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria organized protests of 1983 roundups in Guadalajara, and small gay rights organizations have continued to pop up and fade away in large Mexican cities.

There are now annual gay pride marches, gay publications, and gay and lesbian organizations in touch with organizations in other countries.

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Constructions of Homosexuality

Although there have been challenges to the dominant conception of homosexuality as necessarily related to gender-crossing, the simplistic activo-pasivo logic ("I'm a man [hombre]; if I fuck you, you're not a man") continues to channel thought and behavior in Mexico, as elsewhere in Latin America.

The norteño (or North American) conception that males who have sex with males, regardless of the sexual role taken, are "homosexual" is not unknown and may account for some of the unease and outright denial sociologists Murray and Prieur elicited from activos. There is also a recognition that some seemingly ultramasculine men could be penetrated.

This phenomenon of "flipping" is frequently discussed among male transvestite prostitutes, and the pleasure of "surrender" to penetration is not inconceivable to masculine-appearing males. Indeed the prospect frightens more than a few males who have penetrated males and directly observed the reactions of the penetrated. "If I let him fuck me I'd probably like it and then I'd do it again, and then I'd be queer," is consciously articulated. "You don't know how your body might react, or your mind. Morally, you don't know what might follow. And if I am a man, I want to stay like that forever," an interviewee named Roberto told Prieur. There is even a term, hechizos (made ones), for former mayates (insertors) who have become passive partners in anal intercourse over time.

Still, the feared anal penetration does not turn everyone who has experienced it into a maricón. Nor does it inevitably compromise masculine deportment or end masculine self-conception, especially if the stigmatized behavior occurs with those who live outside one's barrio (neighborhood).

The homosexual involvement of some persons is an open secret, that of others is not discussed, and some homosexual involvement is genuinely secret. There is reticence about discussing one's own homosexuality and that of one's friends and family members. Moreover, there is the tendency to bundle sex(uality) and gender into the activo/pasivo role dichotomy. Those who are perceived as not being able to take care of themselves will "naturally" get both fucked and fucked over.

Although this understanding remains dominant in the lower classes, it is regarded as backward by middle- and upper-class male and female Mexican homosexuals who pride themselves on their modernity and cosmopolitanness. Those who reject being categorized as either pasivo or activo are labeled internacional, a term with positive connotations of sophistication and modernity.

Héctor Carrillo's study of changing sexual patterns and conceptions in Guadalajara explores middle-class sexual modernity. Surveys of self-reported sexual behavior find roles less dichotomized now than they were when the ethnography of Joseph Carrier began in the late-1960s, especially in Mexico City.

[Recent Political Advances in Mexico City

In 2006, Mexico City, the nation's capital and largest city, adopted civil unions, which gave same-sex couples many of the rights and responsibilities of married couples, though it did not convey adoption rights.

In December 2009, Mexico City's legislature passed a bill permitting same-sex marriage. The bill, which defines marriage as "the free uniting of two people," was quickly signed into law by Mayor Marcelo Ebrard. The law permits same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank loans together, and be included in the insurance policies of their spouse, as well as the rights that were provided in the domestic partnership law.

The law was bitterly denounced by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and challenged as unconstitutional by Mexico's federal government, but after the nation's highest court refused to intervene to stay the law, the city began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010.

In August 2010, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in Mexico City. On a 9-2 vote, the Court also ruled that the same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City must be recognized in all 31 Mexican states. Although the other states are not required to perform same-sex marriages themselves, they are obligated to honor the legality of all the marriages performed in Mexico City.]

Stephen O. Murray

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social sciences >> Overview:  Colombia

Although glbtq persons in Colombia continue to be the victims of discrimination and violent hate crimes because of their sexual orientation, civil rights progress has been made in recent years.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cross-Dressing

Cross-dressers have often been misunderstood and maligned, especially in societies with rigid gender roles.

literature >> Overview:  Ethnography

Ethnography, the description of indigenous non-European peoples by Euro-Americans, has been a safe way for writers to discuss homosexuality as a normal, non-pathological behavior.

social sciences >> Overview:  Ethnography

Beginning in the 1960s increasing numbers of ethnographers have conducted research on glbtq issues, spurred by the premise that studies of diverse sexualities are crucial to understanding human behavior and culture.

social sciences >> Overview:  Inquisition

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Inquisitions of Aragon and Portugal prosecuted almost 1500 trials for sodomy of various kinds.

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.

social sciences >> Overview:  Latin America: Colonial

Same-sex sexual practices among the indigenous peoples of Latin America were seen by their Spanish and Portuguese conquerors as evidence of their cultural inferiority and were repressed through both religious and civil means.

social sciences >> Overview:  Latina/Latino Americans

Latina/o glbtq communities in the U.S. pursue multiple visions, diverse politics, and a variety of struggles for identity and liberation; their efforts have helped shape the meaning of what it means to be queer and Latina and Latino in the U.S. and transnationally.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy

First used to refer only to anal intercourse, sodomy was progressively defined by the Church Fathers, and many later lawmakers, to include all sexual acts that could not result in procreation.


Carrier, Joseph M. De los Otros: Intimacy and Homosexuality among Mexican Men. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Carrillo, Héctor. The Night Is Young: Sexuality in Mexico in the Time of AIDS. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Idell, Albert. The Bernal Diaz Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 1956.

Irwin, Robert McKee, et al., eds. The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico 1901. New York: Palgrave, 2003.

Izazloa-Licea, J. A., et al. "HIV-1 Seropositivity and Behavioral and Sociological Risks among Homosexual and Bisexual Men in Six Mexican Cities." Journal of AIDS 1 (1991): 614-22.

Kimball, Geoffrey. "Aztec Homosexuality: The Textual Evidence." Journal of Homosexuality 26.1 (1993): 7-24.

Lumsden, Ian. Homosexuality, Society and the State in Mexico. Toronto: Canadian Gay Archives, 1991.

Morris, J. B., ed. Five Letters [of Hernán Cortes], 1519-1526. London: G. Routledge, 1928.

Murray, Stephen O. Latin American Male Homosexualities. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.

Novo, Salvador. Las Locas, El Sexo, Los Burdeles. Mexico: Novaro, 1972.

Paz, Octavio. El Laberinto de la Soledad. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993.

Prieur, Annick. Mema's House, Mexico City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.


    Citation Information
    Author: Murray, Stephen O.  
    Entry Title: Mexico  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated August 13, 2010  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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