Being gay in Mexico

This interview has been made with Victor, a Mexican-born lawyer who lived for more than 30 years in Mexico, before moving to Canada with his boyfriend three years ago… This interview reflects his own experience, not a professional point of view. The issues presented here are not absolute facts, only opinions of a person that was born and lived in Mexico for a long time.

AH: Regarding to the Mexican law, how is gay sexuality seen? And gay couples?
          It is not forbidden to be gay in Mexico, it is not a crime. However, Mexican macho culture still frowns at gay issues. There hasn’t been, as far as I know, recent police action in gay bars, and not much harassment either. However, it is different for drag queens that can be harassed by public forces. But, remember that there is always the "indecent act" law, which depends on how police sees indecency: if you kiss your boyfriend on the street, they can arrest you for committing an indecent act. 
            The recognition of gay couples is definitely not like in Canada. There is a movement working to have same-sex unions, although this is not gay marriage. It’s more like a civil recognition of unions, for financial rights. I think that in the near future, there isn’t any chance same-sex unions will be recognized. Something that doesn’t help gay issues is that the power is held by a very conservative party in Mexico right now. As in the United States, the definition of wedding can be different in each state, but no state can be considered actually in advance, not even the Federal District of Mexico (where the City of Mexico is located). 
AH: Do the LGBT community has a fair access to social services?
            You have to be lucky to find a good, comprehensive social worker. But don’t forget that public social services are not the same in Mexico as they are in Canada. The public system doesn’t have the importance it has here. For many health services, you must refer to the private sector. As far as I know, homosexuality is not a subject discussed in public schools, apart from college, but some private schools can be more open. 
AH: Describe the Mexican perception of LGBT people, based on your own experience and / or what you perceived. 
            It really depends on social classes, which are more present in Mexican society than in Canadian society. Not only on the financial level, but also on the intellectual level – as people with higher education can be more open about sexual diversity. But it is not always the case…
AH: Do you see more intolerance in Mexico than in Canada ? If yes, how?
            Intolerance here is minimal, compared to its prevalence in Mexico. There, if someone is intolerant, he is 100% intolerant. There is more everyday violence, physical, psychological, etc. They marginalize gay people a lot. Your family can think you don’t exist anymore, and this happens more often then it does here. I met many people who became invisible to their relatives when they made their coming out. This is actually not my case, because I come from a very understanding family. 
            I never walk hand by hand with my boyfriend in Mexico. That’s just something I can’t do. Actually I’ve never done it anywhere. I think that if I had grown here it would be different. 
AH: Has your "couple behavior" changed since you arrived in Canada ?
            No, we have the same lifestyle here than in Mexico. We are very private and prudent.
AH: Did you arrived in Canada "out" as a gay couple ?
            Yes, all our immigration process has been done as a couple. I appreciated it a lot and I never saw any discrimination from Canadian immigration workers. There has been a lot of respect. 
AH: How do you think the Montreal gay community perceives Mexican gays (or Latino gays) ?
            There is always the stereotype of the "hot Latin boy in a Speedo"… it sometimes bothers me because people don’t see us as serious people, always flirting… once, there was a taxi driver that told to me I didn’t act like a Mexican !!
AH: And your last words are…
            I know what it is to be gay in Mexico and in Canada, and I feel free here, more relaxed. I can be myself a lot more here. I feel very comfortable to see that my classmates know I’m gay and it’s not an issue. There is a lot of respect out there, in university, in jobs, etc, even if the situation is not perfect.

About AlterHéros

Depuis 2002, AlterHéros répond à vos questions en ligne au sujet de la diversité sexuelle, de la pluralité des genres et de la santé sexuelle en général. Nous organisons aussi des activités pour les jeunes LGBTQIA2S+ de 14 à 30 ans et leurs allié.e.s.

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3 thoughts on “Being gay in Mexico

  • Julia

    Hola Victor! My name is Julia, and I’m Mexican too. I live in the F.D., but I used to live in Guadalajara. I know about being rejected by classmates, “friends” and your own family (I’m gay too). I’ve been harassed by two policemen for kissing my girlfriend on the street: they wanted us to undress, and touch us. We had to give them between $200 and $300 pesos to avoid being arrested (we hadn’t more money, we gave them everything we had). I’m happy to know that Canada is more relaxed with our community, and that you can be yourself without fear. I hope some day I could go there with my partner as you did with yours. Un abrazo!

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with some Victor’s views. I think that being educated or upper class is not necessarily related to being open-minded. In Mexico, usually upper-class people are educated in private schools which are run by Christian groups; some of these guys are really conservative. I studied all my life in schools and did my degree in a university funded by the goverment, and I never experienced serious homophobia. In fact, at the university, all my classmates were really supportive. The only bad reaction I had for my sexuality came from my parents when I told them I was gay; but my two brothers and two sisters were really nice to me. Today my parents embrace my sexuality.
    It´s important to note that just recently in secondary schools (in some Mexican states), homosexuality is being taught as one of the subjects in Biology 1.
    Of course, there´s homophobia in Mexico,for instance, I came across with some rude people on the streets (basically name calling) but I have seen the similar nasty attitude where I live today (UK).
    Mexican gay people dont need to live in Canada or the United Kingdom to be free. I live in London and in the same way I was living in Mexico. Even my bf and I have stayed at my parents.
    It´s sad that many Mexican gay people don´t react to homophobia. In relation to this, the lesbian girl who mentioned her incident with the policemen. I hope that she had reported this crime to the authorities. This is a big issue: many gay people in Mexico dont report hate crimes and I think this is wrong. The only way to change people´s attitudes is to complain formally.
    I really think that homophobia exists because gay people want it so. Some years ago, one of my friends, a transgender, was constantly harrassed by the police. One day I convinced him to report this harrassment to the Human Rights Commission (I actually went with him). Two years ago he was given a prize for his work on gay activism by the local governor.