18 October 2006

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.