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Ultrasonicas in concert

The members Ultrasonicas have been adding their loud female voices to Mexico City’s punk rock scene for well over ten years, playing their riot girl/garage/rock hits at the Foro Alicia, the Mercado del Chopo, and other DF punk venues. Made up of Jenny Bombo, Roxxy Glam, and the ubiquitous Ali Gua Gua, this iconic Mexican female punk band will be performing at Cabaretito Fusion on April 7 as part of the second LGBT Festival of Rock.

If Ali Gua Gua’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she’s been mentioned on this blog many times in various incarnations: DJ-about-town DJ Guagüis, one-woman electroclash act Afrodyke (a “autopiracy” cover of former collaborator Afrodite), and as the lead singer of our favorite queer cumbia punk band, the Kumbia Queers. If you like Ali Gua Gua’s later work, or if you just like tough-ass chicks with guitars, come see Ultrasonicas play their hits in a queer venue.

Ultrasonicas; Thursday, April 7, 2011, 11pm; Cabaretito Fusion, 77 Londres, Zona Rosa; 5511 1613, no cover for women

poetry reading by artemisa tellez

This Monday, local writer, performer, and activist Artemisa Tellez will be performing poems from her new collection Cuerpo de mi Soledad. Her previous published works include an earlier poetry collection Versos Cautivos (2001), and a collection of short stories, Un Encuentro y Otros (2005), as well as essays and short stories published in various anthologies.

Although she among a younger generation of Mexican writers, Tellez has been quite active in the local feminist literary scene, leading lesbian writing workshops, and working to help organize the TTTrans Festival as well as the Festival of Rock, Film, and Sexual Diversity. For more information about Artemisa Tellez’s activism and the queer perspective she brings to her work, read our 2009 interview with her.

Monday’s reading will feature musical accompaniment by Tellez’s frequent performance partner, guitarist and singer Chichis Glam, as well as commentary from contemporary writers Reyna Barrera, Odette Alonso, and Marielena Olivera.

The event funs from 7 to 8 pm at the Casa del Poeta, Alvaro Obregon 73, Colonia Roma. No cover.

Chavela Vargas, age 91, still breaking hearts with her voice

As a new commuter, I’ve listened to more NPR this month than I have the total of the rest of my life. This weekend, I was thrilled to catch this segment on All Things Considered on hot contemporary, but traditional Mexican music. “World music” reviewer and Veracruz native Betto Arcos recommends four albums in honor of Mexico’s bicentennial this month, each highlighting a different style of regional Mexican music. Ernesto Anaya plays huapangos from the northeast, Eugenia Leon uses her powerhouse of a voice to sing some bolero among other styles, and the Banda Regional Mixe brings their own energy to traditional Oaxacan brass band music.

Also making the list is Chavela Vargas, legendary ranchera singer, who at 91 has recorded a new album in which she collaborates with various other musicians. The radio segment discusses her decades-long career, interrupted for many years by her battles with alcoholism, the heart-wrenching tone of her voice, and her creative relationship with Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar. Disappointingly, it doesn’t even mention the fact that she is openly lesbian: she came out ten years ago at the age of 81.

Despite this omission, the segment is still worth checking out, as are all the musicians mentioned.

Puebla establishes an annual “Day Against Homophobia”

Can a facade of gay-friendliness help build a foundation?

The legislature of the state of Puebla voted this week to name May 17th “el Día Estatal Contra la Homofobia.” Though the measure appears to be purely symbolic, according to El Universal, supporters hope it will help lay the groundwork in the fight against homophobia in the notoriously conservative state of Puebla.

Brahim Zamora Salazar, president of the Democracy and Sexuality Network of Puebla (Red Democracia y Sexualidad), was quick to criticize the federal corollary of this day, vaguely named the Día de la Tolerancia y Respeto hacia las Preferencias (Day of Tolerance and Respect for Preferences):

“If the federal government–because of its homophobic and intolerant beliefs–insists on ignoring the problem by using a euphemism, then we in the states will push initiatives that do name the problem and spell it out in plain letters: homophobia is a problem in our society that needs to be named, condemned, and attacked.”

So, kudos to the 31 state legislators who voted for the measure, and let’s hope it’s the beginning of other, more meaningful legislation. If the comments on El Universal’s article are any indication, there is clearly still a lot of work to be done.

Mexico City invites Argentina’s first same-sex married couple for a free honeymoon

The Mexico City tourism board is doing a good job promoting Mexico City as a gay-friendly tourist destination: their offer of a free D.F. honeymoon for Argentina’s first same-sex married couple has been reported by more mainstream media sources than I would have guessed.

Although the municipality of Mexico City has been performing same-sex marriages locally since March, today, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. I can only hope that Mexico (and the United States, and everywhere else…) follow in the footsteps of the “Southern Cone.”

Second Gay March in Oaxaca*

In case some Machas are enjoying Oaxaca City this summer, the second calenda is taking place this Saturday, July 10th. This year the motto is All people, all rights. Let’s celebrate being proud of who we are.

I think this will be an excellent opportunity to meet LGBT organizations based in that beautiful city.

The list of organizers is long: Red Oaxaqueña, Diáspora Feminista, Diversidades A.C., Colectivo Luzónica, Disidencia Queer, Colectivo Arcoíris, Red Nacional de Jóvenes Católicos por el Derecho a Decidir, CDD, Demysex Oaxaca, GLOBOCORPO, Sociedad Civil y Colectivo AAA.

Let us know how it was!

Segunda Marcha Calenda por la Diversidad Sexual, July 10th 2010, from Fuente de las 8 Regiones to the Zócalo, 12pm, Oaxaca City.

*Catron, thanks again for sharing information with us.

Primera Marcha Calenda Por la Diversidad Sexual, June 27th, from Paseo Juárez “El Llano” to the Zócalo, 12 p.m., Oaxaca City.

Guadalajara: macha central

the author macheando at D'Planet in Guadalajara

If you are a queer woman, go to Guadalajara!!! And if you want to party it up at GDL’s only “macha” bar, go to D’Planet Bar! After being in 8 Mexican cities over a period of 4 months, I observed more queer women out and proud in GDL than anywhere else. D’Planet recently opened in early 2010 and everyone needs to support it to keep it around. The owner is named Marlou and she is friendly, accomodating and all around awesome! My girlfriend and I were staying in GDL for the month of February (10′) and we had some friends from Brooklyn, NY visit us. The four of us were so psyched to go to a dyke bar together in Mexico. We walked into D’Planet on a Thursday night and were immediately greeted and HUGGED by the bi-lingual owner, Marlou.

Now, that’s a warm welcome! We told her we were looking for food around the neighborhood but couldn’t find any and preferred to eat something before we started drinking. She told us not to worry and that she would find us food. She took our vegetarian orders and ran to the nearest restaurant and brought us all back dinner! We couldn’t believe the hospitality around here! We had a blast dancing, hanging out and playing pool.

Marlou said the most happening nights are usually Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Of course everyone is welcome here but the main clientele are queer women. And I am sure you have figured out what the bar is named after, so for an added bonus, you can take your picture in front of the huge L Word poster by the pool table!

Check out D’Planet online at for more pics and events at the bar.

D’Planet;  Bélgica #643 on the corner of Niños Héroes in Colonia Americana, Guadalajara

Carlos Monsiváis and the chronicle we will never read

Like many in Mexico City I long admired Monsiváis, but–like few–I had the privilege of becoming his best friend for three long, amazing and wonderful days.

This was the third time I organized a conference where he was the key note speaker. And the first time that despite canceling last minute, I convinced him to take the red eye flight from Mexico City to Montreal to give his keynote. It was the middle of winter and it was horrible, so I awaited Monsiváis at the airport fully equipped with winter clothes, which he denied at first but after feeling the first wave of cold air freezing everything including his eye balls, he conceded to the hat, the gloves, the coat, the scarf, etc. The conversation took us to the different AIDS treatments in Mexico and Canada and very soon after my many awkward attempts to impress him the magic happened: I think we clicked. He said, “Call me Carlos.”

During the three days we spent together I noticed his humbleness and was privileged to get a taste of what characterized him: his way of chronicling reality, making an art out of irony. We were witnessing similar things, while walking on the street buying movies, having dinner at a fancy restaurant with important McGill officers, attending an artsy private screening of a porn film, waiting on an elevator, eating lunch, yet he notice a different reality — always sharp, without any warning and full of irony — and chronicled it to me, the spectator.

What I first thought after hearing the news was: What am I going to think now?  What am I going to know what I am supposed to think? Not that we can not think for ourselves, but no one can equal his capacity to synthesize personal, political, past, future, present, local, and humorously, and to do it in one article that denounces the evil  and highlights the advantages of  everything from policies, treaties and politicians, to songs and cultural events. There are innumerable things we lost with his passing away. There is no space for a public intellectual anymore, that figure that is beyond academia and activism, who belongs to both and is an authority not only to the fellow critics and people but to the government.  He was our public intellectual and he is gone. And his humor is gone too. How are we going to laugh at tragedy now?

Then I thought I missed out in a chronicle of a Mexico he only knew through his personal romantic encounters. In Macha Mexico’s last post on Monsiváis, Anahí talks about how Monsivais never came out of the closet publicly yet he was one of the main defenders of the LGBT rights in Mexico, always writing against homophobia and most recently in favor of the same-sex marriage in Mexico City.

It got me thinking. Yes, I wanted to read a chronicle of all his love affairs. I wanted him to write and for all of us to know that Mexico of high level politicians, of pop icons, of random cabaretito personalities, of ambassadors, of particular secretary’s of governors, of protégées. What will Mexico look like if every one of them was outed by a posthuma novel written by Monsiváis? I couldn’t believe the Mexico that was opening before my eyes when Carlos shared with me his personal affairs. Yet, now, it got me thinking.

In the Anglo Euro-American world a primary level of identification is gender and sexuality and there is the assumption that more visibility equals more freedom and civil rights. But I think, we in Latin America have to be more cautious with this assumption. More visibility doesn’t necessary equal more power. We are millions of brown people in Mexico City, thousands of indigenous yet racism is more than prevalent — actually there was a protest not long ago where many campesinos and campesinas protested at the Zocalo, this time naked  thinking it will gain them more visibility. It did, but not from the the government and their pleas were not heard.

I was pleased that the LGBT community claimed a place in the ceremony of Monsiváis’ wake, as much as the UNAM and Mexico’s flags did. But I am most happy that although Carlos shared so much with Mexico, he kept so much more for himself. Yes, we should not be scared of talking about sexuality  but it doesn’t guarantee more freedom. It also got me thinking about private-public. Heterosexuality needs no coming out, yet for non-normative sexual identities, not only there is no privacy but the pressure to become “visible for the cause.” I am all for more visibility  but if we want to learn from the LGBTT movement in the Anglo Euro-American world, identifying primarily through gender and sexuality is not a guarantee of  civil rights and it cannot be measured in quantifying or qualifying terms. There is really no binary division, no way of measuring the power of saying or not saying  and silence too,  can be very powerful.

Macha Mexico is honored to publish this unique perspective on the passing of Carlos Monsiváis. Thank you, Susanísima, for sharing this account and your ideas in this space.

Gay Pride in Mexico City

The traditional gay parade of Mexico City will be celebrated next weekend. It will depart from Ángel de la Independencia to Zócalo at 12 pm. There is along list of organizations that will march next Saturday that range from politics to media and parents of LGBT people. Like every year, those who refuse to march will complain about how this march has become more a carnival than an expression of protest or political fight for LGBT rights and other issues (just like Judith Butler did during the Berlin gay parade last Saturday…).

The main poster is after the jump, and if you look for more information about who is organizing this event click here. If you look for an after party, click here. Although you will have plenty of options, since people will share flayers about parties during the whole march.

Marcha del Orgullo LGBTTTI 2010, June 26th, departing from Ángel de la Independencia to Zócalo, 12hrs.

“Lo que se ve no se pregunta”: Carlos Monsiváis, 1938-2010

Last Saturday, during Carlos Monsiváis’ wake at Museo de la Ciudad de México, a group of young people unfolded a gay flag and put it on the writer’s coffin. Someone tried to take it away, but the group insisted and placed it right between Mexico and UNAM flags. So far, only one journalist has talked explicitly about Monsiváis’ sexuality and his links with the Mexican LGBT community.

A similar episode (link in Spanish) took place again during the wake in Bellas Artes. This time, it was the Mexican journalist Jenaro Villamil who put the rainbow flag on the casket despite the negative reaction of Consuelo Sáizar, president of the National Council for Culture and Arts (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes).

A third episode of awkwardness was described by Andrés Duque, when musician and LGBT activist Horacio Franco not only played the flute right next to the casket, but also confirmed the rumors about Monsiváis’ sexuality in an interview with a LGBT website.

Carlos Monsiváis was one of the most influential intellectuals and writers in Mexico. He was a prolific author who also learned how to use radio and TV in order to disseminate his opinions about the PRI, the Catholic church and the conservative groups that dominate the Mexican government under the PAN’s rule.

Carlos Monsiváis' wake at Bellas Artes, via La Jornada

Above all, Monsi, as many of his fans called him, was considered the undisputed chronicler of Mexico City, where passers by could recognize him on the street—a privilege that very few intellectuals have, given the separation between academia and so-called popular culture in Mexico. Monsiváis was born and brought up within a Presbyterian family in San Simon Ticumac, a poor neighborhood of Mexico City, a fact that other intellectuals of his same generation with well-to-do backgrounds despised, making Monsiváis something like an outcast within the Mexican intelligentsia.

As an activist, Monsiváis was part of the 1968 movement that ended in the massacre in Tlatelolco, he supported the Zapatista movement in 1994, and labeled the elections of 2006 that took away the presidency from López Obrador a “fraud”.

As any other controversial character, Monsiváis had his flaws: His colleagues and close friends considered him a misogynist, and despite his close links with the feminist and LGBT movements, he never came out of the closet publicly. Like Juan Gabriel, one of the many pop icons that fascinated Monsiváis, he kind of choose to follow the principle of lo que se ve no se pregunta, while defending LGBT rights in Mexico and pointing out the homophobia and double standards with which the Catholic church attacked the LGBT community and, more recently, same-sex marriage in Mexico City.

It is kind of ironic that Monsiváis was outed during his wake, posing questions about the right to live (and die?) in the closet and the power of visibility for the LGBT community. But if you think about it, the gay flag made it to Bellas Artes, the most prestigious place where someone can have her or his wake in Mexico. To give some idea of how important is this, Frida Kahlo‘s wake was in that building. The fact that the LGBT community claimed a place in this ceremony speaks to a new generation that wants to publicly acknowledge the not-so-short history of Mexico’s LGBT community. It talks about the importance of sexuality when it comes to define an identity that, like in Monsiváis’ case, was shaped by being Mexican, attending the UNAM, and being a gay man.

We’ll never know how Monsiváis would feel about this forced outing, but it is certainly sad to read “Monsiváis never married and had no children” as if that could define his personal life (and happiness) at all.

If Monsiváis’ death means the end of an era, let’s hope for a new generation that embraces all the different aspects that shape human beings, including sexuality, and the joy that comes along with it when it is accepted as part of life.