When asked directly about his sexual orientation during a TV show broadcasted all across Mexico, singer Juan Gabriel made one of the most definitive statements about homosexuality, private life and its links to the hypocritical sectors of Mexican society. Indeed, in the Mexican mainstream there is a moral double standard that accepts the existence of queerness just from the standpoint of gossip and speculation–never from the point of view of acceptance.
With his response, the phrase, lo que se ve no se pregunta, loosely translated as “there’s no need to ask about something that is obvious,” soon became a political declaration against those who believe they have the right to ask or interrogate about private life and intimacy. Moreover, by this declaration, Juan Gabriel made fun of the gossip, neither admitting nor denying his homosexuality, and still holding the power ambiguity gives. His statement meant: if Mexican society prefers to ignore the fact that I am gay, let’s ignore it together, but you already know what lies underneath.
Juan Gabriel became famous during the eighties, due to his lyrics that talk about love and its implications: hatred, betrayal, cheating, passion, jealousy, and of course, the lies that couples want to believe in order to keep the illusion of love alive. Born in 1949, Alberto Aguilera Valadez grew up in tough Ciudad Juarez, the famous border city where a long series of unsolved female murders have taken place since 1993. After working at some random bars throughout the city, Juan Gabriel made his way to Mexico City. Legend tells that he was unfairly accused of robbing and put in prison for a year and a half.
After that incident, Juan Gabriel was introduced to a couple of Mexican producers, jumping to fame. In 1972, Juan Gabriel made his way to the highest levels of the Mexican charts, and also made his fans happy to ignore his effeminate manners. At the pinnacle of his career, Juan Gabriel had a series of concerts in the Palacio de Bellas Artes, with his Northern music played by an orchestra. Again, if the Mexican elite was somehow scandalized, the rhythm of Juan Gabriel’s music made everyone forget the sacrilege.
Juan Gabriel’s occasional duets with Rocío Durcal, a Spanish singer from Andalucía, would later become inspiration for transvestite shows in Mexican gay clubs, parodies of the classic friendship between a straight woman and her artsy gay friend.
Never married, Juan Gabriel has never been linked to a concrete partner. However, this hasn’t stopped the tabloids from spreading wild rumors: there was the anonymous transsexual woman who had an M to F surgery in order to marry Juan Gabriel in London. Of course the craziest and ultimate gossip positions Juan Ga, as his fans lovingly call him, having sex with Rocío Durcal’s husband.
Juan Gabriel remains one of the most interesting icons of Mexican popular culture. Only a couple of years ago, Juan Gabriel went to prison for tax evasion. A scandal that made him state that the injustice was that people pay their taxes, but the serial murders in Ciudad Juarez still have no guilt to be condemned. A melodramatic statement that points out the dynamics of a society where moral still has contradictory limits.