Radcliffe Institute fellow and author of The Night Is Young: Sexuality in Mexico in the Time of Aids, Hector Carrillo penned this opinion piece for the NYT asking how the recent great strides for lgbt rights in Central and South America -- including Tuesday's judicial ruling that may lead to marriage equality throughout Brazil -- can be reconciled with "the stereotype of Latin culture as a bastion of religiosity and machismo?"
"Since the 1970s, protest movements helped end military dictatorships or long periods of one-party rule; this democratic opening empowered left or center-left governments that have strongly emphasized human rights and individual freedom... gay and lesbian activists piggybacked on this wave of democratization.
"The recent expansion of same-sex marriage rights has come about in part through alliances of left-of-center legislative majorities with progressive executives... judges have played an important role in advancing the cause of gay equality, as evidenced this week in Brazil, where the National Council of Justice, which oversees the judiciary, ruled that notary publics may not refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. (Judicial appeals, or legislative action, could reverse the decision.)
"These achievements were not inevitable; for decades the left, with ideological roots in class struggle, could be as patriarchal and homophobic as the capitalists and soldiers it condemned. So to understand why the politics changed, we must also look to society.
"In the 1990s, I interviewed dozens of Mexicans, straight and gay, in Guadalajara, the country’s second largest city. They spoke about how they wanted their lives to differ from their parents’. Women wanted to be recognized as sexual beings, with legitimate desires and the ability to pursue them. Men felt the old models of machismo were constraining, not empowering. As the anthropologist Matthew Gutmann found in Mexico City around the same time, this was the first generation of Mexicans for whom machismo was a dirty word.
"This desire for individual autonomy — which in some ways lagged behind the sexual revolution in the United States — extended to gay and lesbian people. The emergence of aids as a global epidemic coincided with a period of energetic democratization. Of course, increased visibility generated homophobic reactions, but it also motivated gays to declare their identities and organize politically."
Here's the essay in full.
For more, read these:
Changing Men and Masculinities in Latin America, Matthew Guttmann
Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Carla Trujillo
The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, Manuel Munoz
And get the current PEN Faulkner winner Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Only yesterday on FB, Garth "Mitko" Greenwell and Bob "Selfish and Perverse" Smith were raving about the seven wonders in Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club.