Tonight queer students at my university will celebrate their graduation with family and friends at the Rainbow Graduation Reception. Dr. Brenda Risch initiated the event years ago and it has grown steadily. I will have the privilege of speaking to the attendees tonight and have been thinking about what it means to have been out for over four decades. Today, I share an interview from a few months ago.
Last fall, I had the great honor of being named to the 2016 "41 List." Honor 41 is "a national Latina/o LGBTQ online, 501 c3 non-profit organization that promotes positive images of our community, creates awareness about our issues and builds an online family/community." Its founder and the project's visionary, Alberto B. Mendoza, was inspired to create Honor 41 because of the bullying that he received as a young gay man.
You may not have heard about "los 41," a gay history that has long been hidden but has lived on through the derogatory term "41" to denote maricon or joto, in the negative sense. To learn more about this history, see the information below from the Honor 41 website and please watch this clip from my interview last fall.
"In 1901, Mexico City police raided a clandestine party and arrested 41 men, half of whom were dressed as women. To humiliate the 41, the police paraded the prisoners in public. Many of those arrested were sent away and subjected to slave labor. During the same period, Mexican culture was developing an atmosphere of sexual curiosity, and the media coverage of the arrests resulted in a movement that some believe led to the birth of the concept of homosexuality in Mexico." (See www.Honor41.org for more information on this wonderful organization.)
Queer Latinx people have a history of creativity, survival, resilience, and organizing. It's important for us to recover it, remember it, and share it.