Gay Pride in Oaxaca

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“Where are the lesbians? Where are the gays? Where are the bisexuals?” asked the MC. The crowd didn’t go as wild as expected in a gay parade.

In the capital of the southern state of Mexico, Oaxaca, the LGBT community marched for the second consecutive year to celebrate sexual diversity and ask the government and society for inclusion, rather than tolerance.

“We don’t want to be tolerated. We are part of this society and we need to integrate everybody despite our sexual differences,” was one of the messages that a participant sent to Mexican president Felipe Calderón and to the crowd gathered in front of the cathedral.

This year, Mr. Calderón declared May 17 the official Day of Tolerance and Respect of Preferences despite protests from civil organizations that have been asking him to proclaim it the National Day of the Fight Against Homophobia. This showed the refusal of the government to recognize the repression that LGBT communities face across the nation.

Last year, the National Human Rights Commission informed that in Mexico 66 percent of people wouldn’t “share the same roof” with homosexuals, while 25 percent of doctors believe that homosexuality is the cause of AIDS in the country.

Participants also sent strong goodbye messages to outgoing governor Ulises Ruiz, whose government has been characterized by corruption and violent political oppression, including the killings of peasants and teachers in 2006. For the past 80 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled the state of Oaxaca. On July 4, an alliance between Calderón’s party, the National Action Party, and three other parties won the state elections.

“This is not only a fight for gay rights, but also indigenous rights[…] It’s not only 200 years of misery and oppression, but 500 years since the Spanish conquest,” said a drag queen performer dress up as “Adelita,” a female character from the Mexican Revolution characterized for her bravery and strength.

Mexico is celebrating this year the 200th anniversary of independence, yet indigenous communities remain marginalized. Oaxaca is one of the  poorest states and it is no coincidence that it has a strong presence of indigenous peoples. More than 30% of the state population is indigenous.

Despite the relatively small crowd, organizers were happy with the result. Inspired by the gay communities of New York City and Mexico City, where same-sex marriage was legalized this year, Oaxaca’s LGBT community expects that the movement continues growing in the following year in this usually neglected state.