No, it’s not Barnum & Bailey. It’s Mexico City’s thirty seventh gay pride march, taking place on Saturday June 27th. The parade starts at 10:00 AM at the Ángel de la Independencia on Reforma and marches up Reforma toward Parque la Alameda, then turns right and heads to the Zócalo, where a fiesta ensues.
Nowhere is gay pride a somber event; it’s meant to be a festival. And, I believe such marches have done much to advance the cause of gay civil rights across this and other lands. These parades have become places where we can show our numbers, determination, and our diversity to the world at large. And, of course, have a fabulous party at the end. As the old saying goes, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution.”
But in México? It gets taken to a whole other level. Mexicans are known for their partying stamina, and put a half-million or more gay Mexicans into the same event, and some seriously fabulous, frivolous festivities will ensue. Forget the whole “conservative, Catholic country” meme, this parade and festival is just as raucous, licentious, and crazy as San Francisco’s or New York’s gay pride festivals. And it probably is larger than either. Though not so much an international event (certain Gringos Sueltos, excepted), folks come from all over Mexico to celebrate and let down their hair.
And though the battle is not over, Mexican gays have much to celebrate. Consider that the first march took place in 1978. I think that was the year I first attended San Francisco’s Gay Pride March as a teenager. Though a large event in SF, it was still largely ignored by the media, with the exception of supermarket tabloids which covered it as some kind of parade of twisted perversion and a sure sign of the end of times. I can only imagine the bravery of the first Mexico City organizers and participants for that first march. Even as late as the early 90’s, there was plenty of anti-gay violence going on in Mexico City and the rest of the country, and travelers were advised to be very cautious. Now? The Zona Rosa is Mexico City’s answer to San Francisco’s Castro district, full of gay bars, restaurants, trendy stores, and a vibrant gay community where same-sex couples aren’t afraid to walk hand-in-hand. Mexico itself has all but legalized gay marriage throughout the country, and gays are beginning to take their rightful place as full members of society.
Yet there is still progress to be made. Here in Boston, the gay community has become so mainstream that the parade has gotten a smidgen boring, filled with contingents of politicians and politician-hopefuls, church groups, and big, established businesses like Verizon, IBM, TD Bank, EMC, and many others too numerous to list. Despite the opportunity to build good will with a half-million consumers, basically for free, I still don’t recall seeing that kind of mainstream participation at Mexico City’s parade. But I don’t doubt the day will come where this event is seen as a “must-attend” by those seeking to win elections, and those seeking to increase their market shares.
As for me, I fly down this afternoon, on a non-stop no less. (Thanks, Aeromexico!!!) Edgar will meet me tomorrow, and then we’ll spend the weekend together doing the parade as well as me showing Edgar around a city he has barely seen.
¡¡¡Saludos and Happy Pride!!!