México City activist icon Xabier Lizarraga, seated in wheelchair, with other activists at the 2024 Marcha. (Photo courtesy Maricel Isaza Camargo de Archivos y Memorias Diversas)

JESÚS CHAÍREZ. |. Contributing Writer

Photos by Jésus Chaîrez unless otherwise noted

MÉXICO CITY — México City’s 46th annual LGBTQ Marcha /Parade once again did not disappoint. Though the number of people in attendance varied between various media outlets, it was obvious that, again this year, more than 1 million people attended parade was on Saturday, June 28.

The parade began at the Angel of Independence in La Zone Rosa (the LGBTQ entertainment district known in English as The Pink Zone). And a multitude of LGBTQ people, families, kids and supporters marched — and partied — along the six-to-eight-lane Paseo de la Reforma Avenue three miles to the Zocalo.

Joe Perez, an original member of Dallas’ first gay Latino organization called the Gay Hispanic Coalition de Dallas, noted in a telephone conversation that when he helped start the coalition, gay Mexican men would often flee Mexico and seek political asylum in the U.S. because being gay in Mexico could be a death sentence due to macho Mexican attitudes. But now, México City has come a long way in terms of LGBTQ rights, often surpassing the situation for the community not only in North Texas but in U.S. in general.

And the, Perez noted, the Dallas Pride Parade “does not compare” to México City’s Marcha.

Back in 1986, when I still lived in Dallas, I ventured to México City during the Christmas/New Year season, and could not find a single gay bar in the La Zona Rosa; they were all hidden, with no names showing on the outside of the buildings and certainly no rainbow flags. Gay bars had to be very discreet to avoid police harassment and intimidation — just like the bars on Cedar Springs Road in Dallas in their early years. One way of finding a gay bar back then in México City was to walk the streets of La Zona Rosa, like I did, and wait to get picked up so you could ask your new friend where the bars were. But when I went into my first gay bar in México City, it was a relief not to be asked for three picture IDs like often happened back then to people of color in Dallas.

Way before the Stonewall rebellion on June 28, 1969, in New York City, police in México City raided a gay party on Nov. 17, 1901. At the party, 42 men, half of them dressed as women, were arrested. But only 41 were detained, as folklore has it, because one of the men in attendance was the son-in-law of the then-president of México, Porfirio Díaz. The president’s son-in-law was not arrested, but those men who could not pay a bribe to gain their freedom were taken to prison in the state of Veracruz. Many died there due to hard labor and harsh living conditions.

There was no rebellion by the gay community; being gay was still considered a Méxican societal taboo.

By 1979, México City’s LGBTQ community was fed up with being disrespected, so in June of that year the community staged its first Pride parade. Though the participants marched for justice and equality, they agreed that it was just as important just to be seen, to let the community at large know that the gay community existed, says Xabier Lizarraga, one of the originators of that first parade and a México City gay activist icon.

No longer hidden in the shadows and gaining in visibility, the LGBTQ rights movement in México had begun to build substantial momentum, fighting for equal rights not just in the political realm but also in the La Zona Rosa with the “Pink Peso.” Money always carries weight, after all.

Then a miracle happened, something most people did not expect to see in their lifetime: Same-sex marriage and adoption rights became law on Dec. 21, 2009, long before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide on June 26, 2015.

Besides the fact that marriage equality was recognized in Mexico years earlier than in the U.S., marriage equality is not under attack today in México the way it is in the U.S. In addition, México’s LGBTQ community is not having to battle against states enacting laws to take away LGBTQ freedoms, like what is happening in the U.S. with Florida’s — and other states’ — “Don’t Say Gay,” law and book bans and laws trying to ban drag shows.

México has also elected its first female president before the U.S., with left-leaning Claudia Sheinbaum — former mayor of México City, and a member of the liberal party Morena which supports sexual diversity — winning recently in a landslide. Though President-elect Sheinbaum will not be inaugurated until October she is already working with the LGBTQ community to be a visible and a more inclusive community.

LGBTQ visibility in art and culture exhibits are now common thought the year, but Pride Month brings special exhibits. There was a history exhibit of 3-foot-by-5-foot photographic panels on the wrought iron gate at Chapultepec Park during June, visible to heavily traveled street in front the National Museum of Anthropology.

At the end of this street exhibit is the Museum of Modern Art where the well-received and well-attended works in Abraham Ángel: Entre el Asombro y la Seducción (Between Astonishment and Seduction) were on exhibit during Pride Month. This exhibit that was first featured at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas Voice, “Ángel among us,” Sept. 15, 2023).

There are too many cultural and art exhibits to list and discuss here, because Pride in México City is now out and in the open every day of the year.

The finale to Mexico City Pride is the Parade (Marcha). Since it is the rainy season here, the parade always gets started on time because you never know when the rain will start on any given day. This year, after a heavy rain the night before, the weather was excellent for a parade on Saturday, with sunny skies and a temperature of 65 degrees.

The first person from Texas I saw at the parade was Oak Lawn resident Juan Herrera, checking his GPS and trying to locate his Méxican boyfriend, Carlitos. Juan has been to México City Pride several times since his first trip in 2018.

John Rogers and Zac Campbell, a Dallas married couple who recently moved to México City (Dallas Voice, “Finding Home,” Aug.19, 2022), live along the parade route and had a festive soirée to view the parade from the 23rd floor of their apartment building.

New to the México City Parade this year were the Dallas married couple Lorenzo Moreno and Christopher Hardman. Lorenzo said, “We were amazed at the size and representation of families with kids in the parade.” He said that they “felt welcomed and validated.”

They said they will be back to México City to attend next year’s LGBTQ parade and possibly will be moving to México City soon. They came to México City after a short visit in Mérida, Yucatán, scouting that area for a possible move. But Lorenzo said they had their minds are now made up: México City is where they want to live.

And if the November elections don’t go well in the U.S., rumor has it that there may be more Dallasites moving to México City soon.

Jesús Chairez is a México City based freelance writer formerly from Dallas. He can be reached at Facebook.com/JesusChairez.