In the southern Mexican city of Juchitan, Oaxaca, the third-gender ‘muxe’ community came together in a vibrant display of cultural pride and resistance. This weekend festival, locally known as a “vela,” was not just a celebration but also a statement of the muxes’ ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights. The event saw thousands fill the streets with music, dance, and a pageant showcasing muxes in traditional attire. This gathering symbolizes the community’s resilience and commitment to their identity in the face of adversity.
Muxes: An Integral Part of Zapotec Culture
The muxe identity, integral to Indigenous Zapotec cultures, represents individuals born biologically male who blend gay and feminine identities. Felina Santiago, revered as the matriarch of Juchitan’s muxe community, highlighted the genderless nature of the Zapotec language, emphasizing the muxes’ longstanding presence and resistance in their society. This cultural context offers a unique perspective on gender and sexuality, distinct from mainstream narratives.
Remembering the Fallen and Fighting for the Future
The festival, named “True Fearless Seekers of Danger,” acknowledges the risks faced by the muxe community. It comes in the wake of tragic events, including the killing of Oscar Cazorla, the vela’s founder, in 2019, and the recent death of Ociel Baena, Mexico’s first openly non-binary magistrate and an LGBTQ activist. These losses underscore the urgent need for safety and rights for gender-diverse individuals in Mexico.
A Mass for Solidarity and Reflection
Before the festivities, a special mass was held for attendees and members of the local community. This solemn event served as a moment of reflection and solidarity, honoring those who have suffered and lost their lives while advocating for LGBTQ rights.
A Continued Struggle for Equality
The weekend’s activities, particularly the muxe pageant, were more than just a celebration; they were a testament to the community’s ongoing fight for respect and equality. Elvis Guerra, a pageant participant, poignantly remarked that the struggle for LGBTQ rights in Mexico would continue until equality is achieved, respect is universal, and fighting for these rights becomes a privilege rather than a necessity. The muxe community’s celebration is a powerful reminder of the vibrant diversity within Mexico and the ongoing challenges faced by LGBTQ individuals.