Mexico Third-gender ‘Muxe’ Festival Mixes Celebration and Activism

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Mexico third-gender ‘muxe’ festival

Vibrant Celebration of Diversity in Juchitan

In the vibrant heart of Juchitan, Mexico, a celebration of sexual and gender diversity unfolded this weekend, orchestrated by the local third-gender ‘muxe’ community. This vibrant event was marked by a commitment to advocate for LGBTQ rights, particularly poignant in light of recent tragedies.

The “Vela” Festival in Oaxaca’s Juchitan

The festival, affectionately known as a “vela,” drew thousands to the streets of Oaxaca’s Juchitan. Here, the air was alive with music and dance, creating a backdrop for a pageant where muxes, individuals in Indigenous Zapotec cultures who blend gay and feminine identities and are born biologically male, showcased their traditional attire.

Insight from Matriarch Felina Santiago

Felina Santiago, revered as the matriarch of the muxe community, shared a powerful insight: “In Zapotec, gender does not exist. We have always been here, and our resistance is timeless.”

Poignant Mass Setting the Festival’s Tone

Before the jubilant celebrations, a poignant mass set the tone, dedicating the festival to solidarity and remembrance. This year’s festival, named “True Fearless Seekers of Danger” vela, poignantly reflects the risks faced by community members.

Remembering the Lost in the Muxe Community

The shadow of loss loomed over the festival. In 2019, Oscar Cazorla, the vela’s founder who started it over four decades ago, met a tragic end at his home. More recently, Ociel Baena, Mexico’s first openly non-binary magistrate and a noted LGBTQ activist, was found deceased on Nov. 14 in Aguascalientes, with no arrests made in either case. These somber memories fueled the resolve of the vela’s attendees in their pursuit of a Mexico where gender diversity is safe and respected.

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Elvis Guerra’s Statement on Community’s Determination

Elvis Guerra, a pageant participant, encapsulated the community’s determination: “Our struggle ceases only when equality is achieved, respect for our community is universal, and fighting for our rights becomes a choice, not a necessity.”

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