Pageants, drag shows, mini travels, weekend and nighttime living, contemplations.
¡Buenos días/buenas tardes/buenas noches, mundo lleno de gente bonita! Hello beautiful people in this wacky world!
There is so much that is scary, important, intense, and cruel happening back in the U.S. with continuing civil rights unrest in Baltimore and countless other cities ceaselessly—whether or not the mainstream news covers it—in Nepal with human and cultural devastation, and so many other places, including right here in Mérida, that feels so out of my control. I had a little crisis yesterday about being left with so little time here in México, and wanting my accent to be better, and not being able to see how to reconcile my enjoyment for relaxedly reading narratives and novels by great Latin American thinkers, and for simply spending afternoons laughing until my sides hurt and conversing endlessly with old and new friends, with an intense need to be exacting justice somehow in this terribly senseless and bittersweetly ever-advancing place.
Something that has really helped me this semester to feel useful, at the same time as I am touristing, reading, studying psych and literature, eating, traveling, and having the privilege to indulges in all those sort of visiting activities, is to go for four or five hours every Friday to a CENDI (Centro de Desarrollo Infantil), similar to a daycare center sponsored by government family development programs, in Juan Pablo II, a fraccionamiento named after Pope John Paul II when he visited the city a few decades ago. Photo of the outside included; there have been so many adorable birthday parties for two, three, and four-year-olds celebrated on Fridays, along with Día de la Familia potluck and relay races, and giving little mini-classes about music and rhythm, which didn’t go always as smoothly as expected but still adorable. I have worked with Lactantes (basically babies), Maternal 2 (~ two-year-olds) and Maternal 3 (three- and four-year-olds, some of whom have different physical and developmental challenges).
Comentario: parece que la pansexualidad todavía NO es considerado una sexualidad válida, porque la Profesora Solís Pinto, aunque cuando una compañera de clase Alondra preguntó sobre ella (y algunos comantaron, “pan” como el alimento (bread)? ja ja ja…), dijo que sólo oficialmente se considera bisexualidad, homosexualidad, heterosexualidad las sexualidades en bajo las cuales caen la gente en general. It seems like pansexuality hasn’t reached legitimacy here yet, because my Sexualidad Humana professor, even when asked by a classmate about pansexuality (to which many made a joke about pan which means bread—like, romantically attracted to bread, they asked? ha ha ha), she said only hetero-, homo-, and bisexuality were officially recognized. However, interestingly we have discussed in class an alternative to the Kinsey scale, which was proposed by IMESEX, Instituto Mexicano de Sexualidad. It is a seven-level scale from Fundamentalmente, Básicamente, Preferentemente Heterosexual, to Bisexual, to Preferentemente, Básicamente, Fundamentalmente Homosexual. Quite interesting and more broadly accepting of variations in sexuality.
Knowing that I write this blog, Kari, my friend through Berenice, suggested we go to El Tinglado, a “family friendly restaurant” similar to Eladio’s here, where you only pay for drinks and get large appetizers in a steady flow to make for a pretty fulfilling meal—papadzules, sopa de lima, pan de cazón but with meat instead of fish. BUT the catch is, this restaurant also features drag shows! Kari did mention that this is a classic example of Mérida’s hypocritical openness and familiarity with drag performances by personages such as Cuchi Cuchi and Nani Namu y sus Estrellas, who perform at El Tinglado, and a few other famous drag queens who perform comedy shows in various theaters around the city, yet homophobia for various sexualities in actual lifestyle practice. I was singled out for looking unlike the other girls at my table by one of the drag performers, who questioned me about my musical preferences in order to gauge what to lip sync for her next song, which was really funny for me. A very amusing and friendly atmosphere, with portraits of all the performers on the walls, a very nice stage for the performances, and a convivial vibe from other families and groups of friends visiting. Cool to have a space like that, despite any latent hypocrisy in Meridana culture. Photos included and it is starred on the southeast edge of Mérida in my previous blog post’s map.
The day I went to El Tinglado with Kari, Bere, and one of her recently acquired friends Mari, who also happens to be queer, Mari told us about a play that she was acting in back in her town of Ticul, about an hour and a half east of Mérida, with a theater company that she’s been acting with for years. Called Las Flores del Recuerdo, it was a half-comedic, half-tragic interpretation of Day of the Dead traditions but also how gender relations and violence against women play into honoring the past, the dead, and women who have suffered difficult relationships. Mari played Juana, a women killed at the hands of gender violence committed by her husband and his friends in a moment of rage. Yet another amusing scene had to do with a young boy who kept dying and coming back to life to the chagrin and confusion of his mourning-celebrating-mourning-celebrating family. Laden with Yucatecan jokes and tender humor about life and death, we enjoyed the play as much as we did exploring the beautiful and sweet town of Ticul, which is known for its shoe production, randomly, but also had a lively central plaza with youth bands, lots of motorcyclists, panaderías, and a beautiful church. See photos attached.
Finally, I have been a total of three times now (once after spring break, bear with the non-chronology here) to Pride Disco on the outskirts of the city. Miguel and our friend Imelda from the IFSA program (who said she was battling with her Mexican Catholic upbringing during the whole night but also enjoyed the distinctive diversion) came with Bere, Kari and me to La Flor de Yucatán on April 11, which was a Drag Queen Beauty Contest! Not everyday you see that, and I’ll tell you that the questions were SO MUCH MORE SUBSTANTIVE and hard-hitting than any normal beauty pageant, even Miss Congeniality aside. Here is a link to a video I filmed (it is only accessible to those with the link, for sake of respectable privacy) of part of the pageant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC6EXX7I1xc. Questions by the two always hilarious drag commentators/comedians included: What do you think of hormonal treatments? Describe the gay community in three words. If you could, would you change anything about your past? What advice do you have for other queer people living in uncertainty? That kind of thing. Gave me hope and excitement and a sense of tranquility, and made it hard to vote for just one (I think Alexandra won, she definitely had a lot of confidence and chutzpah. Also the costumes and swimsuit portions were done so professionally that I’m pretty sure everyone was wondering, are these women or men? And that’s not what matters, after all—it’s about how one presents oneself, and they did that spectacularly. The best part was the incredible number of FANS each contestant had! Families, friends were all gathered to show their support loud and proud. Another night with Kari’s roommate Jared we went back to LesViernes, and had a grand time dancing after the show of, we all realize, female dancers who are not really lesbians…whereas we imagined that the male strippers were probably gay. Funny how things work. The good thing is that Pride seems like a good place of employment if you are interested in pursuing dancing and strip teasing for work.
Phrases/REFRANES de mis padres/amigos yucatecos:
Éramos muchos y parió la abuela. (As if we didn’t have enough problems already…)
Árbol que crece torcido jamás su rama endereza. (A crooked branch never straightens)
El ojo del amo engorda al caballo (si miras no te van a robar). (Vigilance pays off and saves you from robbery… or something like that)
Un clavo saca otro clavo. (The quickest way to get over one partner is to get under another / A new worry takes your mind off the old one)
Está lloviendo a cántaros (está diluviando). (It’s raining cats and dogs)
Ojo por ojo, diente por diente. (An eye for an eye)
De tal palo, tal astilla. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree)
Tanto peca el que mata a la vaca como es que le jala la pata. (The accomplice is as guilty as he who commits the crime / Bystanders are as guilty as perpetrators)
Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr. (Live and let live)
Quien no arriesga, no gana. (No risk, no gain)
La gota que derramó el vaso. (Literally, the drop that made the glass overflow / The straw that broke the camel’s back)
Fulano de tal, no rompe un plato (versión limpia) (A pretty face can be deceiving / Looks innocent but can be capable of something sneaky ….)
A mi me haces lo que el viento a Juárez (No matter what someone tells you, you aren’t going to change your mind; no storm or wind affects you)
¡Hasta luego, amores! Gracias por leer; thanks for reading
Over and out,