Publically Elected Out Gay Mayor Shows Opinions Changing in Mexico

Even with cartels and drug wars making headlines within Mexico, the lgbt community has some bright spots within the country.

Most recently, the country is celebrating its first openly gay elected mayor, who will be taking office in September in a remote and rural township (approximately a U.S. county) in the state of Zacatecas. The region is “known for cowboy boots, embossed belts and drug gang shootouts” reports AP, and Benjamin Medrano, the elected official, agrees. “Very machisto, I would say. I am going to be the mayor of a township where there are 258 villages full of tough country people, who don’t necessarily have much information on what’s happening elsewhere, and have even less of an automatic sympathy with their gay mayor.”

Medrano, who is 47, pins his fame and elected status not on being openly gay, but because he’s a respected singer and has been the owner of a gay bar for 18 years. Like many countries throughout the world, lgbt individuals are readily accepted in Mexico in the entertainment industry. While he is also openly gay, he does not consider himself an activist: “I’m not in favor of gay marriage, I don’t share that view, because we are still a very small town… in short, we’re not prepared.” He notes that his style of being gay means “It’s not like I’m going to paint the city hall pink.”

Medrano is not the only out public official in the country, but he is the first elected. While many other elected officials have been rumored to be queer, none have come out, and those who are out in the legislature have won their seats through a proportional-representation method where their parties designate them. Alejandro Brito, director of “Letra S,” one of the foremost gay rights groups in Mexico, said that the ability for out gay public officials to serve openly “shows that our human rights system is providing some protection. Because, even though there is no public majority in favor of electing gay politicians, [Medrano] knows that the legal framework will protect him.”

Much like in the U.S. currently, “It is now more risky for a political rival to be openly homophobic than it is to be a homosexual candidate,” Brito added.

Mexico City is the only place in the country where gay marriage is legal, but a supreme court ruling back in December 2012 opens the door for bans throughout the country to be repealed. And to top it off, over 80,000 people participated in the Gay Pride parade in Mexico City at the end of June. The conservative Catholic nation is opening up on this issue, slowly but colorfully.