The Weaponization of Music and Social Media Against Homophobia in México

October 21, 2019

This amalgamation of influences produced a Mexican state that has a diverse and lively array of LGBTQ+ communities in different cities across the nation. In the context of “queer” meaning relating to people who do not conform to the heteronormative or cis-gendered Mexican lifestyle, Mexican queer history reveals to us that Mexican LGBTQ+ people have had to adapt to different ways of living across different regions and periods. The administration of NAFTA added another dimension, shifting México into a country that freely adopted trade between the U.S. and Canada. This resulted in an expansion of both exports and imports of goods, services, and ideas. For instance, in México City, La Zona Rosa became a hub for bohemian and gay culture amid an emerging neo-liberal México. La Zona Rosa is distinct for its modern ambiance and over 500 gay bars, clubs, and boutiques. In Guadalajara, gay culture and northern Mexican culture meld together in the Chapultepec neighborhood. It is not uncommon to find “gay taco” stands, gay clubs and bars, or even gay mariachi groups. While these “gayborhoods” have long been safe spaces for queer people in México, the overarching Mexican attitude towards queer people has been relatively unaccepting. México has a “gay happiness score” of 56 out of 100 and is 32nd in the world, the 5th highest in Latin America (Gay Hapiness Index). Despite México’s thriving gayborhoods across the country, between 2014 and 2016, 202 LGBTQ+ people were killed; nearly six murders per month (Rodes, A). Interestingly, the emergence of the internet and social media has created a distinct subculture of queer people in México that are lively and tackling some of México’s internalized issues with homophobia and homophobic violence. Most noticeably, the emergence and popularity of queer and trans, Mexican artists, and social media influencers have brought these issues into the mainstream all across México, other parts of Latin America, and even the world.

One of the most distinct and popular gay influencers in contemporary México is a rapper, Guadalajara design student, makeup artist, and lyricist named Sailorfag. With nearly 923,000 combined followers across Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter, Sailorfag has been one of the most prominent figures in “queering” up the Mexican internet discourse (Sailorfag). Sailorfag rose to popularity after a series of freestyle raps critiquing heteronormativity, sexism, homophobia, and machismo in Mexican culture were uploaded on Twitter (Sailorfag). What truly made Sailorfag so unique was that his use of social media was prolific for the queer community in México. Before long, Sailorfag began to release music under the same vein of his freestyle raps, critiquing sexism in Mexican culture, spreading feminist ideology, and promoting queer spaces. His music became rather popular among both queer and non-queer Mexican college students, in addition to being popular amongst younger Chicanos in the United States. His most famous song, “Amiga Date Cuenta,” sits at a combined 11.6 million listens on both Spotify and Youtube (Sailorfag). “Amiga Date Cuenta” quickly garnered attention for its mixture of feminist lyrics and behind a trap beat.

Interestingly enough, trap music originates from artists from the southern United States but spread to Latin America in the form of a Latin trap around 2014. Latin trap became a global phenomenon around early 2018, marked by the song “Te Bote” by Nio Garcia, Casper Magico, and Bad Bunny, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. That same year, Cardi B’s single “I Like It” featuring J Balvin, and Bad Bunny hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Notably, “Te Bote” and “I Like It” were the first Latin trap songs to reach number one in either music charts. While Latin trap generally tends to be about living lavishly and perreando, or partying and dancing in a very intimate way between a man and woman, “Amiga Date Cuenta” goes against this norm by bluntly calling out sexist behavior among straight, and even gay, Mexican men. The lyrics, “amiga date cuenta que ese vato vale verga,” are repeated throughout the song and translate to “(girl)friend realize that that man of yours is not worth shit” (Amiga Date Cuenta). Given the nature of the genre and lyrics, “Amiga Date Cuenta” can be seen as subversive to hegemonic Mexican tendencies, the likes of which reinforce homophobia and sexism. Sailorfag writes music because he thinks “music is a way to spread a message on a larger and more entertaining scale” (Villegas). In a sense, Sailorfag uses music and the internet as tools to fight homophobia and sexism.

His other famous song, “Inventadas y Modernas” talks more about the night scene amongst the LGBTQ+ community in México and is an anthem rallying for acceptance. The lyrics “inventadas y modernas, inventadas y modernas equis digan lo que quieran pues nos vale mucha verga. Inventadas y modernas, inventadas y modernas, no le temas a la gente que aqui todas te aceptan,” translates to “inventive and modern, inventive and modern, it does not matter what they say because we do not give a f**k. Inventive and modern, inventive and modern, don’t label people here because we all accept you” (Inventadas y Modernas). This song can be interpreted as a queer Mexican anthem for inclusivity. “Inventadas y Modernas” clearly establishes that queer spaces should include people of all color, sexualities, gender, and any other label. Additionally, this song, in particular, uses music as a means to empower queer people.

Sailorfag ultimately seeks to overthrow homophobia and outdated gender roles. His social media reflects the attitudes he shares in his music and both feed into one another to create a multimedia experience. Sailorfag continually posts makeup videos and outfits he designed in school onto his social media platforms with the hope of empowering others and normalizing feminist thought in men. Even though there are risks that continue to affect gay men, such as appearing too feminine as a man in public, Sailorfag makes it apparent that he does not want to change his personality or outfit, to fit standard Mexican hegemony.

Another example of queering up Mexican internet comes from Margaret y Ya. Margaret y Ya is a Mexican drag queen who got famous after she appeared on the RuPaul's Drag Race spin-off series, La Mas Draga. La Mas Draga is a tv series that premiered on the social media platform Youtube. Margaret y Ya became very popular after she controversially lost the drag show competition during the last episode (La Mas Draga Oficial). The online nature of the series readily helped to spread its reach. The series also saw attention for being an instance in which queer American media found its way into Mexican queer communities.

In a way, La Mas Draga is also a modernization of the Mexican art form of perreando. perreando loosely resembles the American drag ball culture of New York City in the 1970s. perreando branded itself as uniquely Mexican and queer (Marquet, 2010). That said, it mainly remained a subculture within the Mexican LGBTQ+ community (Marquet, 2010). The mainstream and popularity of Rupaul’s Drag Race in the United States, and on the internet, along with the creation of La Mas Draga brought drag race and perreando to the forefront. Funny enough, perreando in México originally was used to mean dressing up in drag, however, the addition of Latin trap music and the perreando dance form added a new dimension to the word.

When La Mas Draga became accessible online, it not only opened up the possibility of being shared across various social media platforms, but it opened up a history in México that was overlooked by contemporary queer discourse. As a result, La Mas Draga is a product of both globalization and historical restoration. Much like how storytelling keeps narratives and traditions alive, La Mas Draga became a way of storytelling, reclamation, and promoting queer stories.

In an era where globalization and interconnectivity are nearly unavoidable, how cultures and groups of people claim their space online has real-life consequences. Sailorfag, Maragaret y Ya and La Mas Draga, are all examples of how they use the internet and technology to shift real-life attitudes and narratives. Queer and non-queer; Mexican and non-Mexican people are all watching through their phones and computer screens, waiting to see what queer people in México are going to tweet, sing, or wear next. Underlying within all of this is the hope that these tools for information are helping to put an end to the current oppression felt by queer people in México and around the world.

About Author(s)

anp176's picture
Antonio Ponce-Meza
Hi! My name is Antonio Ponce Meza, and I’m a 1st generation Mexican-American from Beaumont, Texas. I’m pursuing a B.S. in Information Science with a Certificate in Latin American Studies and minors in Computer Science and Gender, Sexuality & Women Studies. Currently I work as an intern for Panoramas, a scholarly platform hosted by Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies. My hope is to one day be able to blend my interests in cloud computing and tech with Latin America and provide sustainable access to technology for those who need it.