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When the Locals Assume I’m Straight, Should I Correct Them?

Although my sexuality never really became a classroom topic (other than the example above), it definitely did outside of school, usually initiated with a question about my “girlfriend” back home, or what I thought about acapulqueña girls. I guess the “news” traveled fast because, soon thereafter, one of the secretaries in the department, with whom I shared a workspace, approached me. She was very concerned. To sum up her comentario, she told me to be careful because Mexico was diferente de los Estados Unidos. Read: Being gay wasn’t as accepted.

Based my experiences, I disagree.

Several years ago I was living in Guadalajara — the San Francisco of Mexico — and I remember having a heated argument with a roommate. He was older, in his mid-50s, and believed being gay violated nature.

“There are cases of homosexuality in animals,” I contended, visibly upset.

“Right, so gay people are like animals,” he responded, chuckling with another roommate, which infuriated me even more. The following morning I was prepared to give him the silent treatment until he offered me some of his daily banana-chocolate licuado as a sign of peace. I accepted.

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That’s not the only example of contradictory machismo. On numerous occasions while being taxied around Acapulco (my main source of transportation), the conversation would inevitably lead again to Acapulqueñas (the girls of Acapulco), their beauty, and at times the size of their mammary glands. According to my policy, I didn’t just “play along” with this male-bonding ritual but honestly expressed my sexuality. No taxista ever gave a negative response (to my face), and some exhibited a curiosity — that made even me feel a bit awkward. I told the secretary at the school about these experiences, but nonetheless she insisted Mexicans were not gay friendly.

She said straight teachers would never share or mention their personal lives, or anything related, with a student. (It certainly would’ve helped my argument if I had known then about a school pool party I would attend where one sported a tank top with “Squeeze me” written on the front in English.) Aside from the double standard, my philosophy is based on integrity; fighting that feeling that tells you to hide who you are.

My last anecdote I’ll share concerns another student, who trusted me enough to come out to me early in the year. So comfortable was he, in fact, that he approached me to ask if I was activo (pitcher) or pasivo (cather), because he and his friends “couldn’t tell.”

And that, friends, is where I had to draw the line on sharing.