Mexican transvestite fiesta rocks indigenous town

Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:31pm EST
 
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By Mica Rosenberg

JUCHITAN, Mexico (Reuters) - Attaching flowers to a ribbon headdress, pulling a lace slip under an embroidered skirt and draping a necklace of gold coins over his head, Pedro Martinez puts the finishing touches on the traditional costume of Zapotec women in southern Mexico.

"When I get all dressed up like this my father always says, 'Oh Pedro! You look just like your mother when she was young," beams Martinez, 28, gluing on fake eyelashes in front of a mirror.

Martinez spent two hours in the hair salon he owns getting ready for this weekend's festival of the "muxes," indigenous gays and transvestites in the town of Juchitan who have found a haven of acceptance in Mexico's macho society.

The muxes (pronounced moo-shes), mostly of ethnic Zapotec descent, are widely respected in the southern town where a dance and parade that crowns a transvestite queen and celebrates the harvest has been held annually for the last 33 years.

Anthropologists say the tradition of blurring genders among Mexico's indigenous population is centuries old but has been revived in recent decades due to the gay pride movement.

Several dozen muxes were blessed by a Catholic priest at a mass before joining visiting transvestites and other townsfolk at a raucous party on Saturday night. The muxes wore either traditional local costumes or ball gowns and high heels.

The beer-fueled fiesta continued into Sunday at a parade through town.

Some of the muxes, a Zapotec word derived from the Spanish for woman, or "mujer", dress as women year round and others are gays who only don women's clothes at the annual party, or not at all.   Continued...

 
<p>A man, dressed in the traditional costume of a Zapotec woman, plucks his eyebrows at the town of Juchitan in southern Mexico, November 22, 2008. Anthropologists say the tradition of blurring genders among Mexico's indigenous population is centuries old but has been revived in recent decades due to the gay pride movement. Picture taken on November 22, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer</p>