GUADALAJARA, Mexico – A folk ballet made up of men and women of the LBGTTTI community in the western Mexican state of Jalisco is determined to fight discrimination and instill respect for sexual diversity while preserving Mexican traditions.
The inclusive group is made up of those who feel free to dance dressed as charros or in brilliantly colored dresses to Mexico’s most traditional tunes.
Johnny Cobian, founder of the Jalisco Is Diverse LBGTTTI Folk Ballet, told EFE that they seek to promote respect for people’s gender identity and sexual orientation, and also to stamp out discrimination.
“A great many people who make up our ballet are transsexuals, which is a characteristic different from other ballet companies and which identifies us,” he said.
Esmeralda Nuñez, one of the transgender girls in the group, told EFE that the ballet promotes respect for diversity more than it spotlights the group’s differences from the heterosexual population.
“They’re not really differences – we’re practically the same except that here we transgender girls can dance as females. That changes things a little: here we can all dance as the gender we prefer,” she said.
Jalisco Is Diverse was created last June because of the way some ballet companies turned down invitations from the gay community to join the Gay Pride parade. Cobian took on the job of bringing people together who, besides loving the dance, had no fear about displaying their sexual identity and orientation.
Mario Fernandez of Veracruz joined the group motivated by his love of Mexican folk music and by the experience of having been in other groups since he was 3 years old.
“It’s what I want to show the public because there’s a lot of responsibility being on this side. I want everyone to appreciate our folk music and culture, and that we as a community can bring it to them with no problems,” he said.
His deep voice contrasted with the coquetry of his elaborate braids and long earrings.
“There’s no discrimination here, there’s no homophobia, nothing of the sort... not even discrimination regarding gender identity – all people are welcome,” Cobian said.
The group has been well received at the few festivals where they have performed, though the dancers say they have been disinvited from some presentations when the hosts became aware they were gay.