MEXICO CITY – Even after five years of living together in the Pacific resort town of Acapulco, something as simple as holding hands or sharing a kiss in public is unthinkable for Dayanny Marcelo and Mayela Villalobos.
There is an ever-present fear of being rejected or attacked in Guerrero, a state where same-sex relationships are not widely accepted, and one in five in Mexico where same-sex marriage is still not permitted.
But this week, they traveled the 235 miles (380 kilometers) to the Mexican capital, where the city government hosted a mass wedding for same-sex couples as part of the celebration of LGBT Pride Month.
Under a tent set up on the square in the capital’s civil register, along with about 100 other same-sex couples, Villalobos and Marcelo sealed their union on Friday with a kiss while the wedding march played in the background.
Their ability to marry is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of the LGBT community recently in Mexico. It is now possible in 27 of Mexico’s 32 states and has twice been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Mexico, Brazil and Argentina top Latin America in the number of gay marriages.
Mariaurora Mota, a leader of the Mexican LGBTTTI + coalition, said the movement is still working to guarantee throughout Mexico the right to change its identity, have access to health care and social security, and to allow transgender minors to change their gender on their birth certificate.
When Marcelo and Villalobos walked around Mexico City the day before their wedding, they confessed that they felt strange in the hand in the city streets. Affection between same-sex couples in the capital is common, but it was hard to let go of their inhibitions.
“I feel nervous,” Villalobos, a 30-year-old computer science major, said as Marcelo held her hand.
Villalobos grew up in the northern state of Coahuila in a conservative Christian community. She always felt an “inner struggle” because she knew she had a different sexual orientation, but feared her family would reject her. “I always cried because I wanted to be normal,” she said.
She came out to her mother when she was 23. She thought it would give her more freedom to move to Acapulco in 2017 with a young niece.
Villalobos met Marcelo, a native of the beach town who. Marcelo, a 29-year-old store employee, said her acceptance of her sexual orientation was not as traumatic as Villalobos’, but she still did not come out as a pansexual until she was 24. She said she had been helped by Mexico City . organization Cuenta Conmigo, – Count on Me – which provides educational and psychological support.
As Villalobos walked around the capital this week with massive rainbow flags hanging from public buildings and less flapping in front of many businesses, Villalobos could not help but compare it to her homeland and her current home in Guerrero.
“In the same country, people are very open, and in another (place) … people are close-knit, with messages of hatred towards society,” she said.
Elihú Rendón, a 28-year-old administrative assistant for a carpool application, and Javier Vega Candia, a 26-year-old theater teacher, grew up in Mexico City, and it was not that complicated to get out for them.
“We are in a city where they open up all the rights and opportunities for us, including making this joint LGBT wedding,” Vega Candia said as he held out Rendon’s hand to show a ring he had given him shortly before. they moved together.
As they walk through the city streets, they do not hesitate to express affection, sometimes hugging and dancing in a pedestrian area while traffic was stopped.
“I am happy to be born in this city and believe that we have these rights and not in another country where we could be killed,” Vega Candia said.
Villalobos and Marcelo do not expect much in their daily lives to change when they return to Acapulco as a married couple. But Marcelo said that with the marriage certificate she will try to get Villalobos on the health insurance she receives through her employer.
“With a marriage certificate, it’s easier,” Marcelo said. “If something happens to me, or something happens to her, we have proof that we are together.”