Editor’s note: Some statements were partially translated from Spanish.
A series of black-and-white portraits reveal the private lives of gay, lesbian and transgender families in Mexico City in a new exhibit at UT’s Fine Arts Gallery.
Óscar Sánchez took the photographs in the Familias Mexicanas series in the mid-1990s, documenting the families going about daily life in their homes. Leticia Bonifaz Alonzo, professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, said the unity in the families included in the project have nothing to do with biological similarities.
“The exhibition takes the reinvention of family as a plural phenomenon, based on a variety of effective relationships that are constructed through daily cohabitation,” said ALonzo, who spoke with about 50 people at the opening. “The connections are not established through blood relation or reproductive sexuality but through the union of individuals pursuing happiness and commitment in love.”
Associate Spanish and Portuguese professor Hector Dominguez-Ruvalcaba, who is also a co-chair of organizing for the Queer Studies Cluster, said the goal of the exhibition’s opening night was to bring in people centrally involved in the process of legalizing same-sex marriage in Mexico.
The first civil unions, including those for same-sex couples, took place in Mexico in 2007. In January 2009, an amendment to Mexico City’s civil law legalized gay marriage in the capital.
Dominguez-Ruvalcaba said the amendment endured constitutional debate, and in August 2009, the Mexican Supreme Court upheld the decision, legalizing gay marriage and gays’ rights to adopt throughout the country.
“Sánchez is an activist through his photos, and Alonzo was instrumental to making this amendment possible,” he said.
The lecture and question-and-answer section were conducted in Spanish and mediated through an English translator.
“The decision was influenced by Alonzo’s fluency, but I also believe that Texas is not English country. It’s Spanish country,” Dominguez-Ruvalcaba said. “It was something of a political statement to hold the lecture in Spanish.”
The audience for the lecture and the opening included Spanish speakers, bilingual people and English speakers.
“I’m interested in how the work highlights a social situation that I’m not really aware of,” said studio art senior Erica Holloway, who took advantage of the audio translation. “I simply didn’t know anything about same-sex marriage in Mexico, and I came to learn more.”
In addition to the Queer Studies Cluster, several UT centers and programs supported the exhibition, including the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.