Sunday, January 16, 2005

Gay Caballeros

Gay Caballeros: Inside the secret world of Dallas' mayates
To a misunderstood and controversial segment of the population--illegal male Hispanic immigrants--Ignacio's claim that he's not a gay man wouldn't seem so far-fetched, even though he happened to be at a bar that any objective observer would consider gay. Ignacio is what's known as a mayate, a Hispanic immigrant, often quite new to America and hailing from rural Mexico or Central America, who will have sex with men but doesn't think of himself as being gay.

Ignacio doesn't consider himself gay, because he is always activo when he's with another man. Among mayates, there is one stark rule: The activo partner--or the person whom gay American men call a "top"--maintains his sense of masculinity, while the person who's being penetrated does not. And among recent Hispanic immigrants, who don't own much, manhood is a crucial possession. Mayates may think that letting another man give them a blowjob or giving anal sex to another man doesn't constitute cheating on their wives or girlfriends back in their own countries.
Interesting article from the Dallas Observer.

GLAAD felt enough concern about this article to issue a resource document titled Problematic Coverage of Latinos and HIV/AIDS in Dallas. The issue is the sensationalization of the men-who-have-sex-with-men-but-don't-call-themselves-gay community (cf. the media interest in men on the down low), and the use of the generally derogatory term "mayate" throughout the article. GLAAD points out another article on the subject: A Grim Prognosis: HIV infection is soaring in the Latino population. Can El Futuro slow it down? from Denver's Westword Magazine. (The Westword article is illustrated with a graphic of two skeletons in cowboy hats standing arm-in-arm. Nice.)

(Dallas Observer article via Towleroad)


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