If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in Mexico, it’s that Mexicans take protesting seriously. A political demonstration is always a full throttle affair around here: something always gets either spray painted, shouted down or randomly set on fire.
In the past six months, I’ve seen some pretty epic demonstrations, but nothing could have prepared me for today’s Marcha Por La Familia (March for the Family).
It was some dumb shit.
Apparently, conservative Mexicans have been simmering with rage since May, when President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed support for constitutional changes that would allow nationwide legalisation of same sex marriage.
After months of boiling in their juices, today the conservative Christians of Mexico decided to show Pena Nieto what they’re made of. I jumped straight into the action in the Zocalo (big plaza) of one of Mexico’s most traditionally Catholic cities, Puebla.
— Víctor Hernández (@vicherp) 25 August 2016
However, at first, I thought I was in the wrong place. It didn’t look like a march. Rather, it looked more like every nursing home and private school in the city had decided to go on an excursion to the Zocalo at the exact same time. Most of the crowd had obviously been collecting their retirement pensions for a few decades. Heck, many of them didn’t even seem to know where they were, and just gazed off into space. Hey, I’m not being ageist, I’m just reporting the facts. I mean, come on people.
Of course, to say the entire march was semi-fossilised would be a slight exaggeration: there were some actual families around. But Jesus fucking Christ, they were white as fuck. Until today, I didn’t realise how white Mexico can actually be. And no, it wasn’t just because the theme of the day was to wear white. To start with, every middle aged father in the crowd looked like a golf caddy. I’ve honestly never seen so many men wearing woollen V neck vests since Downton Abbey. A step behind every man was his wife, who looked like she needed just one more margarita before hitting the streets (I drink enough tequila to know an alcoholic when I see one). Finally, they all had a son wearing a bow tie, and a daughter dressed like a wedding cake.
Yeah, even my pasty Irish skin was screaming in despair, “Mexico, how the fuck did you get this white?”
Even though this was the first time in years I’ve been in a crowd with the same skin tone as myself, for some reason nobody wanted to talk to me. Maybe it was because I kept introducing myself with the words, “Hi, I was raised by lesbians, what do you think of that?”
The first woman I tried to approach didn’t seem too keen to be interviewed.
“I’d rather reserve my opinions,” she said.
Yeah, no shit you would, I thought in my head, while outwardly trying to imitate that vacant, empty eyed grin right wing Christians are so good at. After a while, people did start to get a little hostile.
“Hey, you,” one man said as he stopped me.
“What are you writing there,” he asked, pointing to the notepad I was scribbling in.
“Oh, just stuff,” I said, showing him my notes in English.
He inspected my scrawly handwriting, before responding, “Ah, well … ok, good.”
Finally, I found someone happy to speak to me. She was collecting signatures for a petition against the proposed constitutional amendment. She explained she had nothing against same sex couples, she just didn’t want their relationships to have any kind of legal status. I pointed out that kinda sounded like she did have something against same sex couples, and she gave me a pretty stock standard response about the negative impact on children.
“I think in a country like yours, like in Europe, this kind of thing [same sex marriage] is normal, but here it isn’t,” she said.
“A child here would get bullied in school for having two mothers. It’d be terrible for them.”
I nodded, and said, “Because the culture in Mexico is different? Like, it’s more conservative and traditional here, so children with gay parents get bullied?”
“Exactly,” she responded.
“Soooo,” I started, “The best solution to this problem is to have a march in support of this conservative culture, and not trying to change it,” I said.
“Exactly … erm, yeah,” she responded.
“… the conservative culture that supports bulling children?” I added.
“Oh, we don’t believe in violence.”
“Uh, huh … can I sign your petition,” I asked. She’d totally won me over, so I added my name to her petition.
I spent most of the rest of the march trying to get hold of the long, slender balloons organisers were handing out. Nobody else seemed to notice just how phallic they looked, especially when waved around.
I wanted a big erect balloon to use as a prop next time I introduced myself as Dick Inmymouth. Unfortunately, by this point my cover had been totally blown, and nobody was even vaguely interested in giving me a balloon to shove down my throat.
All the while, the lamest band ever was putting on a cheesy, seemingly endless musical number from a stage just off the Zocalo. If cheese could be made into a sound, it would sound like their music. It was cheesier than a Swiss cheese maker who ejaculates liquid cheese. Anyway, as I continued my adventure, I discovered the protesters weren’t just upset about same sex marriage. They actually had a shopping list of complains, all of which were listed here:
— Vicente Saiso (@vicentesaiso) 7 September 2016
In this list, we’ve got: homosexuals and lesbians, AIDS and HIV, gender ideology (?), sexual education, abortion, marijuana, Satanism and witchcraft, porn and sex shops, prostitution and brothels, atheism, and pretty much any political party that isn’t the PRI (that party that basically ran Mexico like a dictatorship for almost a century). Weirdly, Pena Nieto is from the PRI, but whatever, there’s stranger fish to fry. For example, how can you be opposed to both AIDS and sex ed? That makes about as much sense as the Cancer Council trying to ban chemotherapy. And Satanism? Is Satanism really a major social issue in a country where nearly half the population lives in poverty, crime is at epidemic levels, and the words “government” and “corruption” are practically synonyms?
What about marijuana, how did that get on the list? I mean, these guys seem upset about a drug that’s safer than paracetamol, but have absolutely no problem with legitimately dangerous drugs like alcohol and cigarettes. On second thought, I guess that’s somewhat in keeping with modern, right wing Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of great progressive Christians, but these right wingers have a fascinating way of prioritising social problems.
Why is it so easy for these guys to organise a march against same sex marriage, but not against poverty? They’re the first to wag their fingers at the gays, and the last to complain about paedophilia in the church. These are the kind of people who claim to defend “family values,” but are always the first to legitimise rape with ridiculous responses like, “Well what was she wearing?” They’ll protest abortion, but aren’t interested in welfare for families. They’ll carry a sign reading “the man is the head of the house”, but are always strangely quiet when a drunk husband beats the shit out of his wife. I guess when a man rams his knuckles through his wife’s nose, it’s just a private domestic issue that the government has no right to interfere with; but if he rams his dick inside another man, it’s a social disaster and the government needs to step in and regulate, prosecute and condemn.
After today’s march, I couldn’t help but feel maybe the rally goers weren’t particularly representative of the needs of ordinary Mexicans. Turns out, plenty of Mexicans felt the same way. While I was at the march, thousands of people from across Mexico had taken to social media to troll Marcha Por La Familia. The results are glorious, but I can’t be bothered translating them all.
By the way, if you’re in Mexico, be sure to check out the counter marches tomorrow.
— Eduardo Kineret (@ekineret) 10 September 2016
— Op. cit. (@AlbaRms) 10 September 2016
— Eduardo Salles (@sallesino) 10 September 2016
— Revista Emeequis (@emeequis) 10 September 2016
— MAX HEREDIA (@maxfreixenet) 10 September 2016
— Claudia María (@ga_llo_14) 10 September 2016
— #AlzaTuVozVeracruz (@VocesVeracruz24) 10 September 2016
— Anonymous Hispano (@anonopshispano) 10 September 2016
— Martín Raygoza (@BanScorpio) 10 September 2016