Along the Avenida de Los Insurgentes, in the heart of Mexico City, a garage door supports part of the weight of the country’s LGBT history. It is the entrance of Eucalipto 20, a renovated gay art gallery in the space that sheltered the pioneers of the movement in the 80s.
“Finding out that the space had a history was incredible for us. Here was the headquarters of the Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria (FHAR), the first group of organized homosexuals to take to the streets of this country ”, an emotional Salvador Irys, a partner of the new gallery, explains to Efe.
Within the framework of the International Day to Come Out of the Closet on October 11, this space, located at the address that gives it its name, Eucalyptus 20, looks to the past that its walls keep but also to the future, accustomed to the three partners that promote it to reinvent itself.
LOOK AT HISTORY
Salvador Irys, Fernado Osorno, and Salvador Peña have been in homosexual activism since 1999 with their Altarte association, which organizes, among others, the International Festival for Sexual Diversity, an event that they claim to be the oldest LGBT festival in Latin America.
All three have ties with activists from the historic FHAR, such as its co-founder Juan Jacobo Hernández, and other organizations of the time, but they look to the future without forgetting history.
“It is truly amazing to find this space, with its history, whereby the FHAR was dissolved here in August 1982. Parties were held here, they met here, I suppose there were very sharp debates, ”Osorno confirms after detailing the activities they offer, almost always free.
These initiatives of the new gallery are “multidisciplinary”, since they organize “theater, music, dance, visual art, and academic activities”, all with “that special touch of art.”
Eucalyptus 20 opened its doors in December but had to stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a minor impediment compared to the one that made them abandon their old gallery, Hazme el Milagrito.
“Hazme el Milagrito was the first LGBT gallery in the city, it was in the Roma neighborhood, it was a great experience, we had a great time, we were there for four years. Unfortunately, we had to close it when the issue of the earthquake (of 2017) came because it was one of the most affected areas, ”says Irys apart from the current exhibition.
This Sunday is the International Day of Coming Out of the Closet or Closet, at a time when the movement has “different views” of that primary struggle of the 70s and 80s of the last century, says Irys.
“Before they fought to end certain institutions, such as the Church or marriage, and now they don’t. Now, in a way, we are already working with them, they are like different visions ”, he highlights.
The gallery partner assures that “a lot has been gained” from the struggles for the liberation of the LGBT community, despite the fact that there is still “a lot to do” in “issues of prejudice, issues of homophobia, violence.”
“A space like this was unthinkable at that time. The FHAR met here, but it did it in a clandestine way, it did not make it public, there were no public events, there were no activities to discuss the LGBT issue, almost everything was behind closed doors, ”he recalls.
The members of this gallery point throughout the conversation to a key theme in the evolution of the movement, “diversification”.
“Laws such as the trans childhood laws are being promoted. At that time, issues of transsexuality were not even discussed, they put us all in the same bag. We were homosexual, male or female. It has changed a lot and diversified a lot, I think for the better, ”says Irys.
Associations to defend the rights of the LGBT community have also multiplied in the country and in Mexico City, with important organizations such as Cuenta Conmigo or Transgender Children.
“It is important that people know that all this that they have right now did not happen overnight, but that there was a fight and many characters behind it,” Irys ditch.