Despite pushback from some Los Angeles residents, a street in the Boyle Heights area will be renamed after late singer Vicente Fernández.
The city council voted Tuesday (February 15) to honor “El Charro de Huentitán” for his career as a musician and his status as a cultural icon. Fernández died on December 12, 2021, at the age of 81.
“The legacy of Vicente Fernández continues to resonate and inspire people worldwide, making us proud to call ourselves Latino,” said Councilman Kevin de León. “Today, our city council took the rare action to recognize ‘Chente’ for his cultural contributions by memorializing him at one of our city’s most cherished venues, Mariachi Plaza. Through his music, he has etched his place in history and on the hearts of fans who will forever cherish him.”
Last month, a letter was sent to the city council from the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC) explaining why they opposed the street’s name change to pay tribute to Vicente Fernández. The letter cited “some well-documented incidents” that concerned BHNC. This included a report that Fernández made derogatory remarks about the LGBTQ+ community when he said he wouldn’t accept a liver transplant because he didn’t know if his donor was homosexual.
The letter also listed incidents where Fernández was accused of touching women inappropriately, as recently as the month he died. “In lieu of these concerns, the [BHNC] does not feel it is appropriate to rename a street within the community after Vicente Fernández, nor any other civic memorialization.”
Last week, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who is openly gay, gave his support for the renaming of the street. “Celebrating anyone in a public space … is always fraught to some extent because of the imperfection of people,” O’Farrell said. “I am very, very sensitive to homophobic remarks, adversity, discrimination, and even hatred, just because of my own identity.” O’Farrell added that he supports the designation, saying it would honor “a beloved cultural icon who has brought joy to countless millions.”