PHOTO: The 38th Mexico City Pride Celebrations Conquered Fear of Anti-LGBT Violence

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Never forget, the old timers say, that the first Pride was a riot. The 38th annual Pride march in Mexico City was definitely more of a party than a protest, but it’s hard to say that a spirit of resistance didn’t guide the day. A multi-generational crowd of tens of thousands marched down the capital’s center streets on Saturday, largely defeating cynic predictions that recent attacks in Orlando and Xalapa would lead to a smaller turn-out for the country’s largest LGBT event, which is also one of the largest Pride celebrations in Latin America.

The parade started Saturday morning at the Angel de Independencia, a soaring golden statue often utilized as the symbol of the city. Hours later, marchers ended their route in the Zócalo, Mexico City’s central square, where singer Alejandra “La Reina del Rock” Guzmán performed.

Unlike similar events in the United States, corporate presence was minor. Only a few floats had big business sponsorship, and most had been coordinated by businesses catering to DF’s LGBT community — bars, bathhouses and contingents from out of town, like a group representing the state of Guerrero.

The past year has been a tumultuous, eventful one for Mexico’s LGBT community. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the state of Jalisco’s ban on gay marriage, ruling that it was unconstitutional. This spring President Peña Nieto announced his support for legalizing gay matrimony across the country.

But amid the gains came tragedy. The Pulse Orlando shooting and the bloody, underreported attack in Bar Madame, a Xalapa gay bar — not to mention prevalent homophobic attitudes across the country — left many questioning how far LGBT rights have really come.

Despite ambiguous progress on gay rights this year, political protest hardly seemed like the first thing on marchers’ minds on Saturday. Only a relative few number of participants carried overtly political signs, opting for gaudy crowns and pop culture-themed costumes instead. One family successfully pulled off an El Chavo del Ocho ensemble look, and Frida Kahlo costumes were as popular as ever in the city where the famous painter lived and worked.

Regardless of the lack of explicit political statements at Pride, some marchers reported that the recent shootings gave them additional motivation to show up and show out. “At least for me, [the recent anti-LGBT attacks had an empowering effect,” said fashion designer Carlos Soto. “In a way, it gave the force I needed to go out to the streets and be who I am without fear.”

Alberto Perera, 27 years old, Graphic Designer & Zaid Osuna, 25 years old, Stylist

“This is my first time at Mexico City Pride, but I think this year more than other years, it’s time to reclaim our space. There’s been a lot of struggle this year. It seemed like we had made a lot of advances, but now it seems like maybe that’s not the case.” – Alberto Perera

“I just got here, but it seems like everyone’s really happy, open, accepting of each other — which is really the point of these marches.” – Zaid Osuna

Nayelli Paulina Martinez Estrada, 25 years old, Hair Stylist & Norma Hernades Mejia, 44 years old, Adult Film Actress

“I loved the parade. I loved the atmosphere, the liberal attitudes. The floats were my favorite, although there were less with sound systems this year. The bears were the best, they’re special.” – Norma Hernades Mejia

Carlos Soto, 28 years old, Fashion Designer & Pepe Romero, 24 years old, Actor and Director

“The violence [in Orlando and Xalapa] probably didn’t change the Pride parade in and of itself. But at least for me, it had an empowering effect. In a way, it gave me the force I needed to go out to the streets and be who I am without fear. I guess Mexican politics should be focused on security and justice; making laws that are for all of us, including LGBT rights.” – Carlos Soto

“We’re carrying anti-capitalism flags. One of them says Transhumanidad, the other says that homophobia is ignorance. My march was good today, very political.” – Pepe Romero

Nicole Hilton, 23 years old, Pole Dancer & Aesthetician

“I’m carrying a sign that says ‘Donald Trump, I am your child.’ It’s because I don’t think Trump knows what Mexico is, who we are. I’m from here, Mexico City, and think that here in Mexico we have to be concerned with how the world sees us, what image we’re sending to the world.”

Jovan Israel, 25 years old, Communications Student and Illustrator

“I’m wearing fishnet tights, everything fishnet. It wasn’t planned, this was just what I found in my backpack this morning. I wasn’t planning on coming to the parade today in drag — I’ve never marched in drag. But my outfit is getting a lot of reactions. I think that there’s actually less people marching this year — and I think that might be because of a collective fear of what happened in Orlando, in Xalapa. The people are afraid … I was a little afraid of coming, to tell you the truth. Probably because of my mom. She was like ‘be careful, take care of yourself, I’ve seen what’s happening on the news. Something’s going to happen.’ But no! Right now everything is chill, relaxed.”

Deme Mondragon, 48 years old, Biologist

“I feel like people are extremely contradictory. I was walking earlier with a gentleman who was more than 75 years old and he was naked, and there were some people who were bothered by it! I think the human body is the most beautiful thing that we have, we have to respect it. You should be able to show it off if you want to. What’s the problem?”