Juan Gabriel, Gay Mexican Icon

(January 7, 1950 – August 28, 2016)

With his glittery capes, slinky dance moves and ultra-romantic lyrics, Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel was an unlikely king in a country known for its machismo. He never spoke about his sexuality, yet was widely assumed to be gay. It’s no surprise that the singer was an icon in Mexico’s gay subculture.

Having sold over 100 million copies worldwide, Gabriel is among Latin America’s best-selling singer-songwriters. His eighteenth studio album, Recuerdos, Vol. II, holds the distinction of being the best-selling album of all-time in Mexico, with over eight million copies sold.

During his career, Gabriel wrote around 1,800 songs. Releasing 35 albums over the course of his 45-year career, he became beloved by multiple generations of fans in Latin America, Spain and the United States. His genres varied widely, from mariachi to salsa to disco.

In 2002, a few years before Mexico City legalized gay marriage, the famously effeminate singer shut down a journalist who asked if he was gay.  “You don’t ask about what can be seen,” he said.

Although Gabriel never publicly claimed the gay community, that community certainly claimed him, with his romantic Spanish-language ballads belted late into the night in drag bars on both sides of the border.

Many have credited Juan Gabriel with opening the door to greater expression of gender and sexuality, even if he never explicitly called for it. Like Prince, or David Bowie, Juan Gabriel was known for his gender-bending clothing and occasional touch of eye makeup.

“I think he made a deep cultural change not by talking about his sexuality but by living it out on stage,” said Alejandro Madrazo, a law professor in Mexico who is an expert on the legal battle for same-sex marriage in the country. “Juan Gabriel taught us how to be feminine.”

Madrazo recalled seeing Juan Gabriel perform before a large crowd at a cockfight, a sport that exemplifies Mexico’s machismo culture.  

“He would dance in a way that was sexy and provocative in front of all these stereotypes of a Mexican man,” Madrazo said. “He would literally shake … in their faces, and they would go crazy.”

In an homage to Juan Gabriel published on the website of Mexico’s Millenio newspaper, journalist Alvaro Cueva recalled friends making fun of Juan Gabriel for his effeminate stage presence. At some schools, his name was used as an anti-gay slur.

Cueva called Juan Gabriel subversive. “You … became an idol in a country of macho men,” he wrote. “You made homophobic people sing and dance.”

Eduardo C. Corral, the gay Chicano poet, shared a story on Twitter about how it was easier for his parents to accept him after he came out to them because of Juan Gabriel. “In high school, I came out first to my mom. She told my dad when he got off work at midnight. She was nervous. Afraid of his reaction. My dad’s response? He said, in Spanish, ‘So what? So is Juan Gabriel,’” Corral wrote.

The poet relayed an experience that was common for LGBT Latinos and their families. “Over the years, Juan Gabriel became part of many Mexican families. Yes, he was mocked. But there he was. In our homes. Familiar & strange. Queerness, then, became a presence in Mexican homes. In my home. This familiarity with queerness helped my father to keep loving his son,” tweeted the poet.

In all his glory, Juan Gabriel was an incredible performer and singer-songwriter, but it is his impact on the LGBT Latino community that must not be erased from the narrative of his legacy.

1D Name Trivia :D

In the spirit of the Tumblr Language day….I thought I’d like to share trivia about 1D names from the fandom on the Chinese platforms with those who wouldn’t normally be familiar with it (Though, shoutout to those I see sailing gloriously in both there and here :D)

So there exists boring, clunky phonetic “official” translation of the boys’ names in Chinese (for example used in the Toyota advertisements). However, in many contexts the direct English names are used. But I just adore the simple Chinese nicknames that fans adopted for them too! Each have a single-character moniker (that are sometimes doubled for cuteness, or compounded with adjectives)

Harry is 卷 (juan….(NOT pronounced Spanish Juan lol); means literally, “Curls”). People love calling him  卷 卷 …the more curls the better, eh? haha. Sometimes a phonetic element is added as well, 哈 “ha”, so he’s “Ha Curls”. Cute variations include “卷公主” or Curly Princess, “卷妹” or Little Sis Curls. Recently I even saw Harry referred to as 卷骚女… “Curly flirty girl/Curly bitch (but meant in an affectionate way)”

Liam is 莉 (li, phonetic. But this is not the usual “li” character for translating male names… the “li” chosen for Liam is a floral one meaning “jasmine”). I’ve seen him called 熊莉,熊 meaning “bear”, and 莉粑粑, 粑粑 “baba” meaning a kind of round rice-flour dessert treat. It is a pun on 爸爸, also pronounced “baba”, which is daddy, a reference to Liam’s early reputation as Daddy Direction.

Louis is 丝 (si, pronounced like a hiss, NOT like “see” or “sigh”….“Phonetic” for the “s” in LOUIS, hahaha the irony! - because there’s a tradition of translating the Western name Louis with the “s” voiced, by default. However, it has meanings of “silk,” “silky thread,” with connotations of delicateness, so it suits Louis well) He’s often referred to as 丝丝. On occasion, he’s 丝哥, with 哥 meaning “bro”.

Niall is 奶 (nai; phonetic, but it’s got the bonus meaning of “milk” that ties in to Niall’s innocent image). He’s often called 奶儿  (儿 , “er”, is a common suffix for “-ll” ending English names, but it also fits well with “Nialler”…and it also means “baby”) So he’s the Milk Baby.

 Zayn is 渣 (zha; like “juh” sound in “just”; it’s not phonetic, just based on the “Z”. Has bonus cute meaning of “little crumbs”…and is a homophone of 喳, the sound word for baby bird chirps) Often Zayn’s called 美渣,  美 meaning beautiful. Everybody wants a crumb of that gawjussness…or hear his lovely chirp.

Finally, a word on One Direction as a band name itself :) - On Baidu Baike (similar to Wikipedia) and official advertisements, One Direction is billed as 单向组合, literally “One Way Combination” - an awkward attempt at direct translation that can sound more like a name of a Traffic Police subunit….it’s little wonder that fans have rechristened them with a new band nickname: 小破团 or just 破团.  Though 破 can mean “scuffled, worn, bad”, here it suggests affection and familiarity, as in “Lil’ Bad Squad,” as if the boys are lovable rascals with unpolished but genuine endearing appeal.

Speaking Threads: New Evidence about the Mysterious Incan Quipus

Quipus were tied strings used widely in the Incan Empire. We know they were used for record keeping – counting people and livestock and potatoes – but it has long been speculated that the quipus might have been used for storing more complicated information. Could knotted strings have been their writing system? New evidence suggests it was, at minimum, possible. Two quipus have been protected by one remote Andean village since around the time of the Spanish conquest. San Juan de Collata’s village elders recently invited a researcher to study the two quipus the community had carefully preserved for generations.

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          Spanish Testament (Monasterio y Sitio de El Escorial en Madrid)

“The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Spanish: Monasterio y Sitio de El Escorial en Madrid), commonly known as El Escorial (Spanish pronunciation: [el eskoˈɾi̯al]), is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university and hospital. It is situated 2.06 km (1.28 mi) up the valley (4.1 km [2.5 mi] road distance) from the town of El Escorial.The Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: the royal monastery itself and La Granjilla de La Fresneda, a royal hunting lodge and monastic retreat about five kilometres away. These sites have a dual nature; that is to say, during the 16th and 17th centuries, they were places in which the power of the Spanish monarchy and the ecclesiastical predominance of the Roman Catholic religion in Spain found a common architectural manifestation.[1] El Escorial was, at once, a monastery and a Spanish royal palace. Originally a property of the Hieronymite monks, it is now a monastery of the Order of Saint Augustine. It is also a boarding school.[2]Philip II of Spain, reacting to the Protestant Reformation sweeping through Europe during the 16th century, devoted much of his lengthy reign (1556–1598) and much of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of New World gold to stemming the Protestant tide. His protracted efforts were, in the long run, partly successful; however, the same counter-reformational impulse had a much more benign expression thirty years earlier in Philip’s decision to build the complex at El Escorial.Philip engaged the Spanish architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo, to be his collaborator in the design of El Escorial. Juan Bautista had spent the greater part of his career in Rome, where he had worked on the basilica of St. Peter’s, and in Naples, where he had served the king’s viceroy, whose recommendation brought him to the king’s attention. Philip appointed him architect-royal in 1559, and together they designed El Escorial as a monument to Spain’s role as a center of the Christian world.[3]On 2 November 1984, UNESCO declared The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo of El Escorial a World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist attraction, often visited by day-trippers from Madrid – more than 500,000 visitors come to El Escorial every year.”


Mary the First - Childhood

Mary had like her parents a very fair complexion, with reddish-gold hair and pale blue eyes. She was also said to have inherited her ruddy cheeks from her father, Henry VIII.

Mary was an intelligent child who was able to play the virginals by the age of four, she showcased this gift when entertaining French ambassadors in July 1520. Including the virginals, Mary also excelled in music, dance, French, Spanish, could write and read Latin fluently and was said to know a little bit of Greek. A great part of Mary’s early education came from her mother, Catherine of Aragon, who commissioned the Spanish humanist, Juan Luis Vives, to write  De Institutione Feminae Christianae - A paper on the education of young girls.

Her father boasted that she was a peaceful child, stating to the Venetian ambassador, Sebastian Giustiniani, “This girl never cries”.

It was said by the Venetian Mario Savorgnano, that as she grew into adulthood “Mary was developing into a pretty, well-proportioned young lady with a fine complexion.”