Living History: Transformation of the LGBTQ Movement in Mexico: A Glimpse through the Life of Juan Jacobo Hernández

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Juan Jacobo Hernández, a pioneer in the Mexican gay rights battle, was in Puerto Vallarta in June 2023 to presented his book “Locabulary, Language and Oppression” and to give a keynote lecture entitled “45 Years of LGBTIQ+ Struggle.”  O&APV chief photographe Oscar Almeida talked with Hernández to capture the historic visit to Vallarta and his reflections on the history of the gay rights movement in Mexico. 

He was invited to Puerto Vallarta by the Movement for Equality in Mexico (MOVii), because of his important role in the first demonstrations in favor of diversity in Mexico in the 1970s. 

The LGBTQ liberation movement in Mexico has been a brave and persistent struggle for equality and recognition of the rights of the community. One of the pioneers in this battle is Juan Jacobo Hernández, a man hailing from León, Guanajuato, whose journey has been pivotal for advancing the cause in the country.

Juan Jacobo Hernández
Juan Jacobo Hernández

Origins of Activism:

Juan Jacobo Hernández studied French Language and Literature at UNAM during the years 1961-1966. His commitment to the LGBTQ rights struggle was forged in a time when diverse sexuality expression was criminalized. Despite these challenges, Juan Jacobo became a teacher of English, French, literature, and theater, melding his passion for education with activism.

Founding Key Movements:

The 1960s and 1980s marked the rise of sexual liberation movements in Mexico, and Juan Jacobo Hernández was at the forefront. Co-founder of the Homosexual Liberation Front of Mexico (FLH) in 1971 and the Homosexual Front of Revolutionary Action (FHAR) in 1978, he contributed significantly to shaping the collective consciousness of the LGBTQ community. These movements were a starting point that paved the way for subsequent protests and mobilizations.

Impact on Collective Consciousness:

Juan Jacobo Hernández’s activism transcended the boundaries of the LGBTQ movement. He recognized that the fight for homosexual community rights was intertwined with other struggles, such as women’s rights, indigenous communities, and Afro-descendants. This holistic approach drove broader cultural and political change in Mexico, promoting inclusion and social recognition in human rights matters.

Transformation and Continuity:

Today, Juan Jacobo Hernández, who is 81-years-old, remains a prominent figure in LGBTQ activism in Mexico. He directs Colectivo Sol, an organization founded in 1981 dedicated to HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease prevention, as well as empowering communities through projects and programs. His political role and human rights advocacy have crossed borders, participating in international conferences and activities.

The Future of the Fight:

Juan Jacobo Hernández’s vision for the future is clear: organizations and institutions specialized in sexual rights must continue to foster discussion spaces and adapt to the changing needs of the 21st century. His perseverance and dedication continue to inspire future generations of LGBTQ activists in Mexico and beyond.

The life and work of Juan Jacobo Hernández encapsulate the evolution and impact of the LGBTQ liberation movement in Mexico. His legacy is tangible proof that the struggle for sexual equality and liberation transcends time and space, remaining a beacon of hope for those who persist in the pursuit of a more inclusive and diverse world.

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