The 1960s are an important decade in Latino LGBTQ history. For example, although the relationship between Spain and many colonized areas is complex, Spain and Mexico have one significant thing in common: groundbreaking queer literature happening in 1964.
Los soldados lloran de noche (The soldiers cry at night, 1964) is one of the first two novels in Spanish (from Spain) literature to incorporate lesbian characters during the 1960s. The author, Ana María Matute, included a same-sex encounter in her story that is mentioned as influential in the life of a young female character.
Matute is known as one of the strongest voices from the posguerra (period immediately following the Spanish Civil War).
Meanwhile, also in 1964, Miguel Barbachano Ponce released what has earned recognition as the first novel in Mexico to openly cover homosexuality: El Diario de José Toledo (José Toledo’s Diary, 1964).
Ponce was a Mexican film producer, director, screenwriter, novelist and Mayan art collector. The Manuel Barbachano Collection is the biggest private collection of Mayan art.
Ponce’s novel may have been a “first” but it’s received mixed criticism over the years. In Danger Zones: Homosexuality, National Identity, and Mexican Culture, author Claudia Schaefer flagged El Diario de José Toledo as a cultural danger zone along the path to harmonious national discourse (chapter 1 is called “El diario de José Toledo: The Fantasies of a Middle-Class Bureaucrat”).
It wouldn’t be until 1989 that the first Mexican lesbian novel, Amora, would arrive.
Written by Rosamaria Roffiel, an openly lesbian self-taught journalist and writer, Amora is credited in as being the first lesbian novel published in Mexico that openly discussed lesbianism and placed it in the foreground.
Additional recommended reading: Tortilleras: Hispanic and U.S. Latina Lesbian Expression
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