Monday, January 13, 2014

Queering Mayanness: the Trans Maya Queen

Back in November, my eye was caught by a notice on Facebook for a pageant to select the Reina Maya de la Diversidad Sexual (Maya Queen of Sexual Diversity -- that is, the drag or trans Maya Queen). I was so intrigued that if the date (November 8) didn't fall right between two conferences I was attending, one in Oaxaca and one in Chicago, I would have considered doing some thing crazy like flying down. I had some contact with the sponsoring organization -- the Iniciativa para la Diversidad Sexual del Occidente (the Initiative for Sexual Diversity in Western Guatemala) starting back in 2011 when I attended what I think was the first pride march in Xela (it was also my first trip to Xela, a city that has become one of my several "second homes" in Guatemala). I have done some work (although I haven't actually written anything) on the whole panoply of "Maya queen/Maya princess" pageants, which are seen by some as folklorism and by others as important manifestations of ethnic pride and (gendered) racial identity. The idea of a trans Maya queen seemed to bring even more sharply into focus the questions of sexuality, gender and race. 

And so I decided, although I have enough loose ends of research and enough projects or partial projects to keep me busy for a while, that I wanted to at least try and talk with the organizers and some of the candidates, if possible. Which I was able to do on Saturday afternoon. A fuller discussion of that will have to wait, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't take many photos (I started to shoot video when I interviewed the winner of the pageant, and the battery quickly ran down).

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