In its fight for inclusion, members of the LGBTQ + community have been determined and have not given up: they look for a place in society and if it does not exist, they create it. Such was the case of Carlos Samaniego, who founded the world’s first LGBTQ mariachi band.
Samaniego is a man originating from Los Angeles, California and is a performer of mariachi music, but he suffered discrimination due to his sexual orientation, since he is openly gay.
Since he never found a place where he could feel comfortable with all his tastes, he decided to create it. It was in this way that he formed Rainbow Mariachi, a group that was joined by various members of the LGBTQ community.
“Over the years I have experienced a lot of discrimination, they made fun of me in various groups. I was not allowed to be in various groups because I am openly gay, so I decided to create Mariachi Arcoiris in 2014. They are musicians like me, within the LGBTQ community who, when we get together, we play mariachi music in a safe space“Explained the mariachi to ABC 13.
According to their online profile, the band Angelina gave a place to the first transgender woman mariachi, Natalia Melendez. Little by little they have gained more popularity and many more jobs, as they have even played for the Los Angeles and Long Beach Pride, the Transgender Pride and more community celebrations.
“You grow a lot. We recorded our first album and they invite us to do these wonderful and wonderful things like El Grito (a celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day) at the downtown Los Angeles city hall, ”explained the director.
Melendez, for her part, commented that making music was something that came to her very naturally and when she was very young, because her whole family is music. However something he also knew is that she was a woman “trapped in the body of a man.”
“I come from a family full of musicians. I fell in love with music at 7 years old. And at 8 years old, I started playing the violin. At a very young age, I knew it was different. I knew it was a woman trapped in a male body. I wanted to be like my other female friends, playing mariachi music, and I couldn’t do that. […] At first it was a struggle to be able to accept my new identity. Seeing how the public and society adapted to me, it was very difficult“Meléndez narrated.
Now the group is more accepted and known since it has played live for television stations like Univision. The number of its members has also increased, since being a group made up of five people, there are now 11 musicians.
“We have become a role model for other queer musicians in the world of mariachi. We have become a role model for people who are in these traditionally male jobs, “added the director.
However, they not only want to be remembered as an LGBT group, since they are also represented in Mexican culture, and at the end of the day, what speaks for them is the quality of their music.
“By On top of being LGBT, above all we are musicians. We are mariachi musicians. We represent a culture and tradition of Mexico. How well we play is how well we can represent our community. We must act at the highest possible level. This is how we are going to To defend ourselves against people who speak ill of mariachi, we simply say: ‘We are as good, if not better, than many other groups’Samaniego sentenced.
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