In Mexico City, pride is not just a feeling, it’s a way of life. From the diverse food scene to vibrant art and a thriving queer community to the world of nightlife that never stops, Mexico’s capital is constantly celebrating its history, its culture, and most of all, its people. In Pursuit of Pride, our new video series, brings influential personalities in the LGBTQ+ community to W destinations around the world.
For the first installment in the series, there was no better place to start than in the diverse metropolis of Mexico City with actress, model, and trans activist Carmen Carrera. Initially, a star on the hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race, Carmen continues to be a public figure in the fight for trans rights, and – like Mexico City – isn’t afraid to be herself. Follow Carmen as she meets the celebrated queer community of the city and learns how Mexico City’s diverse background has laid the way for a culture that accepts everyone and every flavor.
After her trip, we caught up with Carmen to get the low down on her adventure and find out what she brought back home from her pursuit of pride.
Tell us about your time in the rink with trans luchador Miss Gaviota and queer luchador Diva Salvaje?
Carmen Carrera: Diva and Gaviota are probably some of the strongest women who work in Lucha Libre wrestling history. Being queer, in any situation, sometimes makes you have to question your safety. But for these women to have gone through everything they have gone through, and still, go out on stage to wrestle, and hear some of the not so nice things some people sometimes say, shows a real strength of character. They triumph through it and persevere. They are so in their element and they just go for it. There’s no fear.
You got to explore the murals of the city with Jorge Tellaeche. How would you describe the art scene in Mexico City?
CC: It’s really a hybrid. There are elements of folkloric design but then there are these new-wave, spiritual ways of thinking. There is a lot of thoughtfulness, especially in the street art. Jorge’s mural is there to inspire. When you create art to express what’s happening on the inside, it’s magic, but when you create art for the healing of others – that’s magical. It inspires others to create positive change in the future.
You talk a lot about activism through art and culture in Mexico. Do you feel that your presence is activism as well?
CC: Definitely. It’s about taking what you know and creating something new, about being visual and being present in your expression. Coming from someone who is trans, you are always thinking about how you come off to others, and being able to be free, and visible, and not care about the standard, is revolutionary. I create my art in many ways: I know as an artist that when people look at the art that I’ve done, it makes them think, and rethink their perception of trans women and who a trans woman could be.
People get so stuck on gender identity but I’m so much more than that. I’m intersectional. I’m Latina and I’m from New Jersey. Being able to express myself freely through my art means saying “I’m not going anywhere and I deserve a safe space to be me.”
And did Mexico City feel like a safe space to be able to be yourself?
CC: To be honest, I didn’t realize Mexico City was a safe place until after I visited. Going in, you know, you think, This is a new place, I’m not sure how this will be. But it did feel safe. There is a lot of diversity there. Of course, people will have their opinions of you but it doesn’t mean you have to shelter or hide.
I always feel free when I travel. I never want to come home because I feel like I can absorb so many new ideas and new inspiration. But at the same time, as a queer person, you are always questioning your safety. It’s programmed in your mind. It sort of sucks. To have to question if its ok to function, to walk down the street, to express their love, their clothing choices or their gender.
Can you describe your experience getting the cleanse in the Zocalo?
CC: I’m a very spiritual person so I can tap into a lot of these energies. I felt the most powerful cleansing that day, surrounded by these people, the beating of the drum, the burning of the leaves. It was so alive. It was real. I felt lost somewhere in a Mayan temple praising gods…it took me to another time.
I remember leaving that place having the biggest headache. It was like everything was being cleared from my mind. I learned so much about myself – to be vulnerable, to allow them to do what they do, to feel it. It’s not just a tourist attraction, it’s real. I felt it in my heart and in my soul.
Describe Mexico City now that you’ve come home from your adventure.
CC: Mexico City is fun. It’s vibrant. It’s alive. And it’s awakened.
It’s full of culture and it’s rich in excitement. There’s history, there’s progression, there’s art, there’s food. It’s basically like…a playground for anyone who wants to explore something new. There’s mystery. There’s excitement. There’s fun. There are people. There’s good weather, which is great. I really think it’s magic. Going to Mexico and allowing it to be my escape, I really believed I was in a magic place.
Want the ultimate LGBTQ guide to Mexico City? W Hotels has teamed up with queer media platform THEM. to create an interactive city guide of where to eat, drink, party and explore in Mexico City, celebrating some of the diverse, historical, social, and insider experiences that are at times overlooked by traditional guidebooks. Check it out here!