Thematic Collection: LGBTQ+ and Latin American History

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Curated by Scott Doebler

Thematic Collections are assortments of past and recently released articles in HAHR about key issues, events, individuals, or historiographical trends. These collections can be used as gateways into a specific historical subject, demonstrations of methodology, or sources for classroom discussion.

The LGBTQ+ community has faced and continues to struggle against harsh discrimination because they blur gender binaries and challenge sexual norms that until recently were taken as natural. Expressions of support, teaching, and scholarly discussion of LGBTQ+ issues were seen as taboo and, at times, even dangerous. For many across Latin America and the United States, this experience continues to be the unfortunate reality. Happily, scholars of Latin American history and culture have given increasingly sustained attention to gender and sexuality studies, which we at HAHR are proud to highlight here. Informed by a multitude of diverse sources, methods, and interdisciplinary connections, we clearly see that LGBTQ+ people are indeed crucially important to the histories and cultures of the Americas. Scholarship on homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, queerness, and other forms of gender and sex nonconformity has illuminated how genders and sexualities have been constructed historically, how they intersect with issues like race, class, health, and nation, how complex cultural interactions complicate notions of human sexuality, and how unique circumstances in Latin American history contextualize constructed norms. The five articles included here explore differing expressions of these issues over the centuries and in varied contexts. Collectively, they demonstrate the extraordinary diversity of the expressions of human sexualities and exciting possibilities for further research.

Sex and the Colonial Archive: The Case of “Mariano” Aguilera
María Elena Martínez
This article challenges the meanings of hermaphroditism and androgyny in the Atlantic world by looking at “Mariano” Aguilera and the colonial administrators’ responses. As a useful teaching tool, HAHR has hosted an online forum on this article, featuring contributions from five top scholars in the field.

Dictatorial Rule and Sexual Politics in Argentina: The Case of the Frente de Liberación Homosexual, 1967–1976
Pablo Ben and Santiago Joaquin Insausti
This article studies the Frente de Liberación Homosexual (FLH, 1967–76), the first political movement of homosexual men in Argentina.

The Cuiloni, the Patlache, and the Abominable Sin: Homosexualities in Early Colonial Nahua Society
Pete Sigal
This article studies the place of homosexuality in Nahua society as it changed during the colonial period.

“Who Is the Macho Who Wants to Kill Me?” Male Homosexuality, Revolutionary Masculinity, and the Brazilian Armed Struggle of the 1960s and 1970s
James N. Green
This article explores how leftist Brazilians with homoerotic desires navigated the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s while also facing challenges from other leftists.

“She Neither Respected Nor Obeyed Anyone”: Inmates and Psychiatrists Debate Gender and Class at the General Insane Asylum La Castañeda, Mexico, 1910–1930
Cristina Rivera-Garza
This article studies the meaning of mental illness, intersection with gender, sexuality, class, homosexuality, and public health in complex ways.

Top image: Día de la Visibiliad Lésbica Santa Fe, Argentina, 2018. Photo by Tamara Zentner. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. (Find the original here.)

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