The Rainbow Tide

Spreading gay rights show the clout of a secular middle class.

WITH her eyes ablaze under a mop of boyish hair, Yoalli Lora sums up the lessons she has learned from years battling Mexican authority. “In Mexico the laws don’t work unless you create a scandal.” She says this forcefully enough to turn heads at the genteel Sanborns restaurant in Mexico City where she is tucking into enchiladas. Her mother flinches, but not because of the attention. “Oh my love,” she says. “You are only 14, yet you already know this.”

Yoalli may be young, but her defiance has the timbre of experience. At eight she realised that she was a lesbian, and at 13, grief-stricken over a forbidden love, she confided in her sympathetic parents. Yet her all-girls school in Mexico City tried to stamp it out of her. Yoalli was told to use a more feminine hairstyle, not to touch other girls “except on the shoulder”, and to visit the lavatory only in the company of a member of staff.

This year she left the school, worn down by stress. But she got her own back. Supported by a lesbian pressure group, Metal Muses, she staged a protest outside the school gates that attracted national attention. After the intervention of Mexico’s National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Conapred), a federal body, the school apologised to her on October 5th.

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