Sitting at this very desk, dreaming and wondering, in 1958, of what might lie in my path, I composed a letter to the admissions office of the University of Mexico in Mexico City. There was no proper format, rather just asking for the requirements and procedure for entrance. And I probably didn’t know more than five or six Spanish words. I’d dropped out of Spanish in high school, and switched to Latin because someone told me it would come in handy, especially if I wanted a ‘classical education’.
Maybe I got the admissions forms, maybe I didn’t, but I remember being pointed, instead, toward that small, liberal arts prep school within a five hour drive of my village.
The next time I considered Mexico, I had already lived and worked in Holland, and had traveled to most European countries. I had also been offered a teaching position in Thessaloniki, Greece, just based on what might have been the best typewriter written resume I had ever composed.
When people ask why I moved to Mexico, there’s a vague memory of a world map that flashes upon my mind’s eye. The map was intending to show regions of the world which might be gay-friendly or where existing laws forbade discrimination based on that country’s Constitution. Of all of North and South America’s countries, Mexico was the only one shown in pink.
A vacation celebrating my Master’s Degree in 1969 took place in Yucatan, including Cozumel Island and Merida. It was hot as Hell that August, but the adventure quotient was just as high. Diving in those clearest of waters on Palancar Reef and eating the meat of the conchs that I helped capture, in a ceviche made by the dive master, made me squint at the bitterness of the fresh Key Limes, as I mentally started squinting and planning the next dive vacation.
And years passed, a year in NYC, two in Miami Beach and nine on the Island of Key West. Sitting there rocking on the front porch of the old Conch house which I owned, feeling comfortable, but without, and remembering the lyrics of Peggy Lee’s recording of “Is that all there is?” a song of disillusionment and quest for a higher high, I was lured to search for more. Living life in a speedo and on a bicycle, was not bad, but something was missing. Where was the true adventure?
In 1980 I left Key West for Merida — rented a house and began filling the basket full of everything ‘tropical’. Thirty-six years later, the ache to return is intense, after only a brief summertime away.
On April 29, 2003, the Federal Congress unanimously passed the "Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination", including sexual orientation as a protected category. The law, which went into effect on June 11, 2003, created the National Council to Prevent Discrimination to enforce it. Mexico became the second country in Latin America, after Ecuador, to provide anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Article 4 of the law defines discrimination as:
"Every distinction, exclusion or restriction based on ethnic or national origin, sex, age, disability, social or economic status, health, pregnancy, language, religion, opinion, sexual preferences, civil status or any other, that impedes recognition or enjoyment or fights and real equality in terms of opportunities for people."
— Article 4, Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination