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‘Dance of the 41’: Homophobia historicized

An untold part of Mexico’s history is told in Dance of the 41, now streaming on Netflix.

IT seems, whenever persecutions happen to marginalized individuals, including those seen as homosexuals or gays, judgment always happens at the site of a Catholic Church or around its patio. Thus, when 41 (?) men belonging to a secret society—actually a brotherhood of men into men and/or men into women’s clothes—are arrested by government one night, they have to be hauled out in public, brought to a plaza where moral guardians can ask God to look at them. This is strange and anomalous knowing how it has been proven that what this institution has declared as “perversion” is prevalent within its communities.

All this is at the core of the film Dance of the 41 (El Baile de los cuarenta y uno). The title refers to a ball involving men who belong to the most prominent families in Mexico, or at least hold prominent positions in the government.

The scandal takes place during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz, which brings no less than the character of the president within the crisis and controversies of that period. The president does not only provide a historical point in the depiction of the event; the president himself is related to one of the lead personas who figures in the cause célèbre of 1901 Mexico.

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