Ana Barrón is one of the most powerfully communicative women in San Miguel. She has used this power to highlight the social causes of the most vulnerable and to guarantee that they are seen, heard, get an appropriate response, and resolution of their issues. She studied communication, has practiced journalism for the past 15 years, and has become a role model for those whom she mobilizes. When she arrives at the scene of an accident or a news making event, children, young people, and adults greet her with respect, admiration, and joy. They might ask to take a photo with her or for an autograph.
Ana is energetic and spends her time covering social events, but she has also been exposed to some horrific incidents. She was among those who found a body—in a bag, discarded in the field—ahead of the authorities. She has also been involved in social activism events, such as the recent stone throwing during a confrontation between anti-riot state police and residents of Nuevo Pantoja.
People are aware of her sexual orientation because it is quite obvious. “Let’s say, I’m not very feminine,” she says between laughs.
Ana was born in Mexico City, but her grandparents had a connection to Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, and San Miguel. At one point her mother brought her to San Miguel, and left her with an aunt and her cousin. When she was five years old she was brought to the United States illegally.
“They told me to pretend I was asleep. I passed with false papers. We lived in Corpus Christi,” Ana said. They went to Corpus Christi, Texas because her mother wanted her to have a better life.
She was not happy in Corpus Christi. She was depressed and missed her aunts, her grandmother, her family in Mexico. “I remember that my Mom took me to the house where she worked. I was neglected. My cousin had always told me that on the other side of the Blue Mountains were the United States. My logic told me that Mexico was on the other side of that. I packed my Barbie, a stuffed toy, and sweets. I ran away.”
Her mother gave up a marriage proposal because Ana was diagnosed with depression, and they returned to Mexico.
“Since I was a child I was attracted to girls—but that was wrong, particularly coming from a Catholic family—and also to boys,” says Ana. “But gays are involved in religion and in processions. If you observe the festival of the Holy Burial you see many gays, because we are devotees.”
When Ana went to university, she believed she was the only girl who had not had a sexual relationship because of religious dictates. She recalls going with over 100 thousand youths for Christ to the Azteca Stadium. There they separated out homosexuals like her, even though they were without sin. “I made a covenant with God not to have a sexual relationship until I got married. They put a ring on us, and they gave us a text that we should repeat every time we had sinful thoughts,” she recalled.
At university she was curious and had many questions. She had a boyfriend and broke her covenant with God. Then a girl declared her love, but Ana said “no.” While still in college she met her current partner Gaby, with whom she has shared her life for the past eight years.
It was complicated. How to tell the family? What would they say, would they accept it? What difference did it make if they knew? Gaby had already told her parents, and her mother was supportive. Anita told her aunt, with whom she had lived since the age of 12, and she said, “I love you, I will support you. Happiness always comes first, and you should seek it.” Eventually she got the support of the entire family, particularly her cousin, who had previously told her that she was also gay.
“My Mom found out, but not from me. She wanted to lecture me, but it was not her place, as my aunt had raised me. Over time she assimilated it, accepted it, and we are on good terms.” The younger family members have been told little by little, the family knows it, accepts it, supports it.
Ana and her partner do not show affection in public even though they know that they can. They hold off to avoid negative comments.
“Intimacy is just that—intimacy. In fact, we don’t show it in front of my friends. Little by little I have been letting go. I try not to betray us, I do not want to fight or live through unpleasantness. But that was the past, and now we live in a more open society, which embraces diversity. Still, there those who resist viewing homosexuality as something natural. Gays are not a fashion, they have always existed. Now, with the freedoms that exist, they flourish at an earlier age,” Ana remarks.
She speaks about the laws that protect the LGBT community and says that they are there to take care of men and women as human beings.
“We need to understand that [gays] are more than a group, they are human beings. What has to change is the civil code of the State of Guanajuato. If we could get married, our partners would have benefits such as social security, for example. But that is not going to change in the state because of the conservatives (PAN) in Congress. Even the church has moved forward. Homosexuals participate in the liturgy, they live their faith as they feel it. If they have a boyfriend or girlfriend it should not prevent them from being close to God.”
As a final point, Ana—who classifies herself as bisexual—offered advice to gays who have not come out of the closet. “First of all you have to accept that you are gay. Go to places where you are not vulnerable. It’s worse to hold in your feelings. They are a time bomb that will explode and you can then hurt others; for example, those who get married, have children, and then come out of the closet, leaving behind their spouses and children. Before hurting others (and themselves) because of fear, they need to define what they want, and to be honest with themselves before following a life that others want for them, or that they think others want for them.”