Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Yucatan's Queer Mayan Past

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Yucatan's Queer Mayan Past

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is world-renowned as the epicenter of mystical Mayan ruins-palaces of unknown kings, life-or-death ball games, and grand temples of public human sacrifice rituals. This lost culture is still shrouded in mystery, but what Mel Gibson declined to show us in Apocalypto is that the ancient Maya (who reigned in the area of southern Mexico and Central America, reaching their peak from about 250 to 900 A.D.) were also quite queer.

Hidden in the careful, elaborate shapes of some of the most famous Mayan ruins--Uxmal, Palenque, and seacliff-perched Tulum--intrepid travelers will find evidence of what some have called a phallic cult. Chichen Itzas and Uxmal's oldest ruins have entire temples and courtyards of phalli coming out of the ground and hanging off the walls-apparently used as waterspouts.

And the Maya were queer in other ways as well. Nowadays, Yucatan's lavish resort-land of Cancun harbors just a smattering of gay nightlife, but back in the day, drag queen performances were de rigueur in the region. …

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