Feminist, lesbian, politician

by Lucía Riojas Martínez

Black and white thinking (Issue II/2022)


Photo: Luis Antonio Rojas

Just before the current government took office in December of 2018, I was sworn in as a Congresswoman for the Mexican Lower House, known as the Chamber of Deputies. During my maiden speech, standing before my 499 fellow members of the Chamber, I spoke openly and proudly about being a lesbian and a feminist; I outlined the threats and challenges faced by the LBGTQ+ population and about the importance of reclaiming and re-signifying spaces of power for more people to access them. I was immediately ridiculed on social and traditional media, scrutinized for how I looked, my sexual identity, my age, my experience, my family, my history and that I wore both a pro-abortion green handkerchief and the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag.

Being open about my sexual identity, supporting abortion and reproductive rights for all, demanding feminism be trans inclusive, as well as defending the right to protest has often resulted in a barrage of aggression being unleashed against me. In the past I have had to take some of the threats I’ve received seriously and escalated the matter to police and even then, I know I am a lot luckier and more privileged than most. Many women who have also spoken up in Mexico have gone unheard, and many more have had no opportunity to expose the violence they live through at all. 

I am now working in local government in the North of Mexico as the Secretary, or Speaker of the Monterrey City Council. Whereas in our national Congress I had one vote and I was mostly in opposition to the majority, I am now designing policy, executing it and promoting cohesion between opposing political factions, citizens, NGOs and other local governments in order to guarantee 4 million citizens have an efficient, transparent and prosperous city. My role has radically changed, although none of my beliefs or core values have, and I know that is why I was asked to join this City Council – because of what I’ve stood for and how I’ve done it. For example, I use my political clout to support independent congressmen - and I founded “Casa Frida”, the first LGBTQ+ emergency shelter in Mexico.

Since being here, I’ve worked to establish a completely different term of relationship with the citizens of Monterrey but also within the government’s halls. This government is young and the Mayor won the election promising change, proximity, transparency and dignity for all. Representation should matter not only for what can be evidently seen to be different but for what that difference can possibly mean when translated into actions. I know that the way I’ve embodied and stood for my political views (which are also deeply personal) has made me a target for many. Yet it has also opened the world up for me in a way that could never have been possible otherwise.

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