Tens of thousands of people flooded Avenida Revolución on Saturday to celebrate Tijuana’s Pride Parade, which comes in the wake of some major victories for the gay and transgender rights movements in Mexico.
The event started around 5 p.m. at the corner of Calle Segunda and snaked its way through the city’s historic downtown district. Dozens of parade floats crammed with people dancing and waving colorful flags moved through the space. Music blasted from nearby bars and restaurants.
Leading the procession was a group of people holding a banner the width of the street. It read “Amor es amor”, meaning love is love, and “Tijuana LGBTI Pride.”
Crowds — estimated by authorities to be in the tens of thousands — lined the streets, waving, cheering and streaming video.
“In Mexico, we’ve just begun to earn the acceptance from the rest of the community,” said Macaulay Rodríguez, 29, who lives in the 5 y 10 neighborhood of Tijuana. “We’re advancing little-by-little.”
Mexican citizens weren’t the only ones to come out and celebrate. Andrew Vergowven from North Park handed out small, colorful flags during the event.
“I just came out here because this is my first Pride since COVID started, and I’ve had these flags waiting for three years,” said Vergowven. “This is the biggest thing I’ve seen in 10 years.”
The city’s 27th Pride Parade celebrated some major legislative advancements in recent months, according to members of Baja California’s LGBTQ community.
In August 2021, the state constitution was changed to allow same-sex couples to marry without a court order for the first time. Then, in January, Baja California’s legislature passed a law that allows transgender adults to legally change their name and gender.
At the city level, Regina Cornejo Manzo became the city’s first transgender public official and was named directora of Tijuana’s new Department of Diversity and Inclusion.
“I think this march is not just a celebration, because for the first time in so many years, we’re starting to see real changes too,” said Cornejo, who was crowned queen of this year’s event. “My office is one of them, but now we have also won the right to get married for same-sex couples. At the same time, we still have more work to do on transgender identity reforms.”
Critics say some aspects of the new law that allows adults to change their gender are insufficient. For example, only people born in Baja California and who are over the age of 18 are allowed to change their identity, according to Cornejo. Baja California’s Human Rights Commission has been calling for changes to eliminate those exceptions.
“We must guarantee that transgender children also have the right to change their gender identity,” Miguel Mora Marrufo, the commission’s president, told Voice of San Diego earlier this month.
Baja California’s religious conservative coalition remains a powerful force in state politics, often pushing back on reforms that advance the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Despite that, the city’s Pride Parade has grown dramatically in recent years and since the first event celebrated in 1995.
“There were 85 marchers the first year,” said retired San Diego journalist Rex Wockner, who dug up his coverage of the 1995 parade. “It was small enough that I was able to count them one-by-one rather than guesstimate.”
Parade organizer Lorenzo Herrera said members of the LGBTQ+ community still suffer from institutional discrimination and that changes have been too slow.
“It took the government more than 40 years to recognize all the work of the (LGBTQ+) community to be able to illuminate the (City Hall) with rainbow lights, and during that time 35,000 homosexuals had to die of AIDS,” Herrera told the El Sol de Tijuana. Herrera is director of Fondo de Asistencia Para el SIDA, a LGBTQ+ community center that offers counseling, health services and legal assistance, particularly to those dying from AIDS.
This was the first year the city established a transportation route that brought people to the march.