Click here to read Part 1 of The first gay marriage in Ecuador.|
An interview with Elizabeth Vásquez and Joey Hateley by María Amelia Viteri, Ph.D., Professor/Researcher at FLACSO/Ecuador (1)
MARIA AMELIA: So many levels. That’s the potential of this project. How did Hugo come into this conversation? How did that fit into the puzzle?
ELIZABETH: Hugo is an activist who consolidated this couple of subversive love perfectly in that he fit very well with Joey politically and performatively. Politically, he is a transfeminist who had explored the issue of masculinities prior to this project, he is an activist for the rights of male sex workers and he was willing to risk more for this than most. An alternativist proposal is always complex, and because it puts the team members in a vulnerable position, there has to be trust between everyone—it’s fundamental. Regarding performance, Hugo also fit perfectly with Joey in that “relationality” of gender that Joey alluded to earlier. How masculine or feminine a person appears depends a lot on who is at their side. An overly masculine man would have feminized Joey aesthetically, who, being a trans man without hormonal intervention, looks like a young boy. Hugo’s delicate gender expression, with his age and height being slightly less than Joey’s, produced an ideal “gay aesthetic” in the couple.
JOEY: Hugo and I really enjoyed our union. Our marriage was a political union and his mother and sisters are an absolutely alternative family. Our feeling of genuine commitment questions objections on how “real” our marriage was. The bonding of Manchester and Quito in this incredible way was beautiful, politically powerful and celebrated giving our communities visibility in systems that exclude us.
This wedding has been the hardest project I have ever done. I haven’t gotten residency yet, changed my sex or challenged gay adoption by filing a petition with Hugo in Quito. These are all things we intend to do. But we have already experienced resistance and prejudice. Lots of people have caused problems for Ellie and Ana Almeida, the Director of Project Transgender, for promoting this wedding. And the attacks on Hugo have taken the form of a class war. The corporate gays said Hugo was only marrying for a British passport. They also said – and this is transphobia that targets me – that Hugo could not be gay if he married a western trans “s/he”.
ELIZABETH: We take the attacks, in any case, as the cost of a political stand that gets played in the realm of bodies. In Joey and Hugo’s case, they literally made their bodies, genders and sexualities available to the public.
JOEY: And everyone has something to say. On the morning of my wedding day, I was responding to gay critiques on Facebook within the corporate mainstream community in Ecuador saying how this wasn’t a real gay wedding because I was trans and how they want a real wedding between two “normal” gay Ecuadorians and not some international weird spectacle ‘thing’.
MARIA AMELIA: You were talking about other people involved in the project. What about other artists? Have they been involved, have they been supportive? What about the art scene in Quito, Ecuador? As art is such a big part of this project…
ELIZABETH: The most important artistic collaboration, beyond Joey and Hugo’s own artistic interventions, was photography. Photographers Ana Belén Jarrín and Santiago Terán successfully captured the relationship’s multiple layers of trans-gender, trans-nationality and trans-ethnicity on film. Ana Belén Jarrín photographed the nude art session and the session on the subversion of the colonial narrative of matrimony, in which Hugo cross-dressed as a Quiteña woman of the colonial era and Joey dressed as a soldier, while Santiago Terán did the session on masks (which also has a colonial theme) and the session on the threesome with Brigitte Greenham. Brigitte was also the bridesmaid- she problematized the theme of desire outside marriage’s institutionalized monogamy. As for the bilingual rap, “Fact and Fiction,” we relied on a great music producer -Xavier Müeller- who made the track and arrangements, and on the interpretation of rapper Guanaco for the verses in Spanish, while Joey rapped the English verses.
JOEY: Ellie and I collaborated on the concepts behind the lyrics, then I wrote the English part, and Ellie translated some of the English lyrics into Spanish and wrote some of her own original lyrics for the full Spanish part. Guanaco and I performed the song live at the wedding party in la Ronda.
ELIZABETH: Like any couple, they had one civil ceremony and another symbolic one. The symbolic ceremony was on a public stage, hosted by the Municipality of Quito and it was full of people. They exchanged rings and the flags of Ecuador and the United Kingdom. It was very powerful. And the media coverage has been a success. We achieved a level of notoriety beyond any I had ever experienced before in an AUL. Traditionally, the dialogue between art and law is simply that law provides a legal framework to protect artistic activities and products. However, in this project, art and law affected each other mutually and the result was actually a public breakthrough.