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The first gay marriage in Ecuador: An Art-Law Collaboration. Part 2
by Marí­a Amelia Viteri

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MARIA AMELIA: Talking about the LGBT organizations -because you’re working on issues that are important on the world stage and will benefit a big majority- we know there are different power games and interests. So what about LGBT support, feminist groups, people working on gender issues, academics, what are some of the reactions?

ELIZABETH: The reaction in academia has been very positive, perhaps due to its being the space where the greater depth of such a complex project could be uncovered and understood. Ecuadorian trans activists -including trans-feminine organizations that are not transfeminist-have also been supportive, as have Spanish and Latin American transfeminist activists in general. Negative criticism - though not very consistent - has come mainly from the Ecuadorian mainstream gay movement. The main reason is that our project is essentially in conflict with their assimilationist position. However, it should also be noted that there is a certain transphobic tone to their discourse.

One of the corporate [mainstream] objections focuses on the idea that Hugo and Joey’s marriage is a “fraud.” This is very interesting because alternativism, as an irreverent political and legal position, problematizes the very notion of what is fraudulent, just as Joey’s theatre of terrorism problematizes the notion of a “true gender.” Gay lawyer Andrés Buitrón, a chief sponsor of the celebration of de facto gay unions in Ecuador, has on some occasions stated that he “legalizes love stories.” It’s understandable, then, that he would be shocked that the motivation behind the Hateley-Vera wedding is not the bourgeois version of love to which he adheres, but rather an alternative concept of family and political alliance that we have talked about extensively in this interview. Now, returning to the subject of fraud, the place where what is fraudulent and what is legitimate is decided is obviously a place of power. In the end, the aspiration to verify that marriages are done “for love” is ambitious, if not absurd. Neither love nor human desire can be legislated upon, and therefore, the border dividing marital motivations that are “legitimate” from those that are “fraudulent” is a political border. This is why a marriage celebrated by a pregnant girl for the sake of decency, and not love, will be accepted as legitimate, while a marriage between a Cuban and an Ecuadorian for the sake of human mobility, and not love, will be deemed fraudulent.

JOEY: I feel like a fraudulent man and a fraudulent woman every day. Every time I choose a gendered bathroom, I lie. When I go to the bank using my pronouned Visa card …. to get let back into the UK, I have to show customs bits of my body so they believe I’m female, I then I get told off for doing so and get a note put by my name at Heathrow’s airport system! There’s so many different ways I’m a gender terrorist, it’s ridiculous. (To Elizabeth) So, are you a real or fraudulent professional in this theatrical world of terrorism? Am I a real performer or am I an activist, a teacher, a director or a writer? Are you a lawyer or a social worker at Casa Trans? There are so many different titles that would apply to the multitude of performances, ‘roles’ and jobs you do as well…

ELIZABETH: And so many scrutinies of any role or performance outside of what is prescribed. Are you a lawyer? Why do you invest your knowledge this way? Aren’t you using what you know to mock the law? Are you sure what you’re doing isn’t illegal, or at least professionally unethical?

JOEY: Of course they’re going to misread and twist our politics in attempt to represent their own. It is an attempt to scandalize our work and discredit Hugo through his class, discredit us both through our kind of ‘love/lust’ (especially through our threesome with Brigitte) and through pointing me out as a foreigner whose exceptionality supposedly invalidates the project politically.

ELIZABETH: Gay transphobia is one of the sad realities this project has unveiled; especially transphobia toward trans men. The mainstream gay movement here is much more prepared to validate trans women as “women” than to validate trans men as “men.” That “men” without penises could exist, who also identify as “gay”, is still particularly hard to assimilate on the part of a deeply phallocentric movement that is moreover so used to the homogeneity of its members. For this reason, they have not hesitated to use the pronoun “she” when referring to Joey in their declarations about how, supposedly, his marriage to Hugo is not gay. I think that, in this sense, this marriage serves an educational function in regards to the body diversity that exists within the term “gay.” When asking Hugo’s hand in marriage, at Blackout [a gay bar in Quito], Joey presented himself before an audience mostly composed of young gay men, and he did this performance wearing a giant phallus suit. Then, he revealed his transgenderism to the audience. The idea that the giant phallus could be an “hembro” (a word that I use to describe a physically female person with a masculine gender) shocked many of the boys.

JOEY: I’m seen as this international gender-queer butch lesbian by the corporate gays. They say I am not a real man because I haven’t taken testosterone or had surgery perhaps. So between them, the splits and sabotage within our own communities, the cross-fire from western feminists, the mainstream Ecuadorian public and the diverse press reactions, not to mention the protests from the Christians and bombardment from the paparazzi on my wedding day, everyone seems to have something to say about this wedding!

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