When the group of six queer journalists from Canada, Mexico, and the United States piled out of the SUV, they had no idea they would make history in the sleepy town of Jala, Mexico. One of the country’s hidden gems, Jala is a “pueblo magico,” a magical town known for its rustic beauty and charm.
Located in Nayarit, the state north of Puerto Vallarta, the local tourism authority wanted to boost the number of LGBTQ+ people visiting the area. The group checked into the Nukari Quinta, a quaint inn with a gorgeous central plaza and roof deck bar overlooking the town.
The town was featured in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City novels as the hometown of Anna Madrigal. But these women have put in the hard work all on their own.
While the group was there to investigate the town, as the journalists strolled through the cobblestone streets, meeting locals and learning about their businesses and personal lives, the residents also took the chance to meet and get to know them as well. From a local spice manufacturer to a breathtaking rural family business perched on the side of a volcano that served them breakfast using local produce and meat fresh from the farm, the group was welcomed with open arms.
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But as they left, Brian Webb, the owner of Homoculture, had an idea. What if they staged an impromptu Pride parade for some extra photos? The intent was small, but the result was tremendous. As the group unfurled Webb’s Pride flag and assumed position, the nearby businesses emptied into the street to watch.
People gathered around to cheer and encourage the mini-parade and quickly started taking photos as nearby children ran to the edges to watch. As locals clapped and laughed in enjoyment, the group walked up and down the small block, posing for photos for their publications and, now, for the community. After the mini-march, people walked up to ask for pictures with the group and offered encouragement.
“It was amazing to see how organically this all came together,” Matt Skallerud, the president of Pink Media, told LGBTQ Nation.
“Being queer is a special membership we embrace. When we go to locations that may not be so exposed to the LGBTQ community, we can sometimes worry about negative reactions,” organizer Gustavo Rivas-Solis, told LGBTQ Nation. “Our Pride march was inspiring. The way we all came together to do it, not knowing what could happen and the reaction we received, was freeing. People came to the sides, looked at us, cheered us on, and recorded history being made alongside us. That was special. Magical Town took on a totally different meaning.”
As the group drove away to see the volcano, Skallerud exclaimed and showed the group a photo of them already posted on social media by an organization touting the benefits of being an LGBTQ+-friendly business. No one in the group had taken the picture.
“To be part of a first-ever anything relating to the queer community is an honor,” Instinct‘s Robert Dominic said. “Pride still matters, maybe now more than ever. If even one person in Jala saw us marching or saw photos of us proudly marching, they realized they are not alone.”
“In cities near and far, Pride parades have become an iconic symbol of empowerment, unity, and self-expression,” Webb added. “It was a spectacular moment to show our unwavering commitment to living life openly and freely, and to be welcomed with open arms by the local community who came out to celebrate with us. Wherever you are, be proud, and never be afraid to raise your flag to show your Pride!”