Herald World Staff
MEXICO CITY -- Lilith Reyna was expecting ardent believers to
drizzle holy water
on her head as she entered the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Reyna led some 150 Mexican gays and lesbians through the doors
of the shrine
Saturday -- the first time a group of openly gay Christians has passed through the
doors of Mexico's most important Catholic shrine -- which sits near the site where
an image of the Virgin Mary was seen in 1521.
``I thought there would be a priest at the door sprinkling us,
hoping we would
change,'' said the 22-year-old communications student and march organizer who
was relieved that the landmark religious procession came off without incident
despite earlier telephone threats.
The pilgrimage was sponsored by a fledgling Mexico City chapter
Metropolitan Community Church, an international ecumenical organization. The
1.5-mile walk along the broad Guadalupe Boulevard was billed as a pilgrimage
against intolerance and hate crimes. In Mexico, machismo -- overt manliness --
and Catholic sermons preach against homosexuality.
Some take it further: In Mexico City alone this year, gay support
reported 150 hate crimes -- most of them unsolved murders and violent assaults
``This is an act of faith for us,'' said the Rev. Jorge Sosa,
leader of the
Metropolitan Community Church in Mexico City. ``The Virgin protects everyone
and accepts everyone, and we're here to show her our devotion and to ask her
protection as we fight for our rights in Mexico.''
Religious analysts say Mexican attitudes toward homosexuality
Increasingly, gay rights are debated among politicians and community leaders --
including Patria Jimenez, the country's only openly gay member of congress.
Jimenez, a practicing Catholic who was due to lead the march,
declined at the
``She didn't want to politicize the event,'' said Reyna. Jimenez
is from the Party of
the Democratic Revolution, Mexico's leading leftist opposition party.
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald