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The Story of the 41 Gays

In 1901, Mexico City police raided a clandestine party and arrested 41 men, half of whom were dressed as women. To humiliate the 41, the police paraded the prisoners in public. Many of those arrested were sent away and subjected to slave labor. During the same period, Mexican culture was developing an atmosphere of sexual curiosity, and the media coverage of the arrests resulted in a movement that some believe led to the birth of the concept of homosexuality in Mexico.

The book, “The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901,” situates the event within the context of Mexico City’s underworld in the early twentieth century.

Mexico City has come a long way since 1901 with its recent support of same-sex civil unions, yet for many in the nation and for many of Mexican descent living beyond its borders the number 41 continues to signify homosexual mockery, shame, and weakness.