“CARLOS JAUREGUI: THE UNFORGETTABLE FAG”— The Argentine Gay Leader

“Carlos Jáuregui : The Unforgettable Fag”

The Argentine Gay Leader

Amos Lassen

.Carlos Jauregui was the man responsible for bringing visibility for the LGBT movement in Argentina and it would never have been the same without him. This film tells his life story and we see that he was the most recognized LGBT activist from the 80s and 90s in Argentina.

Every LGBT community has a hero and this is the story of one such person; the man who was the outspoken and driving force for equality in Buenos Aires.

When Carlos Jáuregui graduated from the University in the late 1970’s, he went to graduate school in Paris, and then spent two years in New York where he saw how other countries had moved forward in he area of gay rights— so much more than Argentina. When he returned in 1982 after the fall of the Military Dictatorship and was replaced by an openly elected President, Carlos was able to found and establish the country’s very first LGBT organization, Argentina Homosexual Community (CHA) and became its first leader. 

What he wanted for the fledging community was to be visible and he and his lover at the time became the first openly gay couple to be featured in a major magazine spread. This was very controversial at the time.  It cost him his job as a University Professor,  but strengthened his ambition to raise the stakes even higher.

His brother Roberto who was also gay moved to Buenos Aires but he was not an activist like his brother. When they both were diagnosed with HIV, Roberto went public with the news and became a AIDS activist.  Oddly enough Carlos kept his own diagnosis private, (probably to protect Pablo his lover, who not only had the virus but was beginning to decline, but he still never revealed his status even after Pablo died).

Like so many other gay partners, the moment that Pablo died after Carlos had nursed him for ages, his late partner’s family turned up at the apartment and threw him and his belongings out on to the street.

In 1992 Carlos led  Argentina’s very first Gay Pride March, which even though it was sparsely attended and most of the marchers wore face masks for fear of being recognized and losing their jobs, it was a major success. In 1994 when the Catholic Cardinal made a public statement saying that the LGBT  community should be banished to their own country. Carlos then began legal proceedings against him.

Carlos’s biggest legacy is the fact that he insisted that to survive and prosper the LGBT community had to completely unite. “The movement he claimed had four ‘legs’ : gays, lesbians, transexuals and transvestites , and if any one of the ‘legs’ were missing the ‘table’ would fall down”.  This made him one of few gay male leaders anywhere that insisted that the movement should all be totally inclusive.

When the country’s National Constitution was changed in 1994, it gave Buenos Aires the right to write its own constitution.  So two years later Carlos drafted what cane to be known as Article 11 of the Statute of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. It proposed that one could no longer legally discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  However as soon as he submitted this, Carlos started getting very ill and time was running out for both the passing of the Law and his own life.

His very last public appearance was in that year’s Gay Pride March, but by now there were newer and younger voices prepared to take over for him.

After he died all of his colleagues from the political group GAY DC sat in the public gallery of City Hall as the Law was debated. Each of them had a photo of Carlos pinned to their chest, and Article 11 passed unanimously paving the way for more important laws in the future that would cover issues such as civil unions.

There was one last march where Carlos was still the figurehead and that was when his coffin was paraded through the streets because people wanted to publicly say goodbye to him with the dignity that he had taught them to be about their own lives. 

Writer/director Lucas Santa Ana  had to rely heavily on some patchy archival footage and a collection of personal photographs of varying qualities, but nonetheless Carlos’s story shines is bright and interesting to know about.

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