Joselito Ortega, a Spanish matador, is advertising on his cape an energy drink marketed to gays. The drink's name is anything but subtle: Gay Up. The name of the drink will be embroidered on his pink cape in large red letters.
In Spain, matadors are seen by many as the pinnacle of macho, and Ortega's agreeing to endorse a product geared toward gay men is raising eyebrows.
But Ortega sees no incompatibility.
"I am a bullfighter. That is not going to change. I am going to go out into the ring as I have done until now, to risk my life, and the seven goring wounds on my body prove that," he told The AP Wednesday. "If the gay community welcomes me as an image or a symbol, that is fine."
Ortega is not a high-profile matador in Spain, a country where bullfighting makes stars out of its top toreadors. His endorsement on his cape is raising eyebrows, not necessarily because Gay Up is a gay-marketed product, but because capes are considered off-limits to such commercialism. One bullfighting analyst said it was like "prostituting the cape." Ortega said he is trying to shake up the sport, which is steeped in machismo.
"It is a matter of changing what is normal, or usual, within this world that seem so untouchable," Ortega said.
In none of the stories I read did I see a reference as to Ortega's sexual orientation, so I am not sure if this is a publicity stunt by a lesser-known matador or a social statement.
Ortega's choice of product might have touched a nerve within a world populated by matadors dressed in tight-fighting, sequined traje de luces - suits of lights.
One matador wrote to the Spanish daily El Mundo yesterday: "I am a torero and I am gay. Ortega is brave. I stay in the shadows."
Bullfighting has always seemed like a barbaric sport to me anyway, which is why I root for the bull, regardless of who the matador sleeps with.