clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mexican soccer fan explains why 'puto' is a gay slur

New, 9 comments

Defending the chant is akin to defending the Confederate flag.

Mexico's soccer team prior to the match against Guatemala
Mexico's soccer team prior to the match against Guatemala
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you watched Sunday's 0-0 draw between Mexico and Guatemala at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, you would have heard Mexican fans roar "¡puto!" every time the Guatemalan goalie kicked the ball in for play.

We wrote extensively last year during the World Cup about why puto is a gay slur, yet the word has legions of defenders (including many Mexican players who say it is not meant that way). Sorry, it is a slur despite FIFA clearing Mexicans fans at last year's World Cup. FIFA is not exactly the best moral arbiter of what's offensive.

Since the chant is once again becoming news, I asked Andres Aradillas-Lopez, an economics professor at Penn State who was born and raised in Mexico and still follows El Tricolor, to explain again why puto is a slur. For the record,  Aradillas-Lopez is not gay. Here is his reply:

"Another international soccer tournament, another opportunity for Mexican soccer fans to showcase their ugly 'puto' chant to the world. Concomitant with this come the apologists who claim that this chant has nothing to do with homophobia. Their argument is that 'puto' in a wide sense simply refers to someone who suffers from a 'lack of manhood' but not necessarily gay.

"What they omit to say is that 'puto' has always been a derogatory term used against gay men and, therefore, is a gay slur. In the macho universe, gay men are a subset of the universe of 'putos' (I would like them to tell me why, then, do they not chant 'puta' at women's soccer games).

"This defense of the 'puto' chant is as weak as the defense of the Confederate flag as a symbol of heritage and not of racism: 'This flag honors my ancestors' or 'This flag was used in the Dukes of Hazard, a lighthearted, fun TV show.' As clear as it is that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, the word 'puto' stands for a gay slur and the reason, in both cases, is very simple: The person waving that flag or chanting that word does not get to decide the meaning of those symbols. It is the groups who have been VICTIMIZED by those symbols who get to decide.

"And this is not up for debate, not even by the most ardent puto-apologists: almost every gay man in Mexico at one point in their lives has been called 'puto' in an offensive, threatening, derogatory way. This is what makes it a homophobic chant, which is inexplicable in a country that legalized gay marriage even before the United States. It is too sad that this embarrassing chant has become Mexico's most notorious contribution to the world of sports as of late. 

"Mexico is not a homophobic country; for some reason soccer fans acquire a mob mentality and start chanting this word like automatons. One-on-one, 99.9% of them would never say it. Nevertheless it HAS to stop."

I don't expect "puto" to stop at soccer games and I fully expect its defenders to tie themselves in knots defending it. After all, until a few weeks ago, the Confederate flag was flying on may public buildings in the U.S. and had ardent defenders, proving that eradicating symbols of hate happens slowly.

Related:

Aradillas-Lopez sent me several links in the Spanish-language media on why "puto" is offensive:

http://aristeguinoticias.com/2606/mexico/verguenza-de-putoo-articulo-de-jose-woldenberg/

http://www.letraslibres.com/blogs/el-minutario/el-bochornoso-puto

http://laaficion.milenio.com/firmas/carlos_albert_juegolimpio/Ppppuuuutttooo_18_321147904.html

http://www.milenio.com/firmas/carlos_marin/grito-miserable_18_321147913.html

http://www.milenio.com/firmas/carlos_marin/ofenda-solo-dice-puto_18_322947732.html

http://www.milenio.com/firmas/carlos_marin/Ignorante-reincidente_18_323547687.html

http://www.milenio.com/firmas/carlos_marin/magnitud-insulto_18_324147615.html

http://www.milenio.com/firmas/alvaro_cueva_ojoporojo/Puto-lea_18_322347784.html

http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2014/06/23/mundial_futbol/1403484063_736887.html