Minutes before the match between Angel City and Houston Dash began, stadium cameras focused on Whittier-born Natalia Melendez and singer for Mariachi Arcoiris, who has been dubbed the number one mariachi in the LGBTQ+ community.
Melendez, the first transgender Mariachi singer, sang the United States national anthem for the first time on the football field, with great passion, sending a message of acceptance and respect.
“I felt a lot of pressure, I feel a huge responsibility to my community,” Melendez, the singer and violinist, said after he sang the national anthem at Bank of California on Tuesday night.
Melendez, the 11th oldest member of the Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, said she was proud to see how people viewed them and recognized them as something “normal,” when it wasn’t the case in her time.
“Playing with young people, men and women, is huge, because when I was that age it was hard for me to play with mariachis who represented ‘masculine’. I wasn’t ‘manly’. I wasn’t, I was so extravagant. Those were Other times, they’re lucky they don’t have to live what I’ve lived in. “I feel honored to see young people doing the things they love and being happy with,” Melendez said.
On Tuesday, this historic mariachi band performed on the turf of a historic team, too, the first Los Angeles women’s team in the Women’s National Football League, which celebrated a night of “diversity” and “pride.”
“Like this team, we have historical mariachi. It is the first mariachi to represent the LGBTQ community in the entire world,” Carlos Samanego, founder of Mariachi Arcoiris, declared that Samaniego was born in Los Angeles, father from Sonora and mother from Baja California, and has been playing for over 20 years in The role of the mariachi.
Samaniego noted that he founded mariachi seven years ago and that he didn’t expect it to be so successful, mainly because it initially started as a very personal thing: to create a safe place so that people like him could do what they love most, playing mariachi music.
“Playing with young people, both men and women, is huge, because when I was that age it was hard for me to play with mariachis who represented ‘masculine’. I wasn’t ‘masculine’.”
– Natalia Melendez, singer Mariachi Arqueres
El Mariachi Arcoiris has caught the attention of the press all over the world and recently Univision has a series dedicated to them. In two weeks they will be performing at the LGBTQ community rally in Zócalo in Mexico City.
“We wanted a place where we could play our Mexican music, where there weren’t those negative things, like the bullying I had in other groups,” said Melendez, whose anthem was heard by 16,739 fans on the soccer field.
“It is important that we make ourselves known elsewhere. There is a need for this,” Samaniego said, adding that he has received several messages from several people in the LGBTQ+ community who have expressed gratitude for giving them a voice in an environment of Mexican music that is still considered very manly.
“Unfortunately there is no other group like ours anywhere else, it is not found in all of Mexico. This tells us something about what our patriarchal culture is. Different people from different parts of Mexico wrote to me. They wrote to me and said, ‘I can’t believe mariachi exists.’ Thanks to us, we gave them the courage to come out of the closet. Samaniego has now confirmed that we are role models.
For Mariachi Arcoiris, the challenge is not only to accept it, but also to respect it. And the success they have had in various media makes them understand that there is still a lot of work to be done, as they still see many negative comments about them on social networks.
“A lot of people think we’re a joke, that we don’t take the mariachi very seriously,” Samaniego said, and his responsibility is for the mariachi to know not only to send a letter of acceptance but also that they know how to play well.
“We want people to see us as a mariachi who represents the LGBTQ+ community and our Mexican music in a dignified way,” said Samaniego, a former student of classical singing and violin.
Angel City FC’s Pride Night kicked off with a party at Northwest Plaza starting at 4 p.m. and featured special drink and dance performances for the fans. A DJ at the stadium played music all night with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community.
ANGEL CITY FC DOES NOT PASS THE RAW
Angel City FC couldn’t beat Dash on Tuesday night and had to settle for a goalless draw at Bank of California. The tie leaves them in fourth place with 10 points, while Dash is in second place with 12 points, one point behind leaders San Diego.
The next Angel City game will be on Saturday against Racing Louisville at 5 pm
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