A telenovela in Mexico made history on Sunday (23 June) by starring gay characters as the leads for the first time ever.
Juntos, El Corazon Nunca se Equivoca, which premiered last night, is a spinoff of another telenovela, Mi Marido Tiene Mas Familia, which ran from 2017 until this past February.
In the original Spanish-language soap opera, there was a gay couple: Aristoteles (Emilio Osorio) and Cuahutemoc or ‘Temo’ (Joaquin Bondoni).
These two are now the stars of the spinoff. The new series follows Aristoteles and Temo as they move to Mexico City to attend university, according to Reuters.
Televisa, the network behind the two shows, said the original was one of its most-watched programs. The finale drew in around four million viewers.
There has been a lot of excitement for the spinoff on social media.
‘It shows that there are a lot of people, and a lot of young people of different ages who are interested in being able to connect with this kind of story,’ said Santiago Pineda, a writer on both the original telenovela and the spinoff.
‘We wanted it to be a friendlier approach so that everyone could see that Aristoteles and Temo, beyond their sexual orientation, were both people with dreams, goals, fears and aspirations.’
Some conservative politicians, however, have criticized such programming.
Carlos Leal, a politician of the ruling Morena party, wrote on Twitter in January: ‘It’s clear that television channels are trying to “normalize” homosexuality from youth with a pro-LGBT agenda.’
A medium with increasing representation
Soap operas worldwide are beginning to see more and more LGBTI characters. Most of them are still men, but women are becoming represented more lately, as well.
Mexico boasted some of the first LGBTI characters in Central and South America telenovelas.
Volver a empezar aired between 1994 and 1995. One character, Paul, was an openly gay hairdresser and one of the first LGBTI characters on the network.
Both Brazilian and Argentinian telenovelas have also featured LGBTI characters.
In the US, LGBTI characters started appearing in the 1980s, on shows like All My Children and As the World Turns. Most US soaps, however, haven’t started portraying LGBTI characters until the 2000s and beyond.