Revolution in the Sheets: Sexuality and Tolerance in the Mexican Left


ACLS Fellowship Program




Issues of sex and sexuality, such as abortion and homosexuality, were in an uneasy relationship with the revolutionary politics of the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) and other left-wing organizations since their foundation. By 1979, however, leftist leaders hoped to mobilize the burgeoning feminist and gay and lesbian liberation movements for electoral gain. Drawing on the interpersonal tolerance and right to privacy that rank-and-file militants had cultivated over the course of the century, party leaders constructed new political theses that protected sexual liberty in one’s private life. “Revolution in the Sheets” examines the limits of this approach. Within leftist circles in Mexico, the performance of militant sexual propriety had long served as a means of vocalizing intra-party grievances and distinguishing oneself for political gain. And though they had reconciled militancy with the right to sexual privacy, many leftists resisted expanding the defense of sexual rights beyond those bounds. Their opposition, which hinged on the question of tolerance, thus created a lasting legacy across the political spectrum of using tolerance-based strategies in response to the question of sexual liberation.