“I now think of the figure of the martyr, the surrender of one's own body that is fulfilled by death. He always said he was going to die before he was fifty. And he died before he was forty."
A life is more than the sum of its parts. As we dive into the life of Carlos Jáuregui we find this to be particularly evident. An Argentinian man who, while ambitious and accomplished, did not get the time to build the life he deserved and left a legacy that will span out farther than he could have imagined.
Unlike many of our articles, we will not start from the beginning, but the end. Carlos Jáuregui died at age thirty-eight due to complications from AIDS, the same thing that killed his partner Pablo Azcona and brother Roberto Jáuregui years earlier. From what we can tell, his death was not a surprise to him. When discussing Carlos’s death, César Cigliutti said “I now think of the figure of the martyr, the surrender of one's own body that is fulfilled by death. He always said he was going to die before he was fifty. And he died before he was forty."
But expected or not, Carlos’s death was a massive loss. He was a man who led the first Pride Parade in Buenos Aires in 1992, and helped move Argentina to the point it is today, as one of the world leaders in queer rights.
He was the first president of Homosexual Community of Argentina (CHA) and was recognized through the country for his activism in queer rights. When we discuss Carlos Jauregui, it's important that we acknowledge how we even know about him. That was a very intentional, very political move on his part.
He believed that the most effective way to educate was to change the public image of queer people. Instead of living in secret and keeping his queerness out of the spotlight, he took control of the narrative, going on every magazine cover he could, giving a face to a movement that had long stood in the shadows.
His CHA presidency was due in part to this political openness, as he was one of the only people willing and able to be as open about their sexuality as the position demanded. With the attitudes towards queer people in Argentina at the time, this made complete sense. Not only were there laws to discriminate against queer people in all their forms, but religious leaders went out of their way to do so as well. At one point, Carlos attempted to sue an Argentinian Archbishop for discrimination. The lawsuit was, unfortunately, a failure because queer people were not protected under discrimination laws at the time. While the hiding was completely understandable, it makes standing out in the open an even more incredible act, and it makes Carlos an even more memorable figure from our history. It is partly the reason why his legacy remains even today.
One of the most concrete examples of his legacy is the anti-discrimination clause prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the new Constitution of the City of Buenos Aires, something he strongly supported before his death. A week after he died, queer activists came to the Statute Convention holding photos of Carlos and pushing for the clause to be added to the Constitution. It was approved unanimously only days later.
Buenos Aires became the first Latin American City to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The day of his death, August 20, was later honoured as a National Day of Activism and Sexual Diversity. Among the most recent additions to his legacy is a subway station in Buenos Aires named after him. It contains a mural with his portrait along with other queer images and is the first ever underground station to be named after a queer activist.
For a man who lived a short life, there is still so much of his legacy left today. His memory can continue to be an inspiration to our current queer activists, as they find themselves again in the struggle to maintain queer people's basic human rights. The words of Carlos that accompany his mural seem to ring true still as they remind us:
“In a society that teaches us to shame, pride is a political response.”
[Disclaimer: Some of the sources may contain triggering material.]
Diverse Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Ciudad, 2 Oct. 2017, turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/en/article/diverse-buenos-aires.
CCA Glasgow. SQIFFQueer Revolution: Carlos Jáuregui - The Unforgettable Fag. Centre for Contemporary Arts, 29 Sept. 2017, www.cca-glasgow.com/programme/sqiff-queer-revolution-carlos-jauregui-the-unforgettable-fag.
Human Rights Awards. OutRight International Action, 11 Apr. 2016, www.outrightinternational.org/events/awards-2016.
Jackman, Josh. “The First Underground Station to Be Named after an LGBT Activist Looks Absolutely Beautiful.” PinkNews Argentina, PinkNews, 27 Mar. 2017, www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/03/27/the-first-underground-station-to-be-named-after-an-lgbt-activist-looks-absolutely-beautiful/.
Marshall, Terri. Buenos Aires Plays Its Gay Trump Card | TravelSquire. Travel Squire, 17 Apr. 2017, travelsquire.com/buenos-aires-plays-gay-trump-card/.
van Gorder, Bryan. “Buenos Aires Renames Subway Station After LGBT Activist.” LOGO News, Logo NewNowNext, 31 Mar. 2017, www.newnownext.com/buenos-aires-subway-carlos-jauregui/03/2017/.
McNamara, Jayson. 'Carlos Jáuregui Put His Face on Our Struggle'. BuenosAiresHerald.com, 17 Sept. 2014, www.buenosairesherald.com/article/169964/%C2%91carlos-j%C3%A1uregui-put-his-face-on-our-st.
Nanu, Maighna. “Buenos Aires Opens Renamed Subway Station Honoring LGBT Activist Carlos Jáuregui.” The Bubble, The Bubble, Inc., 20 Mar. 2017, www.thebubble.com/buenos-aires-opens-renamed-subway-station-honoring-lgbt-activist-carlos-jauregui/.