A couple of weeks ago Juan Gabriel, a Mexican singer better know as Juanga, passed away. He was one of the best known, best selling, most flamboyant Mexican singers. Mariachis sang his songs. And practically everybody in Mexico knew at least part of the lyrics of some of those songs.
Now, to be honest, I was never a big fan. But when his remains were brought to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, in Mexico City, for people to pay their last respects, we couldn't resist and went there to witness hundreds of thousands of Mexicans celebrating – not mourning – their beloved artist. There was lots of singing, lots of dancing. Quite a spectacle!
One interesting aspect about Juanga was that it was generally assumed he was gay. He never ever admitted to it, though. He even got married and fathered four children. When asked whether he was gay, he would answer with another question, never saing "no", but never answering "yes". Having grown in a homophobic and macho society, this comes as no surprise. But then again, one must respect a person's privacy, and if he never identified as gay, then we might as well just not identify him as such?
Whatever the gossiping about his personal life, his artistic one definitely left a legacy, and countless people sure made that clear during the couple of days his remains were at Palacio. And I can say that, two weeks on, I still have a couple of his songs as earworms with me – one of the consequences of living so close to all the action, eh?