By Susan Harris
In honor of the Copa America final this weekend and the pride celebrations this month, we turn to Alberto Salcedo Ramos’s rollicking “Queens Football,” from our Queer issue of June 2014. The modifier refers to neither borough nor monarch, but to the name of an extraordinary Colombian soccer team, Las Regias, the Queens. With an all-transvestite roster, the team formed in 1992 to raise money for gay AIDS and drug addiction sufferers in Cali. When Ramos attends an exhibition, the pregame huddle is as profane as any in the NFL, but instead of discussing strategy the players are gossiping and tossing off increasingly vivid insults while performing their elaborate toilettes. Their uniforms include lacquered nails, thick make-up, and hair extensions, and they are dazzlingly incompetent (“they are always falling over, they kick the ball up in the air when they’re less than a foot from goal, they can’t control the ball on their chests, never mind with their feet, and they’re incapable of passing to a teammate a mere ten yards away”). Beneath the players’ campy posing and their giddy ineptitude, though, lies a sober message. Cali is one of the most dangerous cities for transvestites in Colombia. Marginalized within the already-vulnerable gay community, they live in constant fear of violence, and Las Regias has been able to bring their plight to wider audiences in this deceptively comic way. In the words of La Ñaña, their founder: “We take the insults society throws at us and we defuse them by making jokes of them.” Ramos observes that the spectators seem glad to accept this parody of masculine sport, but wonders, uneasily, if “perhaps, deep down, those watching prefer having Las Regias caged in here, like circus freaks, to seeing them out and about in the streets, mixing with the rest of society.” We suggest you mix with Las Regias and head over to their match: even if you don’t know a pitch from a punt, this is one team everyone can root for.
Image: Stadio Mario Rigamonti di Brescia, 2015. Wikimedia Commons.
Published Jun 24, 2016 Copyright 2016 Susan Harris