The Ball of La Laguna was an infamous cross‐dressing ball that ended in a police raid, media scandal, and public uproar on the night of January 31, 1959, in Lima, Peru. Hundreds of maricón (queer) couples attended the ball sporting masculine and feminine attire — unaware of the moral panic that would soon unfold across the city. How did class, race, and gender inequalities shape La Laguna? How did they shape heteronormative reactions to the ball? How can we understand the meanings of (homo)sexuality and cross‐dressing at the ball? This essay answers these questions by conducting a content analysis of five newspapers, two magazines, a cartoon, an invitation to the ball, a video advertisement, and three oral history interviews. The Ball of La Laguna reveals that the class, race, and gender inequalities that have structured Peruvian society since colonial times also structured maricón social worlds and the policing of their communities. All attendees experienced homophobic treatment in the aftermath of the ball, but Indigeneity, femininity, and a lower‐class status compounded these inequalities. La Laguna enables us to describe maricón social worlds in mid‐twentieth‐century Lima from an intersectional class, race, and gender perspective, which contributes to the growing literature on cross‐dressing practices in twentieth‐century Latin America and, more broadly, to the hemispheric turn in queer studies.
The Ball of La Laguna: Class, Race, and Gender in a Mid-Twentieth-Century Cross-Dressing Ball in Lima, Perú
Diego Galdo-González is a research master's student in the social sciences at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests lie at the intersection of sexual history, sexual cultures, and urban studies in Lima, Perú. He also works as a junior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and coordinates the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality.
Diego Galdo-González; The Ball of La Laguna: Class, Race, and Gender in a Mid-Twentieth-Century Cross-Dressing Ball in Lima, Perú. GLQ 1 June 2023; 29 (3): 353–385. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-10437236
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