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This gay soccer league in Mexico is kicking social norms to the curb

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Little distinguishes the Sunday soccer league that plays at La Organización de Futbol Rápido, a concrete court in the Azcapotzalco district of Mexico City from the dozens of others which meet any given day in the nation's capitol. Mostly men play fast-paced, dribbling-heavy futbol in small netted courts; sidewalk vendors sell orange juice and tacos; and pedestrians stop to watch the most competitive matches. But if you stop to speak with the players, you learn that the league is part of a revolution in LGBTQ rights happening in Mexico--all the players identify as gay or queer.

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One of the 14 teams of "Diversidad Gay"

"Diversidad Gay" is the first league of its kind, and members say it has changed their lives. "In this place we can be free, we can be with our friends and we can be part of a community," said Felipe Fuente, a player for Club Zorros. Here in the capitol, Mexico is gradually shaking its reputation as a country plagued by homophobia and machismo. Gay marriage is legal, gay couples can be seen kissing in public and gay clubs show their colors with pride.

Mexico City is gay friendly. I want people to come here--I want people to see.
Felipe Fuente

Rafael Martín Martínez, who manages the soccer court, started Diversidad Gay five years ago, expanding an already diverse roster of leagues. Women play at the court, as do youth teams. It took awhile for the neighborhood to accept LGBTQ individuals playing soccer in their backyard. "There were protests, balls would go missing, people on the street would shout slurs," said Martínez.

Today, other soccer leagues are inviting top teams from Diversidad Gay to play in exhibition matches. Those same have also represented Mexico in international LBGTQ competitions. This year 14 teams compete in Diversidad Gay. Players and organizers alike think that number will grow.

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