Voces en TintaA - Z
- Mexico, Sonora
- Contact Persons / Persons Involved:
- Bertha de la Maza
- Main Language Published:
Back in 2000, it was almost impossible to buy an LGBT book in Mexico, let alone find a specific author or title. Well, there was already one bookstore specialized in (non-LGBT) sexuality but it didn’t stock more than one or the other LGBT novel.
One possible solution to this problem was to import books from Spain and sell them online in Mexico. The online bookstores leslibros.com and gaylibros.com were launched.
But still, there were a few hurdles to overcome. One of the biggest was shipping the books from Spain to Mexico, or rather, clearing customs: the books were held on arrival until it had been clearly proven that they did NOT contain any pornographic content.
Another hurdle was that shoppers wanted book mailings to be discreet—i.e. in a plain brown envelope, with no sign of the online bookstore (so no-one would be able to tell the package contained LGBT books!). Another problem was the fact that quite a few buyers of course prefer to browse through a book before buying it—and there was no physical place for this, no bookstore. For a time the books were made available to buyers in a storeroom, but after some homophobic attacks it was decided not to continue with that. All of this culminated in 2005 in the decision to launch a retail distributor of foreign LGBT books to be sold in Mexico. And that is how Voces en Tinta was born.
Now, finally, the books could also be offered in large bookstores, which led to another problem: the prejudices of employees/ buyers towards anything that sounded like LGBT. For example, the largest bookstore chain in Mexico rejected books with the argument: »We do not sell books to fagots.« It was a real struggle to open spaces for the sale of LGBT books.
In 2006, Voces en Tinta expanded its distribution of LGBT books to include works by independent writers and publishers from Mexico and other Latin American countries, alongside those from Spain.
2009 was an important year, as Voces en Tinta became a cultural project, and a physical space that served as a bookstore, café, and cultural forum was opened in Mexico City's Zona Rosa. The main topics then (as now) included: gender, masculinity, gender diversity, human rights, and feminism. The Mexican LGBT community won/ created a cultural space dedicated to its needs: in short, a room of its own.
In 2010, partnerships were established with various organizations and institutions to promote and publicize the editorial work.
In 2012, the cultural project Voces en Tinta itself began publishing books.
In 2017, the publishing project and the bookstore parted ways. The publisher is still named Voces en Tinta while the bookstore, café, and cultural forum—which focus on promoting the cultural forum and expanding the café—operate under the name Somos Voces.
Voces en Tinta continues to give voice to the LGBT community—and hopefully will do so for many years to come.
- Content Focus:
The main topics of the publishing house are: gender diversity, gender, masculinity, feminism, and human rights.
The program includes literature, poetry, and nonfiction.
The format is books in print (not e-books).
- Organization and Decision-making Process:
The solo publisher works from home and has no employees. As a rule, only she herself is active; and sometimes her partner helps out.
There is a big demand for Voces en Tinta’s publications, as the publisher has a very good reputation. The authors turn to the publisher, not the other way round. However, there are not enough resources to publish them all.
Voces en Tinta’s books are stocked by specialized bookstores as well as in two major Mexican bookstore chains.
- Financing and Support:
Most of the finance comes from the publisher herself; the rest comes from the authors.
Money is far too short to make the leap into e-book publishing, to hire a person to take on marketing, to pay the graphic designers, or to attend book fairs and literary events.
No external funding is available.
- Conditions and Political Situation:
The protection of human rights in Mexico is virtually zero. Despite campaigns, events, and government and citizens' initiatives, discrimination has never really been successfully quashed. Mexico has a worrying rate of hate crimes.
In the period 2013–2018, an average of 79 persons belonging to the LGBT community were killed each year, which makes a monthly tally of 6.5 persons. 7 out of 10 people belonging to the LGBT community have felt discriminated against in public educational institutions. In addition, 5 out of 10 people have reported being victims of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. These data are from a report of March 2019 from the Victims Support Commission and the Arcoíris Foundation.
This situation leads the LGBT community to keep a low profile in Mexico and thus to books, too, remaining under wraps or »in the closet.«
It is foreseeable that if Voces en Tinta does not make the leap into digital publishing, it will find it impossible to continue its editorial work. Unlocking financial resources is therefore a matter of urgency, given the outlook for the LGBT community in Mexico today.