MEXICO CITY – A painting showing Mexican Revolution hero Emiliano Zapata nude and in an effeminate pose has drawn the ire of some of Zapata's descendants and led about 100 farmers to block the entrance to the building where it was on display Tuesday.
The painting depicts a nude Zapata wearing high heels and a pink, broad-brimmed hat, straddling a horse.
Zapata's grandson said Monday the painting should be removed or descendants would sue.
“We are not going to allow this," said Jorge Zapata Gonzalez. “For us as relatives, this denigrates the figure of our general (Zapata), depicting him as gay.”
About a dozen counterprotesters showed up to defend sexual diversity, and a scuffle broke out between the two groups.
The mustachioed Zapata is famous for leading farmers demanding land rights in the 1910-17 revolution.
“This isn't freedom of expression, it is debauchery ... that is degrading. They can't exhibit our history that way,” said Antonio Medrano, spokesman for the protesters. They demanded the government respect Mexican history's “great icons.”
“They can't permit this kind of mockery,” Medrano said.
Luis Vargas, curator of the exhibit, noted that the controversy had brought in a lot of visitors. He said a painting is just an artistic representation and said he thinks it's positive that are reopens debates about continuing issues in Mexican society like homosexuality.
The work by Fabian Chairez is part of an exhibit about Zapata in one of Mexico City's premiere arts venues, the Fine Arts Palace.
The artist told local media the painting is not labelled as a portrait of Zapata, who is normally represented in a more macho pose, with a rifle or pistol, and an ammunition belt.