LGBTQ band Mariachi Arcoiris partners with Estrella Jalisco to increase inclusivity

Mariachi Arcoiris, the world’s first LGBTQ mariachi band, has partnered with Estrella Jalisco beer to encourage open conversations about machismo culture, inclusivity, and identity.

The company says it embraces contemporary culture and change, while valuing and maintaining important traditions. This dynamic is mirrored in many Mexican-American families and communities across the county, and Estrella Jalisco wants Mariachi Arcoiris, which also is known as Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, to help bridge the two worlds.

“Progressive values are often at odds with more traditional views — particularly when it comes to gender identity and sexual orientation,” Carlos Samaniego, founder and director of the Los Angeles based Mariachi Arcoiris, said in a statement about the partnership.

“We couldn’t be more proud to partner with Estrella Jalisco, a brand that shares in our commitment to inclusivity,” Samaniego said.

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Estrella Jalisco partnership

As part of the partnership, Estrella Jalisco has offered five Mariachi Arcoiris fans a chance to win a free performance at their home from the band in June, which is designated Pride Month. Fans can enter the contest by commenting on Estrella Jalisco’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram channels with a song they think needs a mariachi cover.

According to a GenForward Survey Project at the University of Chicago, more than one in five Latinx millennials identify as LGBTQ, more than any other ethnicity group; however, 61 percent of Latinx millennials polled said “a lot” of LGBTQ discrimination exists in their community.

Mariachi Arcoiris beginnings

The band’s founding members, Samaniego and Natalia Melendez, started the band in college about 25 years ago after seeing discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Melendez also bills herself as the first transgender female in the history of mariachis.

Melendez and Samaniego met as teenagers in an after-school mariachi band. Samaniego, who came out in college, had the idea to start an all-gay mariachi band while planning a same-sex mock wedding for a campus LGBTQ activist group. Samaniego knew a true Mexican wedding wouldn’t be complete without a mariachi.

Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, the world’s first queer mariachi band

The band played some shows, but eventually disbanded. The band regrouped in 2014 and added the rainbow colored accents to their wardrobe.

“Mariachi Arcoiris was founded as a way to create a safe space for professional LGBTQ musicians to honor their traditions, authentic selves and play great music,” Samaniego said. “We hope to inspire all generations to appreciate the beauty of this traditional music — and open the eyes of many to the artistry of this group of LGBTQ individuals.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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