Martine Gutierrez's "Demons" and the Queer Latinx Experience

Chin, Demon of Lust

Third in the Demons feature is Mayan deity Chin. The least known of all of those in the series, Chin is an obscure Mayan spirit thought to have encouraged homosexuality among Mayan society. According to myth, though such sexual behavior was considered taboo for many generations, Chin eventually appeared and popularized the behavior. As S. W. Miles’ “The Sixteenth-Century Pokom-Maya: A Documentary Analysis of Social Structure and Archaeological Setting” notes, “From that time on some fathers gave their sons a little boy to be used as a woman; and if someone else took the boy, they demanded pay as is done when someone violates another's wife.” Similarly pederastic relationships were also common in other ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome.

Chin’s eyes in the portrait are an unnatural yellow, highlighting the Spaniards' interpretation of Chin as a demon instead of a deity. Most knowledge surrounding Chin comes from Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish colonist turned Dominican friar who eventually became sympathetic to the plights of indigenous peoples in the Americas. Chin, when viewed from the European heteronormative viewpoint, was surely considered to be one of the worst gods in the Mayan pantheon. Chin could be considered the inspiration for the name of the Demons feature. Whether the Mayans thought of him as a benevolent deity or a demon is up to interpretation, as there is little to no evidence of their belief in him; his identity is completely constructed by outsiders who viewed all indigenous belief as sacrilege. Labelling the series “demons” is Gutierrez’s method of bringing to attention European views on indigenous religions and mythologies.

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