The Suave Latin Queer: Gonzálo “Tony” Segura (1919–91), Homophile Activism, and Latin America, 1955–61

Sunday, January 6, 2019: 11:20 AM
Crystal Room (Palmer House Hilton)
Víctor M. Macías-González, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
This paper explores the role of Cuban émigré activist Gonzálo “Tony” Segura (1919-1991) in ONE Magazine’s efforts to reach out to Latin American readers and to extend the work of ONE and Mattachine chapters across the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. Segura receded into obscurity after relocating with his lover to Virginia in 1961, where he subsequently organized gay pride observances in the 1970s. Segura mediated between homophile factions and his correspondence reveals the important role he played as a sexile, bicultural, bilingual person who bridged the racial, class, ethnic, regional, and national divides of the American homophile movement. His work reveals the transnational efforts of homophile groups and the importance of complex “queer loyalties” to activists’ success. Segura hailed from a prominent Spanish Cuban family and arrived in the U.S. in 1935 to study at Emory University. After graduating in 1942, he remained in the U.S., where he felt he could lead an easier life as a homosexual. He moved to New York, worked as a teacher, chemist, and advertising executive. After reading Donald Webster Cory’s The Homosexual in America (1951) in 1955, he contacted homophile groups in Los Angeles and Europe. He helped to found Mattachine New York, and had a strong relationship with ONE Magazine. Segura aided ONE’s distribution efforts in New York. He translated a number of articles and helped ONE in its business dealings in Mexico and Latin America. In the spring and summer of 1955, Segura encouraged ONE, Inc. to publish a Spanish-language edition in Mexico City. He reviewed Spanish-language publications and helped to recruit a community of Latino readers across the U.S. and Latin America. In 1959, Segura traveled to Mexico City to meet with publishers to increase ONE’s circulation there and to explore possibilities for other publishing ventures.