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Michael Snyder

Michael Snyder is a freelance journalist and associate editor for Roads & Kingdoms, based out of Mexico City. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Lucky Peach, the Believer, Slate, and Scientific American, among others.



Spring 2018 | Essays

The weekend of El Grito (the Scream), when Mexico celebrates its rebel yell against Spain, is also the weekend when the season’s first pilgrims arrive in the town of Real de Catorce, high on a sun-blitzed mountaintop in the deserts of San Luis Potosí, and the weekend when 300 gay cowboys convene there to choose their Cowboy King, the Rey Vaquero de Real. José Sotelo, California’s 2016 Rey Vaquero, arrives on the second day of the party, a black-and-gold sash draped over his shoulders to match his black beard, black mirrored aviators, black-and-gold Tejano, and the two golden halves of a heart—one inscribed with his name, the other with his partner’s—nestled in a shrub of black chest hair.

He wades into a sea of cowboy hats, kissing cheeks and chatting with men he sees a couple times a year at one of the dozen other conventions held annually in Tijuana, Juarez, Vegas, and Zacatecas, where he met his soon-to-be husband two years ago. “My grandparents were farmers, but I moved to the city when I was an adolescent. I miss that life,” he tells me, meaning the wild life of the countryside. “I identify with that life—and with this community. These guys are from cities, but they identify with it, too, with the past that they don’t get to live anymore.”

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