Traditional mariachi music is very…traditional. But this Pride Month, we’re celebrating a group of LGBTQ+ musicians breaking with the mold and giving this Mexican art form an inclusive modern twist.


Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles bills itself as the first LGBTQ+ mariachi group in the world! Bandleader Carlos Samaniego said, “I wanted to create a haven for people who identified as LGBT in the mariachi world to play the music we love… and not be talked down to.” 

Samaniego teamed up with Natalia Melendez, the first openly trans female mariachi. The pair met as teenagers in an after-school mariachi program. Mariachi Arcoiris was born out of Samaniego’s activism in college when he was involved with an LGBTQ+ group that was planning...

a mock gay Mexican wedding—including mariachi music—as part of a protest. Since then the group has evolved and served as a place for LGBTQ+ musicians to be respected for their art and culture, as well as their commitment to equality and visibility for LGBTQ+ people.