Reason, Number 154

I love Puerto Vallarta for hundreds of reasons, many of which I have poured out glowingly here. We “discovered” the town over 25 years ago, well before we were married, and have made it an annual pilgrimage, missing only the years of our wedding (too busy) and the year our daughter was born (too little.)

We brought her the next year, though, at 13 months old, and every year since then. Over the years it has been part of the tapestry of her childhood. Tortillas as a staple with any meal, a laid-back attitude toward time, negotiating with me on anything from allowance to curfew are all traits I attribute to hundreds of relaxed days around friends and family near our condo in Old Town.

Now 18, she has come to love Puerto Vallarta as passionately as we do for other reasons too. The warmth of its people and the kindness and acceptance they have shown us is an important reason we keep coming back. Last night I understood that again, in a beautifully tangible way.

In Old Town there is an open LGBT+ -friendly presence, and we find the drag shows some of the most entertaining evenings we have had. The talent is extraordinary; the comedy is slightly raunchy but not so much that I blanch with my kid next to me; the singing is very good; the audience is always enthusiastic. Last night we attended the hilarious Dueling Drag Divas. The variety of people in the small-ish room was wonderful – many of them friends of the fabulous performers, some artists themselves from other venues, there to honor and support their friends and co-workers in a tough field, some spring breakers, the parents of one of the performers, and us, two straight married couples and our 18 year old daughter. By any measure we were the ones that stood out, but by no means did we feel out of place. And that is what I loved. No one felt out of place.

Of course my darling daughter is pulled onstage at some point during the interactive portion of the performance, because that is what happens when you are adorable and 18. Somehow I got there too, as mommy; not quite as adorable, but coattails, you know. She has a magnetic stage presence from years of improv training and school musicals, and can certainly engage an audience, which she did, managing to hold her own next to the funny and friendly diva with a microphone. I mainly stood there proudly, trying to let her have the spotlight. A lot of laughs and a quick shot of tequila later (don’t judge, she’s over age!) and we were back in our seats for the rest of the show, exhilarated.

After the show two adorably enamored young men came up to her and told her she was their favorite audience part of the show. That she didn’t know how lucky she was to have such a supportive family because not everyone did. They told her their families did not approve of them. It made me so sad for them, and love this town so much – these impossibly gorgeous mid-westernly wholesome young men had found in Puerto Vallarta complete acceptance and welcome that their own families wouldn’t or couldn’t extend.

I didn’t need more reasons to love it here, but that room last night and its array of strangers and friends gave me another. They didn’t judge, they didn’t ask questions, they were there for each other in laughter and drag, one of the toughest kinds of comedy, essentially rooted in pain. Many of them might have been considered a little out of the ordinary or felt unaccepted where they came from but have found a home here. I think of the many people of PV who have reached out in welcome to me not knowing anything about me or my life or my story, and continue to do so no matter how the airport swells or the war of words rages. The list of reasons to love Puerto Vallarta grows each year. Lucky me.