Television astrologer Walter Mercado, whose glamorous persona made him a star in Latin media and a cherished icon for gay people in most of the Spanish-speaking world, has died. He was 88.
Mercado was known throughout Latin American for the melodrama of his daily horoscopes, delivered on internationally broadcast networks such as Univision with an exaggerated trilling of the “r”. He favored colorful brocaded capes and huge gemstone rings, which he flashed while pointing at viewers.
Mercado never publicly discussed his sexual orientation but his screen presence was a source of comfort for many people in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities throughout Latin American and Latin communities in the U.S., said Alex Fumero, a Los Angeles-based producer who has spent two years working on a documentary about him.
“This is a culture that’s been dominated by machismo and homophobia for a very long time,” Fumero said in a phone interview. “He was really brave.”
Fumero said Mercado’s silence on his orientation may have allowed him to keep the adoration of LGBTQ fans and maintain acceptance from conservative Latins who could have rejected an openly gay television star. Fumero said one LGBTQ activist told him, “You don’t ask about what you can see,” adding that he believes that was the attitude held by many from Mercado’s generation.