Mexican icon Vicente Fernandez refused liver transplant, fearing gay donor

Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez performs during his concert on February 20, 2009 in Cali, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia.

Mexican singer and actor Vicente Fernandez said in a recent interview he refused a liver transplant fearing the donor was gay, or a drug addict, causing controversy.

The 79-year-old, who has sold more than 70 million records in his long career, made the statements while discussing his health on the Mexican TV show De Primera Mano on May 2, sparking an ongoing conversation about homophobia.

In the interview, Fernandez recalled receiving a liver cancer diagnosis while he was on tour in Houston, Texas. He then stopped the tour, but refused the doctor’s offer of a liver transplant as they had found a compatible donor.

Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez drinks aguardiente during his concert on February 20, 2009 in Colombia.

Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez drinks aguardiente during his concert on February 20, 2009 in Colombia. (Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty)

“I’m not going to sleep next to my wife with another dude’s liver.’” he said he told the doctors, adding: “I don’t know if he was gay or a drug addict.”

The interviewer reacted with laughter and did not press him further on the topic, simply letting him carry on. Fernandez said he left the hospital as soon as he could, but he eventually got surgery and he is now in good health.

What were the reactions to the remarks made by Vicente Fernandez?

Fernandez’s statements were reported across Latin America, causing an uproar. The president of the Mexican National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Conapred), Alexandra Haas, was also asked to comment on Fernandez’s words.

Haas, quoted in El Universal on Monday (May 13), condemned the remarks as lacking scientific basis and as “an expression of totally misplaced homophobia and a reflection of the ignorance of the person who expressed it.”

Social media users mocked Fernandez’s remarks showing various scenarios of what a “gay liver” would do to the singer.

A popular meme imagined Fernandez coming out of the “gay liver” transplant looking like RuPaul’s Drag Race star Valentina, who once rocked a mariachi look on the runway.

Fernandez’s son Vicente Fernandez Jr. released a statement defending his father from accusations of homophobia.

“My father did not say anything about being homophobic.”

— Vicente Fernandez Jr.

“My father did not say anything about being homophobic,” his son said, his statement reported in the Mexican newspaper El Universal on May 8. “The only thing he said is that he would never go to sleep with the liver of another [man].”

Fernandez Jr. also clarified elements of his father’s story. He said the cancer was diagnosed in 2012, but that there was no actual donor—the waiting list would have taken at least six to seven months.

He also said that he would have been a compatible liver donor, but that his father refused the transplant because he did not want him to suffer the potential health consequences of the donation.