31.8.06

ΟΙ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΟΙ ΤΟΥ ΕΛ ΣΑΛΒΑΔΟΡ ΔΙΝΟΥΝ ΤΟΝ ΔΙΚΟ ΤΟΥΣ ΑΓΩΝΑ

“Lucha por el amor y la vida”: las bodas gay
Redacción Raíces (26-6-2006)
Mientras la Asamblea Legislativa analiza cambios constitucionales para impedir los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo, políticos y miembros de organizaciones defensoras de los derechos “gay” se activan para sostener sus posiciones.
Bajo la lluvia -y con el atractivo del vibrante encuentro de fútbol entre Argentina y México-, cientos de homosexuales, lesbianas, travestís y simpatizantes, realizaron una colorida y artística protesta por las calles de San Salvador, exigiendo el respeto a sus derechos.
El desfile anual del “Orgullo gay” no solo se realizó por las atestadas calles de la capital salvadoreña, también se realizó en París, Nueva York, San Francisco y otras ciudades del mundo.
El rechazo a la discriminación social y la urgente petición para que se respeten sus derechos fueron oídos y observados por miles de salvadoreños que por diversas razones se movilizaban por San Salvador en una tarde lluviosa de sábado.
Trajes de fantasía, como para un carnaval, pequeñas prendas para atraer, fueron utilizados por los manifestantes que en medio de una algarabía exigieron oportunidades laborales con salarios justos y educación, previo a que también se les apruebe el matrimonio.
Αunque también demandaron mayor atención a los infectados con SIDA y a los contagiados con el virus del VIH.
La comunidad gay ha solicitado a la Asamblea Legislativa que no ratifique una reforma constitucional, aprobada en abril, para especificar en el texto de la Carta Magna que el matrimonio sólo es permitido entre un hombre y una mujer.
La reforma puede entrar en vigor si es ratificada por la actual legislatura, con mayoría calificada de 56 votos de los 84 diputados. Y parece que el FMLN, con sus 30 escaños, no está totalmente convencido de levantar sus manos para la ratificación, pese a la notable actividad del diputado y secretario general del PDC, Rodolfo Parker, a favor de la medida.
Campaña del PDC por reformar constitución
Parker reunió a decenas de miembros del PDC para informarles del inicio de una campaña en la que esperan el apoyo de diferentes iglesias cristianas en el país a favor de la enmienda, con el fin de “proteger los valores dentro de la familia”.
Pero William Hernández, de la organización “Entre amigos”, dijo que la enmienda es “una forma de desconocer que los homosexuales existimos en este país”.
En América Latina, países como Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica y El Salvador, «han adoptado medidas legales y jurisprudenciales para evitar que produzcan efectos en su territorio los ‘matrimonios homosexuales’ celebrados en otros países».

30.8.06

ΜΙΑ ΦΥΛΑΚΗ ΓΙΑ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΟΥΣ ΠΟΥ ΟΝΟΜΑΖΕΤΑΙ ΟΝΔΟΥΡΕΣ

En Honduras los Gays y Lesbianas viven como en una prisión
Miles de personas lesbianas, gay, bisexuales y transgénero de Honduras sufren a diario discriminación y agresiones. La mayoría de estas personas se sienten demasiado atemorizadas para denunciarlo. Lo peor es que parte de las agresiones vienen de los lideres de las iglesias predominantes en el pais: la catolica y evangélica
Ericka (antes Eric) David Yáñez fue asesinada en las calles de San Pedro Sula, Honduras, por dos agentes de policía el 15 de julio de 2003.
Elkyn Suárez, activista transgénero, poseía información muy valiosa sobre el homicidio de Ericka y la comunicó a las autoridades. En septiembre de 2003 se vio obligada a abandonar el país tras recibir amenazas de muerte.
Elkyn reside ahora en un país europeo que le ha concedido asilo. Como parte de su proceso de afirmación de su identidad sexual, ha iniciado los trámites legales necesarios para obtener el reconocimiento oficial de un nombre nuevo.
La Comunidad Gay Sampedrana nació en 1993 desarrollando actividades de prevención del VIH/sida en la ciudad hondureña de San Pedro Sula. Con frecuencia, las personas pertenecientes a esta organización se veían obligadas a ocultar su trabajo de promoción y defensa de los derechos humanos de las minorías sexuales. Su campo de acción era muy limitado porque las autoridades se negaban a otorgarles la personería jurídica, reconocimiento oficial que necesitaban para desarrollar sus actividades abiertamente. Recientemente, el gobierno ha reconocido oficialmente a la organización.
Esta decisión ha sido condenada enérgicamente por algunos sectores que consideran que las personas lesbianas, gay, bisexuales y transgénero que defienden sus derechos constituyen un peligro para la sociedad y siguen discriminándolas e ignorando la labor positiva que desarrollan en materia de defensa de los derechos humanos. El gobierno debería permanecer firme en su decisión, basada en la ley y el respeto a todas las personas.
Elkyn Suárez afirma: "En el año 2000 la comunidad gay decidió que el trabajo no debía hacerse solo por HIV/SIDA sino por el alto índice de violaciones de derechos humanos a manos del gobierno. El índice de violaciones de derechos humanos aumentó cuando en 2003 el Congreso Nacional de la República de Honduras aprobó la ley de ‘policía y convivencia ciudadana’, que otorga mayor poder a la policía."
"El gobierno justificó la ley diciendo que es para preservar la moral y las buenas costumbres, pero cuando se habla de moral y buenas costumbres, el gobierno excluye totalmente de la sociedad a las minorías sexuales. Ahí es cuando empiezan con mucha más fuerza los despidos de las personas identificadas como gays y transgéneros, las limitaciones a la educación, las detenciones, los ataques, la violencia, y los asesinatos múltiples."
Elkyn Suárez dice que la sociedad hondureña se opone a esta ley pero que la gente tiene temor de expresar su opinión públicamente. "En Honduras el poder político y el poder que tiene la policía es tan grande que tu voz hasta ahí llega; no es que te van a encarcelar, sino que te quitan el derecho a la vida."
Elkyn se describe como una promotora de la defensa de los derechos humanos que, junto con otras personas de la comunidad lesbiana, gay, bisexual y transgénero se han enfrentado a crecientes restricciones a sus propios derechos en el curso de su labor en materia de derechos humanos. Dice que ha habido numerosas detenciones y actos de intimidación y que la comunidad de personas lesbianas, gay, bisexuales y transgénero se ve constantemente aislada y excluida del programa de derechos humanos que promueve el gobierno.
"Yo personalmente fui arrestada muchísimas veces, amenazada muchísimas veces. El temor era grande, pero la necesidad de hablar, la necesidad de dejar de sufrir, de dejar de ver tantas muertes día a día, porque cada día era ver dos o tres chicas o chicos gay asesinados, mientras las autoridades decían que eso tenía que pasar porque nosotros no teníamos derecho a vivir en nuestro país por nuestras formas de vida que habíamos escogido vivir."
Elkyn acusa al gobierno de negarse a reconocer las violaciones de derechos humanos contra personas pertenecientes a esta comunidad. "Existe para nosotros la violación, existe para nosotros el asesinado, existe para nuestros amigos los múltiples asesinatos y para nuestra familia, pero para el gobierno eso nunca ha existido. Se incluye en la noticia el asesinato de una chica transexual o de un chico transgénero, eso influye el periodismo, pero cuando ya estamos en la lucha, es constantemente aislante, la comunicación y la noticia."
Elkyn considera que el papel de las organizaciones internacionales y de la comunidad internacional en general es el de escuchar. Dice que, aunque su comunidad ha continuado luchando sin recibir una respuesta positiva, alguien debe ser consciente de lo que ha pasado. "Hay que hablar, porque eso sí cuenta. Antes era más ingenua de todo lo que ocurría a mi alrededor y ahora me di cuenta de que cuando alguien habla las cosas cambian muchísimo."
Elkyn escribió una carta al presidente de Honduras con motivo del aniversario del asesinato de Ericka para pedir justicia y pidió, sobre todo, que se dejara de excluir a las minorías sexuales de la sociedad hondureña.
"Somos parte de la sociedad hondureña y no exigimos trato especial, sino simplemente los derechos que nos otorga la misma Constitución de la República: derecho a no ser discriminados, a la educación. Yo soy el ejemplo más vivo del daño inmenso que el gobierno de Honduras hace a una parte de la población porque yo desde los 10 años que decidí hacer mi vida a mi manera, a como yo tengo derecho, a como que me tienen que respetar. Jamás pude tener un trabajo digno, jamás pude tener una educación, jamás tuve el derecho primordial de un hogar, de una familia, a un ambiente que como todos lo pueden tener. Y eso están viviendo muchos ciudadanos y ciudadanas en mi país, lo cual no es justo, y eso tiene que terminar."
Elkyn señala que, si pudiera reunirse con el presidente de Honduras, se trataría del día más importante de su vida. "Yo le haría esta pregunta: Si yo fuera su hija, ¿en qué situación estaría? ¿Él estaría de acuerdo en que a mí no me dejaran estudiar nunca, en que no me dejaran educarme, no me dejaran trabajar?¿Estaría de acuerdo y alegre con lo que la policía pudiera hacer con mi vida, que la policía pudiera quitarme la vida? Esa pregunta le haría."
A Elkyn Suárez le gustaría que Honduras se transformara en un país libre de limitaciones, un país con el mismo sistema educativo, el mismo servicio de salud y el mismo sistema jurídico para todas las personas. Un país cuyas leyes no excluyan ni a ricos ni a pobres ni a las minorías sexuales, un país en el que todas las personas reciban un trato igualitario, especialmente en lo referente a la legislación y a la actuación de la policía.
"Y que se nos dé la oportunidad de hablar y de escuchar y de ser escuchados y escuchadas. Hay que trabajar muchísimo que como cualquier otra organización, la comunidad gay es una más de esas organizaciones que trabajan por el derecho a la vida, el derecho a la salud, el derecho a la educación, a ser libres. Así como el gobierno otorga en sus leyes la libertad para muchos, a nosotros nos encierra en una prisión, porque esa es la vida que viven los ciudadanos y ciudadanas en Honduras, como en una prisión.

29.8.06

ΟΙ ΛΑΪΚΕΣ ΑΝΤΙΛΗΨΕΙΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΚΕΝΤΡΙΚΗ ΑΜΕΡΙΚΗ ΣΧΕΤΙΚΑ ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΑΝΔΡΙΚΗ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΙΑ

Submitting or Resisting: Exploring the Popular Central American Belief that Homosexuality Can Be Induced
Marlon I. Morales
University of California, Los Angeles
There is a popularly held notion in the rural areas of some Central American nations that a man can be ruined sexually. He can be made a homosexual by submitting to anal intercourse. This popular belief is a result of many sociocultural factors including geography, politics, economics and religion. Here an overview of the notion in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua is presented. These three Central American nations share common characteristics that make it possible to generalize in some ways about them. Homosexuals are explored in urban and countryside regions of these contemporary Latin American communities. Particular emphasis is placed on analysis of popular beliefs about homosexuality and homosexuals and the function of such beliefs.
INTRODUCTION
Despite what is believed to be a pervasive homophobia among Latin American people, the topic of homosexuality is alluring in many social settings. Perhaps women, more openly than men, are likely to discuss the topic. Given the right conditions, however, the subject of homosexuality is discussed by both men and women equally. If media is any indicator of public interest, then Spanish language programming like Christina and Primer Impacto reflect an attraction toward the discussion of homosexuals for these programs often have the topic on their agendas. Discussion of homosexuality, however, occurs with family and friends more often. Discussing homosexuality with some members of my Salvadoran family some time ago, I recall a confident theory of the “making” of a homosexual. Some Latin American Communities in Central America believe that homosexuals can be made. Men can lose their virility and actually be made into homosexuals. One often hears the typical phrase “No nacen, se hacen.” Is it possible for a heterosexual male to become homosexual or develop a homosexual interest? Many Central American Communities support the idea. Men are said to lose virility and be made homosexuals by submitting to anal intercourse. There are different ways in which males may lose virility. Some males chose to submit to anal penetration and so become homosexuals by choice. Other males are forced into anal penetration against their will. Knowledge that a man can lose virility gives rise to a system of ritual resistance to homosexual influences and encounters that could make males receptive. Such a system is interwoven into the standards of virility established by local communities. Whether forced or chosen, the process of inducing homosexuality is indicative of an aberration. Virility must never be taken from a man and a man must never willfully surrender his virility. As a result of analyzing reasons for notions of homosexuality, this paper will clarify how sociocultural conditions have assisted in shaping the development of the common notion of influenced homosexuality. I propose to explore the social origins of this popular belief that a male can be made to become homosexual in the nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua because of what are clear common similarities between these nations.
METHODS AND ALIGNMENT
Before proceeding, it is important to clarify both the methods used to develop this paper and some terminology about homosexuality. Some writing attempts to be strictly based on the ethnographer’s field notes and data. Such writing is called ethnographic. Other writing is purely based on analysis of previous work and so is called ethnological. This paper is not strictly ethnographic and also not strictly ethnological. This paper may be called indirect ethnographic work for certain limitations prevent this text from being called ethnographic. My space as an ethnographer remained static. I did not travel to Central America. I did, however, seek information from direct sources. As a result, my observations comprise both analysis of previous texts and analysis of data compiled from local informants. My direct sources included Central American immigrants living in Los Angeles. Most but not all of my informants are recent immigrants whom I met through family members. My informants consisted of five Salvadoran men, one Guatemalan man, one man from Yucatan and a North American woman who had spent time in El Salvador during the civil war.When speaking of the issue of homosexuality in Central America, this paper addresses men only. The word homosexual indicates male experiences. The words bisexual and transgender, aside from being irrelevant to many Central American communities, do not fall into the mode of analysis used here. Bisexuality is not perceived as a real condition in Central American communities. Simply stated, there are men and then there are those who are fucked or get fucked by men. There are no interim sexual states. Throughout Latin America, one notices the strict division. It may be argued as Lancaster (1988) does that a man, whom he labeled the hombre-hombre gains esteem of his peers by including men in his sexual experience repertoire. Even so, no amount of masculine expression will protect him from the stigma associated with homosexuals. To get away with sleeping with men he must be a well established partner of women. Even then he is not bisexual. Bisexuality is a North American concept, as is transgenderedness. In North America, transgenderedness is understood as a medical condition. Transgendered people experience a psychological condition in which they feel gender mismatch. Presently this condition is treated by gender reassignment surgery (DSM-IV American Psychiatric Association 1994). North Americans understand transsexualism as unrelated to the experience of being a homosexual or bisexual male. In Central America, however, transgenderedness and transvestitism are all associated with homosexual males. As residuals, such feminine inclinations constitute part of the expected pathology of homosexuals.
HISTORICAL SETTING AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CONTEMPORARY CENTRAL AMERICAN IDEOLOGY ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY
Exactly when Homo sapiens entered the Americas is not clearly known. We do know that the hemisphere has been inhabited for some 15, 000 years (Weaver 1993: 7). Mesoamerica is considered a region because its people share important cultural similarities which historically include “stone cities, highways, ceremonial pyramids, advanced agricultural and hydraulic systems, considerable social stratification, elaborate communication systems, and a very sophisticated calendar” (Taylor 1995: 81). While we have seen great states develop in the central valley of Mexico, the Maya sphere presents a different scenario. Below the Isthmus of Tehuantepec social organizations that developed are identified as Maya chiefdoms which at times, as in the Yucatan, formed federations. In addition to all the commonalties of Mesoamerica, these Maya communities were very influential during their classic periods. Maya lowlands and highlands developed complex market systems for the exchange of precious stones, feathers and other goods. In all of Mesoamerica, same sex erotic behavior was present before the arrival of the Spanish. Mesoamerican same sex erotic behavior prior to Spanish influence, however, cannot with certainty be called homosexual behavior because so little is known about it. We carefully assume that such behavior served a ritual purpose. It may have been reserved for special days of the calendar. It may have been codified to insure proper expression. Unfortunately all of this is speculation because “most information on homosexuality, its meaning and social structure either went unrecorded, or was lost, destroyed, distorted or suppressed” (Taylor 1995: 80). Most importantly we can surmise that same sex erotic behavior was very important in the theology of Mesoamerica. Their theology of duality consisted of expressing the nature of the divinities who created the world in terms of power embodied in a male-female force. According to some codices, same sex erotic behavior outside of liturgical time and environment was not acceptable. Such an attitude was especially true in the last civilization to develop in Central Mexico, the Aztec State. Even though the Aztecs paralleled the Spanish in strictness about same sex erotic behavior, they had little influence over the Maya sphere. At the time of the Spanish arrival, the Maya sphere was much more liberal about same sex eroticism (Taylor 1995: 84). The Maya sphere was in decline at that time. The great chiefdoms had long since passed into history. As a result there was weak, if any, legislation of homosexual behavior. Presently, this parallels an unspoken skeptical toleration of homosexuals in some parts of Central America.
SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLICISM
When Spanish and native Mesoamerican cultures met, a cultural syncretism took root. Just as some native Mesoamericans, like the Aztecs to the north, interpreted same sex eroticism strictly, the Spanish also interpreted homosexuality strictly. Unlike Mesoamericans, Spanish culture found acceptable what they understood as homosexuality regardless of time and place.Spanish priests and military quickly recognized that the people of Mesoamerica were prone to what they called sodomy. The Spanish records narrate the homoerotic tendencies of these middle American people. In the Maya sphere homosexuality appears to have been very common; not only seen, but recorded on stone sculpture (Taylor 1995: 84). What the Spanish called sodomy, expressed not only anal intercourse but also all other forms of sexual intercourse unsanctioned by some arbitrary authority (Keen 1971 in Taylor 1995: 84). The kind of Catholicism that took root in Central America was very homophobic. Spanish Roman Catholicism was more strict than Catholicism elsewhere. This is evident in its literal interpretation of sacred scripture. The penal code after the Latteran council of 1179 called for a prison term for what it called, acts of degradation such as homosexuality. In Spain, however, the code published was expanded to include castration and stoning (Taylor 1995: 87). Same sex male sexual expression was labeled weak. The Spanish concept of male virility facilitated the development a system of machismo . Despite a recent radical movement, present Roman Catholicism in Latin America is still conservatively influencing attitudes about homosexuality. The influence is wielded by a male hierarchy which is reacting to the period of civil war and liberation theology by taking a theological position that refocuses on attaining or maintaining power. Congregation documents like Raztinger’s 1986 Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons are rigorously interpreted. Even Pope John Paul II in a recent pastoral letter to the Latin American bishops admonished them to see homosexuality as a danger to the family and the community in Latin America (October 14, 1997).The influence of other Christian communities must not be overlooked. The countries of Central America are only about 90% Catholic. Protestant forms of Christianity are no better than Catholic hierarchical thought when it comes to homosexuality. In fact, Protestant Christianity is more zealous and militant in its approach to riding the lands of Latin America of homosexuals.Religion is so embedded in the people’s life experience that any attempts at tolerance are outweighed by the damage of years of intolerance. Both the ancient reservation and the modern theologies have developed a system of patriarchy that maintains men and the beliefs about men’s behavior as central to Latin America. For Central America homosexuality is a weak state that is rejected by established ideology.
EL AMBIENTE
Both the physical and social environment for homosexuals reflects political and economic realities of the nations of El Salvador , Guatemala and Nicaragua. Male homosexual behavior is not expected to be publicly seen. Community standards differ. Rural environments certainly do not have spaces where homosexuality is public. Urban environments are more tolerant, yet still do not fully accept public homosexual expression. The three nations of Central America are different in their approach to homosexuals. All but Nicaragua are somewhat tolerant. Nicaragua’s conservative government has established public laws against homosexuals.Space for homosexuals in Central America is limited. There are not many places for males to socialize. The spaces that exist reflect the general underground nature of homosexuality. Cruising spaces, for example, are found in the city plazas and in and around temple ruins. Bars, dance clubs and restaurants that cater to homosexuals are limited to urban areas. In all three nations, “gay ” clubs and bars are located in upscale locales (personal communication). These places have a more North American atmosphere and clientele yet are out of reach of many homosexuals. Rural people have no space that caters to homosexuals.Since there are no places that rural people openly designate as “gay” or homosexual, it is possible that homosexual myths about desolate areas such as empty fields or ruins develop. Popular notions about homosexuality are shaped by stories of probable homosexual encounters that are rumored to occur at such places.
POLITICS AND THE ECONOMY
The small nations of Central America share a common history of outside intervention in both economy and politics. Capitalist imperialism ravaged the nations of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Various foreign enterprises such as the American Fruit company and oil companies have exploited the region. Foreign interests assisted in the development of an oligarchy in these regions.The consequence has been the development of generally stratified societies in which oligarchies control property and profits while the poor and less educated remain marginalized. Education and poverty of the masses is a factor in the development of popular beliefs. Low levels of education and poverty, both caused by stratification, adversely affect attitudes about homosexuals (Bonilla 1990:444).Land reform as an attempt to establish egalitarian societies in these three nations led to bloody civil wars from the 50’s through the 80’s. Oligarchies opposed land reform with the support of United States interests. Guerrilla warfare in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala ravaged these nations and their people. Historically, both militarily controlled democracies and leftist counter movements have both seen homosexuals as a threat to social order. Civil war put a hold on industrialization and social progress in order to deal with domestic instability. Industrialization is a recent development which primarily affects urban areas. There are still many who depend on agriculture for subsistence and who live in small rural communities.Homosexual social organization in Central America very closely parallels the stratification of their societies. Homosexuals in the cities have more resources than those in the countryside. Homosexuals in the oligarchy have better resources than homosexuals in the peasant or Indian communities. Participation in the national economic and political system depends on how much privilege one has been born into or attained. People who are not in the oligarchy are not privy to such access.There are no dichotomized economic or political subsystems in these Central American nations because of homosexuality. Homosexuals are part of the economy and participate in the political system. Homosexuals, however, are more dependent on the market than are other groups. The stigma of being identified as a homosexual could endanger one’s livelihood. So homosexuals make an effort to blend in and not stand out. Some homosexuals find they have roles or careers reserved for them. It is understood that some occupations are appropriate for homosexuals (Murray 1995: 71). Such occupations as hair dressers, secretaries, academics or members of the ordained ministry are appropriate. The appearance of “career homosexuals” is aligned with development of its cities. Urban tolerance has resulted in a relocation of homosexuals from the rural areas. Silence still remains the norm; the homosexual should not identify as a homosexual even if he is in a homosexual occupation.Given the stratified nature of society, children of the privileged classes who are homosexual have more liberty. Elite homosexuals have the capital to secure space (puterias ), but also partners without fear. Homosexual expression in Central America parallels the kinds of ethnic and social tensions that exist in these nations. In the countryside, searching for sexual partners is a difficult thing that is done under veils of secrecy hence the air of suspicion around homosexuals.
ETHNICITY AND SOCIAL CLASS
The three nations of central America that comprise the focus of this paper have unique characteristics. Despite common geographic and historical traits, these nations are independent and have particular cultures. Central America is just a term used to identify a region on a map. Latin America is not homogenous. There is great diversity in Latin America. There is no one common culture. Guatemala, for example, has the largest population of native people. In addition to Spanish, native Mayan languages are spoken there. There is cultural tension between the Indios and the Ladinos in some parts like Guatemala, just as there is tension between Circum Caribbean Afro Americans and Ladinos in Nicaragua. El Salvador and Nicaragua have native Maya but not many. Generally, cultural tensions in Central America can be reduced to tension between Ladinos (or Latinos) and those who are not.Stratification along the lines of ethnic and social class is very much a part of these nations. In Guatemala there are basically two groups of people: Indio and the Ladino. Indios are the natives and Ladinos are the equivalent of Mesztizo label. In El Salvador there is a sector of the population that can be considered the oligarchy. Traditionally called the escalon, it is composed of the more phenotipically European people. Indios and others are increasingly becoming part of the escalon especially by gaining privilege through military service. Nicaragua has a similarly stratified culture. In Nicaragua one can find Caribbean blacks since historically this area has been part of the Circum Caribbean African American Diaspora. Power is held by those who are in the upper strata of an escalon, for example. The browner people, those not phenotipically European have little position or influence.Harris and Wagley (1956) present a typology of Latin American communities. They propose a division into nine groups. Tribal Indians, modern Indians, peasants, engenho plantation and usina plantation, townspeople, metropolitan upper class, metropolitan middle class and urban proletariat. For the discussion of submitting and resisting, this paper will deal with only the townspeople. More specifically it will deal with peasant communities. Peasants being the “horticultural people of Latin America (and frequently the lower classes of small towns)” (Harris and Wagley 37).
HOMOSEXUALITY
What behavior constitutes a homosexual? “Who do you sleep with?” said one of my informants. The answer was rhetorical and made sense instantly. Homosexuals are those who sleep with other men. Homosexuality is associated with sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse will always be a topic in any discussion of homosexuality. For the purposes of this paper the following story will introduce the popular assumptions associated with homosexuals.
QUEDO ARRUINADO : A story of submission
La finca is the land that is worked. Las fincas are beautiful; crops as far as the eye can see. There the crops grow and at the proper time in the year, the crops are harvested. The story is told of a young man who left his home with his friend and other men to work the harvest season for the first time. [The boy’s name is not important. The boy’s name changes frequently as the story is told again and again]. Now, then, men have needs, very strong needs. Somehow men must relive themselves in the absence of women. One of the older men in the fincas fue un listo . He knew the young man had entered the age of needs. He fooled the young man into going with him into the fields. The older man promised to teach the boy how to be a real man; how to relieve himself like a man. In the fields one night the man took the boy. Se lo cojio . Fue un listo, un bandido . El [the boy] quedo arruinado. The boy would never be the same. What happened to the boy? He went on to become a cubiche . This story is told as a tragedy of youth. The story is told in an admonishing voice strongly urging the listener never to be fooled by such temptation. Never allow yourself to be penetrated by another man. Men have nothing to offer other men. This story is just one example of tales that form part of the rural lore in El Salvador. The tale provides an insight into the beliefs of people in the countryside. In the story we see how the boy became different. He lost his virility. He became a homosexual. There are similar stories in different parts of Central America. Some common sayings are more like anecdotes. There are various ways to admonish youth.El arrunido is a young man who has submitted to anal sex. He is never again the same. Some quality about him has changed. This parallels the virginal status of woman who are defiled if they have sex prior to marriage. The implication is that anal sex is quite dangerous. Like a drug it is addictive. Also implied is the sexual pleasure that is associated with anal sex. Why would such danger be associated with anal sex?
LINGUISTICS
While anal intercourse is understood to be the definitive identifier of a homosexual, there are other secondary features. If we explore methods of communication, a clear understanding of what and why it is important to maintain virility develops.Lancaster (1988) in “Subject Honor, Subject Shame” introduced what he calls the folk notion of the cochon. The cochon is a construction of what the homosexual is in Nicaragua. In El Salvador and Guatemala there are also words that carry the same folk construction as Lancaster observed in Nicaragua. Hueco is used in Guatemala and cubiche is used in El Salvador. Cochon , hueco and cubiche all indicate an effeminate quality in men. These words are not exclusive to the individual nations, but are shared among the regions.These terms reinforce the notion that the homosexual is all that is contrary to the virile male. The way in which males communicate the knowledge of who homosexuals are is expressed in many verbal and non verbal communications. Masculinity is often over stylized. Men are expected to sit with legs spread to indicate potency, for example. Behavior that strays from masculine behaviors communicate homosexuality and make a man susceptible to stigma.Popular words for homosexuals are “less derogatory,” as my informants have told me, than are others. It is more derogatory to use the words joto, maricon or puto. In cultures that are concerned with avoiding vulgarity distinctions must be made to prevent communication of wrong signals. Words like cubiche are described as amusing while words like joto for example would only be used in anger, in aggression toward homosexuals or others.Not only are the words used to describe homosexuals, they are also used as an incentive against any unvirile behavior. Boys who spend too much time with women in the kitchen are teased with words such as hueco. Boys and other men often use these terms to test each other’s masculinity. Lancaster (1988) observes one such case as he describes Miguel in Nicaragua:A typical interaction between Miguel and the other boys would go as follows. They are all playing some game on the sidewalk out front in the yard behind the house. The competition becomes acute and an argument develops. The argument eventually centers on Miguel versus some other boy or group of boys. Miguel’s claim in the dispute is answered by the charge that he is a cochon. He insists, “Yo no soy cochon” (“I am not a cochon”), and fighting ensures, with Miguel typically throwing the first punches. The other boys eventually subdue Miguel and mimic sodomizing him (115)Anything out of the ordinary such as fear or lack of interest in working the land make one subject to this tease. Academics, for example, are seen as too given to non practical thinking. They are subject to being labeled cochones unless they prove themselves masculine by public communications of masculinity such as marrying and having children.Not all men can escape such labels. Men who are homosexual are often expected to have “such personal characteristics as effeminacy and flamboyance. Feminized by more masculine men, some cochones act out their role in the more extreme form of transvestitism. Many more appropriate semitransvetic forms of dress: a shirt just a little too blousy, or pants slightly too feminine in color, fit, or texture” (117). Men who have been forced to submit to anal intercourse are expected to try to recover their status, but the label will remain with them. There will always be suspicion of their masculinity.Homosexuality is induced, then as a result of power struggles between men. Men prove themselves more masculine than others, sometimes causing a homosexual label to be associated with the least masculine. The community’s idea of what a man is and how he comports himself is repeatedly evident in the “making” of homosexuals. More importantly, the function of such ideas really motivates the construction of the folk category.
STANDARDS OF VIRILITY
Machismo is a system of patterns of behavior that are extremely male and reinforced by those around the male. Lancaster (1992: 236) elaborates on machismo and its functions: “Machismo, then, is a matter of constantly asserting one’s masculinity by way of practice that show the self to be “active,” not “passive” (as defined in a given milieu).” Not only must males position themselves in a masculine way. They are expected to act in a particular way. Machismo exists in Central America where it take the form of virility. Un varon is expected to be virile. Machismo is not worshipped as much as it serves a purpose. Latinos do not identify with machismo. Latin Americans do not event think about it. It is just the way things are.It is evident men are expected to act a certain way. From childhood men are steered away from things that are woman like or from roles that are woman like. It is important for a boy to know that he is different than women. Standards of virility are often dichotomized, having both negative and positive characteristics. The negative behavior includes womanizing and excessive hostility. Positive behavior includes generosity and loyalty to the family and nation.Standards of virility for people who work the land in the country are important. Maintaining such standards means the social order is maintained. The crops will be harvested and other tasks such as the keeping of live stock will get done at the proper times. The tasks that bring subsistence and maintain standards of living will not be neglected as long as men know what to do. Anything that is disruptive to virility endangers the community.
SUBVERSIVE BEHAVIOR: VIRILITY AND THE HOMOSEXUAL
Anal intercourse implies a pleasure that is distracting from the practical tasks of a man’s work. Brandis (1981:216) for example states that this fear of enjoying penetration is salient in Latin American males. It is important to avoid the hedonic component of the standard of virility. Such a component could possibly include the allure of anal intercourse. Males are at risk of becoming homosexual by submitting to anal intercourse. Such men then are not seen as productive elements of the society. So any behavior which steers men from their proper role is equivalent to homosexual behavior.Men are not expected to sleep with other men in any way. A homosexual is one who goes to bed with other men regardless of his role. The man who perceives himself as a virile varon, which Lancaster (1992) describes in Nicaragua as a hombre-hombre, and yet sleeps with men is suspected of homosexuality. Contrary to established work (Kutche, Parker, Lancaster, Carrier and others ), the active insertor is not free from stigma. The active male stigma derives from suspicion. My informants tell me an active male is very much subject to scorn. The very fact a man would prefer to penetrate another man rather than a woman makes him vulnerable to suspicion. Such an act is seen as useless. No life will come of it The result is negative on the family: no children to help the father with his work. If it is known that a man sleeps with other men as the insertor his masculinity is still suspect. Situational homosexuality, as in prisons, however, vindicates the active male’s masculinity because absolute necessity forced him to sleep with men. The story of the older man in the fields is not seen as a case of situational homosexuality. He is a law breaker. The listo for example is labeled a canalla or desgraciado . He is breaking the standards of virility by stealing virility from other men. His activity takes on a label of it own. Regardless of age, he is equivalent to a pederast or rapist. Activos disregard the standards of virility. He very much deserves the label cubiche. He may demonstrate masculinity but his actions are contradictory to the masculine ideal.Simply stated, the standard of virility serves its purpose. Virile men work fields and this supports themselves, their families and their nation.
CONCLUSION
Many sociocultural factors facilitate the development of folk notions about homosexuality. The central popular notion about homosexuality discussed in the context of Central America was a popular belief that homosexuality can be induced. This paper specifically focuses on the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Generalizations are made about these regions because they share similar characteristics. The analysis of the popular belief was prefaced by commenting on the affects of historical setting and the development of ideology about masculinity as a result of both native ideology and Spanish ideology, political and economic systems as well as systems of ethnicity and class.Though only regional folklore was analyzed, the results strongly indicate that there are practical reasons to develop and maintain notions that men are susceptible to becoming homosexuals. Men may loose their virility and then serve no purpose to their community. It is especially important for people who still depend on agriculture to construct these folk notions. Such notions reinforce expectations and in a practical way maintain a way of life for people.

28.8.06

ΟΙ ΝΙΚΑΡΑΓΟΥΑΝΟΙ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΟΙ ΧΡΕΙΑΖΟΝΤΑΙ ΤΗ ΣΥΜΠΑΡΑΣΤΑΣΗ ΜΑΣ 2

Για να διευκολύνουμε όλους εκείνους που θα ήθελαν να συμπαρασταθούν στον αγώνα των νικαραγουανών ομοφυλοφίλων για την κατάργηση του άρθρου 204 αλλά δεν γνωρίζουν τι να γράψουν στην επιστολή διαμαρτυρίας τους προς τον πρέσβη παραθέτουμε το ακόλουθο γράμμα-υπόδειγμα της Διεθνούς Αμνηστίας:

Sr. Embajador
Me dirijo a usted para expresarle mi honda preocupación por la vigencia del artículo 204 de la Ley del Código Penal de Nicaragua. Es de mi conocimiento que a pesar de las positivas iniciativas emprendidas en todo el continente americano, Nicaragua sigue criminalizando las relaciones sexuales mantenidas de común acuerdo entre personas del mismo sexo, con el artículo 204 de la Ley de Código Penal de Nicaragua que cita:
Comete delito de sodomía el que induzca, promueva, propagandice o practique en forma escandalosa el concúbito entre personas del mismo sexo. Sufrirá la pena de uno a tres años de prisión. [...]. (Artículo 204)
Amnistía Internacional considera una violación grave de los derechos humanos la aplicación de leyes de “sodomía” para encarcelar a personas del mismo sexo que, en privado y de común acuerdo, mantienen relaciones sexuales. El actual artículo 204 conculca numerosas disposiciones del derecho internacional en materia de derechos humanos. El Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (PIDCP), al que Nicaragua se adhirió sin reservas en 1980, protege los derechos a la libertad de expresión (artículo 19), a la libertad de no ser objeto de injerencias arbitrarias o ilegales en la vida privada (artículo 17) y a la libertad de conciencia (artículo 18). Asimismo, el Pacto afirma la igualdad de todas las personas ante la ley y el derecho a no ser objeto de discriminación (artículos 2 y 26). En el histórico caso Toonen vs. Australia, de 1994, el Comité de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, encargado de vigilar el cumplimiento del PIDCP por parte de los Estados, concluyó que, en aplicación de esos artículos, la orientación sexual debe entenderse como una condición que ha de estar protegida contra la discriminación. Los Estados no pueden limitar el disfrute de los derechos humanos en función de la orientación sexual de las personas. Desde entonces, el Comité de Derechos Humanos de la ONU ha instado a los Estados no sólo a abrogar las leyes que criminalizan la homosexualidad, sino también a consagrar la prohibición de discriminación basada en la orientación sexual en sus constituciones u otras leyes fundamentales. La discriminación en función de la orientación sexual también está prohibida por otros tratados internacionales de derechos humanos en los que Nicaragua es Estado parte.
Informes recientes aparecidos en medios de comunicación y otros informes de activistas de derechos humanos de Nicaragua indican que el presidente Enrique Bolaños, al parecer, habría ordenado la compilación de una lista de funcionarios públicos “sospechosos” de ser parte del “mundo gay-lésbico” para que fueran despedidos antes de abandonar su cargo en enero de 2007, tras las elecciones de noviembre de 2006. Amnistía Internacional considera que homofobia de tan alto nivel conferiría sanción oficial a actos de violencia cometidos contra personas del colectivo LGBT.
Preocupado por esta situación, me pongo en contacto con usted para expresarle mi preocupación y le manifiesto lo siguiente:
- La mayoría de países del continente americano han despenalizado la homosexualidad.
- Todas las personas son iguales ante la ley y las autoridades tienen la obligación de garantizar el pleno respeto de los derechos humanos de todas las personas en Nicaragua, independientemente de su orientación sexual o identidad de género
- Nadie puede ser detenido ni encarcelado únicamente en función de su orientación sexual o identidad de género, real o percibida, incluido el hecho de mantener en privado y de común acuerdo relaciones sexuales entre personas del mismo sexo, defender los derechos del colectivo LGBT, o por causa de convicciones o actividades políticas, so pretexto de aplicación de cargos por delitos de homosexualidad.
Por estas razones:
-Insto al gobierno de Nicaragua a derogar el artículo 204 de la Ley de Código Penal, y a despenalizar la homosexualidad, de conformidad con las normas internacionales en materia de derechos humanos.
-Pido atentamente al presidente Bolaños una declaración de retractación de sus manifestaciones homofóbicas, y que se comprometa públicamente a garantizar que en la legislación nacional y local se proscribirá toda forma de discriminación basada en la orientación sexual o la identidad de género.
Por este medio quiero pedirle que transmita los motivos de preocupación de Amnistía Internacional mencionados aquí a las autoridades competentes de Nicaragua. Asimismo tenga a bien informarme de ello. Agradezco su atención a la presente y confío en su compromiso para atender a dicha solicitud.
Atentamente,
Υπογραφή

Παραλήπτης:
José Cuadra Chamorro
Ambassador Concurrente ante las Republicas de Grecia, Hungria y Chipre
E- mail: embanicitalia@hotmail.com

ΟΙ ΝΙΚΑΡΑΓΟΥΑΝΟΙ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΟΙ ΧΡΕΙΑΖΟΝΤΑΙ ΤΗ ΣΥΜΠΑΡΑΣΤΑΣΗ ΜΑΣ

Μέσω ηλεκτρονικού ταχυδρομείου λάβαμε από τον νικαραγουανό ποιητή Héctor Avellán την επιστολή που αναδημοσιεύουμε σήμερα, δυστυχώς «κατόπιν εορτής», αλλά ελπίζοντας ότι έστω κι έτσι συμβάλλουμε στη γνωστοποίηση και ηθική ενίσχυση του αγώνα των νικαραγουανών ομοφυλοφίλων να καταργηθεί το άρθρο 204 του ποινικού κώδικα της χώρας τους, που τιμωρεί με φυλάκιση τις σεξουαλικές σχέσεις μεταξύ ανδρών.
Όπως ξαναγράψαμε και στις 17-5-2006, επιστολές διαμαρτυρίας μπορείτε να στέλνετε στην πρεσβεία της Νικαράγουας στη Ρώμη*, που είναι υπεύθυνη εκτός από την Ιταλία και για την Ελλάδα και την Κύπρο.
Ελάτε όλοι μαζί να προσπαθήσουμε να εξαλείψουμε αυτό το όνειδος.
.
Queer actie voor Nicaragua!
Nicaragua is the only country in Latin-America where same-sex relationships are still prohibited by law. Therefore the Autonomous Youth Organization for Latin America (Ojala), together with Nicaraguan gay poet Hector Avellan, took an action last Gay Pride to protest against this law and to show solidarity with LGBT activists in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is the only country in Latin-America where same-sex relationships are still prohibited by law. Article 204 of the Nicaraguan Penal Code states: “Anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes or practices in scandalous form sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomy and shall incur 1 to 3 years’ imprisonment.” – Article 204 This law potentially criminalizes not only gay men, lesbians and bisexual people in same-sex relationships, but is vague enough to permit the prosecution of individuals for activities such as campaigning for LGBT rights or anyone providing sexual health information or services. The Autonomous Youth Organization for Latin America (Ojala), together with Nicaraguan gay poet Hector Avellan, took an action last gay pride to protest against this law and to show solidarity with LGBT activists in Nicaragua. A poem of Hector was put on a wooden construction in the water, which miraculously did not sink (see foto’s). Additonally the 18 th of august the queer group of Ojala, Rebeldia Rosa, and Hector are organising an evening where Hector will read some of his poems (which will also be translated into Dutch) and explain some more on the situation of LGBT youth in Nicaragua. Also live music and Nicaraguan Rum Flor de Caςa! Viva la Rebeldia Rosa!
Datum: Vrijdag 18 augustus Tijd: 20:00 Prijs: 2,50 Plaats: Latijns-Amerika Centrum, Nieuwe Herengracht 29, Amsterdam Taal: Zowel in Spaans als Nederlands
..
*José Cuadra Chamorro
Ambassador Concurrente ante las Republicas de Grecia, Hungria y Chipre
Address : Via Brescia, 16 00198 Roma, Italia.
Phone : (00-3906) 841-4693 - (003906) 841-3471
Fax : (00-3906) 8530-4079
E- mail:
embanicitalia@hotmail.com

27.8.06

ΟΙ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΟΙ ΣΤΗ ΝΙΚΑΡΑΓΟΥΑ

Gay Nicaragua
By Gert Hekma (Gay and Lesbian Studies, Amsterdam)
Introduction
Latin-America has a strong machismo-tradition with a division of active and passive roles: the maricones (queers) taking the passive/feminine roles and the macho's the active/male roles. This dichotomy is an ideal type, as it seems to be common for a subcategory of macho's to desire to be penetrated.
At the same time, Latin-America is since long strongly influenced by western models of homosexuality, so in most bigger cities exists also a gay culture of bars, journals and movements that is oriented on the United States and Europe. All shades of effeminacy are present: from the effeminate queers to drag queens and transsexuals. Nicaragua has known recently a turbulent political history swinging from an ultraconservative (Somoza) to a communist (Sandinistas) regime while there is now a broad democratic coalition.
Under this new administration, the Catholic Church that is staunchly anti-homosexual, has gained influence. Perhaps to get the support of the church, the new government has introduced anti-homosexual legislation. This is an amazing development because the general trend, also in Latin-America, is of a stronger gay movement and more gay rights. The peculiar political and legal situation of Nicaragua will be certainly topic of research in some case studies. The city of Managua, the capital of a million inhabitants where somewhat more than a quarter of the Nicaraguan population lives, has been struck by several devastating earthquakes, the last one in 1972 that completely destroyed the center of the city which has never been completely rebuilt.
1. Spaces
As there is no clear center to the city, gay spaces are spread over the city and miss a central focus. As the restructuring of urban spaces has been quite recent and only started recently, we will try to find out how certain places have become gay spaces. It has always been an enigma how spaces turn gay and in this case there might be histories or myths about the origin of homosexual spots.
The main places are nowadays the ruins of the cathedral, the Central Park, the Ruben Dario Theatre and along the shores of Lake Managua. These places are active from the late afternoon until eleven in the evening. But in fact, any place lends itself to homosexual encounters. It can happen on markets, street corners, in shopping centers, at bus stops. The three bars that exist nowadays, function as a kind of focus for a core group of western-style gays. But most of gay life is elsewhere, in the streets, parks and among the ruins of Managua.
2. Sexual border traffic. The machismo-system in particular allows a strong sexual border traffic between at one hand the macho-men and at the other hand the maricones and also youth that are willingly or unwillingly involved in the erotic games of adult men. The system gives a clear structure to homosexual arrangements, but as is clear from the literature (Parker 1991; Lancaster 1992; Carrier 1995), in general men can find their own sexual niche in this system, being masculine but also gay or being macho but also interested in anal penetration.
Much depends on public appearance: as long as you look like a macho, other people will make no qualms about sexual digressions unless they have some good reason. Most people are aware of the limitations of the system and close an eye on transgressions that are kept private and silent.
3. Language.
Nicaragua knows a specific word for the Latin-American maricone, "cochon" that clearly stems from the French and means "pig". It is a very harsh word for passive gay men. As nothing is known about the specific Nicaraguan vocabulary, research has to be done in this field.
4. Identity and community. There is no strong feeling of identity or community for men involved in homosexual behavior, except for the maricones who have a strong sense of identity and for the western style gays who have a sense both of identity and community. For them, there exist now three bars and two gay movements Nimehuatzin and Xochiquetzal while gay demonstrations have been held. The Indian names for the movement suggest a strong awareness of an Indian past that might have been more gay. Moreover, there are nowadays strong connections with the Nicaraguan community in the United States which has made gay representations widely available, ranging from pornography, journals to literature.
It has brought a certain self-consciousness to gay men in Managua. Maricones have also a sense of identity, but little sense of community as long as they are each other's rivals in attracting macho men. It will be certainly part of the research to find out about the interactions between the different groups. For example, how well known are the western-style places among macho's and maricones; what kind of meaning they attribute to these places; do the macho's feel it as a threat that they might be defined as gay; and how do western-style gay men relate to the system of macho and maricone?
5. Gender. With the system of macho and maricone, there is a clear gender divide. Latin- American cultures are known to be strongly gender-dichotomous and this works as well in the sexual sphere. There is a general awareness in the population of the more effeminate maricones and they are accepted as they are. They perform traditional women's duties and have traditional female jobs such as working on markets, in bars and restaurants
6. Age. Homosexual activity is the strongest among younger men who are not yet married. Girls have to remain virgins so the young men turn to each other for sexual outlets. Interestingly enough, this situation pertains although women's liberation has made strong inroads in Nicaraguan society. Growing older, most young men marry and make an end to their homosexual experiments. Only maricones and western-style gay men continue to look for same-sex relations at an older age.
7. Sexual practices. The sexual behavior is strongly modeled on a system of macho-men who penetrate maricones. As stated above, this system is the public face that hides what goes on in private. In privacy, the tables can be turned around. The main question for a real man is that his aberrant behaviors remain unknown in public. This puts the maricones in an ambivalent position. They have power over the men with whom they have sex because they know about his private sexual desires and are therefore dangerous to these men. But at the other hand, the men will always deny possible allegations of the maricones and denounce them as liars.
So there is both anxiety and distrust of the effeminate maricones who are considered to be both weak gossips and strong persons who tell the truth. It makes sexual relations between macho's and maricones fraught with danger, also for the maricone who has to handle a man who can be strongly ambivalent about what he is doing. But in these dangers, strong desires can be awakened and intimate bondings formed.

26.8.06

ΟΙ ΟΜΟΦΥΛΟΦΙΛΟΙ ΣΤΟΝ ΠΑΝΑΜΑ

Panama's gays fight homophobia for real acceptance
By Robin Emmott
.
She was beautiful. She was sassy. She was adored. As Ana Carolina passed through the crowds, high on her carriage of feathers, she waved and danced--Panama City's Carnival queen. But Ana Carolina was Jorge, and Jorge is gay.
In Panama you can lose your job for being gay. There are no gay lobbyists, no openly gay politicians and no local gay magazines. In this unashamedly macho society, homophobic music is not uncommon on the radio. Even the gay community has no universally recognized leaders. Gay pride? Out of the question.
Still, as in other years, for a few days this year during Panama's pre-Lenten Carnival, the country's gay men were granted permission to run their own floats and have their own gay Carnival queen. "Perhaps it's because the straight Carnival queens are so outrageously dressed that we can also take part - dressed in drag," says Jorge, a 23-year-old marketing student.
"Whatever the reason, Carnival is the only time that we as Panama's gays can be open about our sexuality." Following Carnival earlier this month, Panama's gays are able to look back at the festivities as the closest they have come to full acceptance in the celebrations. "Young people cheered us on the gay parades with a real friendless," says Jorge.
The gay community gained government permission for two other queens in the provinces, aside from Jorge's appearance as Panama City's gay queen. Roberto, a 28-year-old hairdresser, appeared as the gay queen in the central town of Anton. "We went to Anton this year because the people there are not anti-gay as in other towns. We were surprisingly well received," says Roberto.
NO FUN WHEN THE PARTY'S OVER
But away from the exuberance of Carnival, being gay in Panama isn't easy. "I've been beaten up for being gay," says Ruben, a smartly dressed 26-year-old business student. "People insult me when I walk down the street and I've had problems getting part time jobs. Groups such as the Catholic Church think we are immoral and vulgar." Gay tourists are told to steer clear of Panama. "If you are a gay traveler looking to spend time in a country that embraces people regardless of their sexual preference, Panama is not the country for you," advises the U.S-based Lonely Planet guide book.
And besides the fun of dressing up as a woman at Carnival, genuine transvestites in Panama face discrimination, pushed to the edges of society. "Transvestites know nothing of safe sex because no one wants to talk about it," says Morgan, a 50-year-old heterosexual who saw his transvestite friend Alegria die from AIDS last year. Some 4,000 people currently suffer from the disease in this country of just under 3 million inhabitants. Roxany, a 22-year-old transvestite who began living as a woman at 15, lives from the $100 a month her boyfriend gives her and the occasional show she does in a nightclub. "My father nearly beat me to death when I first told him I was a transvestite," she says, wearing a long green summer dress. "But I was lucky. I have friends who were kicked out of home when their parents found out. And they had nowhere to go. There are no gay support groups in Panama."
Although consensual homosexual relationships between adults are legal, attempts to form legitimate gay organizations in Panama have so far been blocked. Panama's first lesbian and gay organization, Asociacion Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panama, was denied legal registration in January 2000. An effort to launch a gay political party has also foundered. From her small, dank room in the suffocating heat of a Panama City shantytown, Roxany dreams of leaving Panama for Amsterdam. "There I could be a lady. I wouldn't be constantly humiliated in public like in Panama," she says, staring at the television that is showing a local soap opera.
HOMOPHOBIA ON THE WANE
In the face of discrimination against Panama's gay men, there are some signs that society is beginning to open up. Last year a number of popular television soap operas introduced gay characters--something that would have been unthinkable five years ago, gays say. An openly gay television presenter has also emerged, broadcasting his weekly current affairs and celebrity gossip show. Harold, as he is known, has done a lot to help conservative Panamanians accept gays, says Marco, a gay 25-year-old part-time design student. "Harold is outwardly gay and effeminate, but he is humorous and intelligent too. He shows people that being gay does not mean you dress like a woman," Marco says.
More gay bars and nightclubs are also opening in Panama City. For years, fearing vandalism and homophobic attacks, gay clubs remained well-kept secrets. The biggest barrier to greater acceptance for Panama's gays is the public's reluctance to accept that high profile politicians and businessmen may be homosexual, the gay community says. While there are public figures widely rumored to be gay or bisexuals, none have stepped out of the closet. "Panama is not ready for a gay politician," says one gay man who requested anonymity. "It could be 10 years before that time comes."

25.8.06

ΚΟΣΤΑ ΡΙΚΑ: ΚΑΙ ΑΠΟΧΑΙΡΕΤΑ ΤΗΝ, ΤΗΝ PLAYITA ΠΟΥ ΧΑΝΕΙΣ

RESPONDING TO CHANGE
By Tim Dwyer

There has been a great deal of speculation on what will happen to our little paradise Playita, in Manuel Antonio. The constraction of a hotel / condominium complex behind the beach threatens the sanctity of what was once a very private and secluded beach where the brave sauntered and cruised about amongst their peers, some suited up and others wearing only Coppertone. Unfortunately times change and we know now that baby oil is for babies (and a few private activities) and not for the sun. So to, how we see Playita in the future will change , in terms of a nude beach and in terms of a gay gathering place.
There are still some judicial rulings pending but the power of money seems to have greased the way for the new project and we need to look at how we as a gay community are going to deal with this eventual reality. One friend suggested that perhaps we could have a blowjob fest on the beach in front of the condos to drive the straight folks away. Another suggested a few well-thrown hand grenades might do the trick. Others suggest that the condos need to be marketed to the gay community even though the rumor is that the developer of the property is homophobic.
Do we still claim Playita as a nude beach? There has been nudity there for more than thirty years. But in the past few years I have noticed the number of gay men and women who bear all has definitely decined. During this Semana Santa (the Holy Week holidays leading up to Easter) one could probably count hand the number of people walking around naked. Various news reports within the Costa Rican media of a “playa nudista” in Manuel Antonio have encouraged a few straight nude sunbathers cross over the rocks. However, it has never been legal to parade around naked anywhere in Costa Rica, historical precedence notwithstanding. Local police have been patrolling all the beaches of Manuel Antonio. Their rection to nudity has ranged from turning a blind eye, to asking bathers to cover up to threatening a fine up to 100$ (which I am told would only have gone to line the official’s pockets.) I expect that with the new condos the nudity will disappear. Perhaps then, nudity can be something that the gay hotels can pick up upon, encouraging more of it within their own compounds instead oh the beach. Besides, there’s nothing preventing one from kicking off the suit when one is in the water and enjoying a swim “commando style”.
It is not illegal to be gay in Costa Rica. We can gather where we wish. There is nothing that the condo developer or the future owners can do to push gay men and lesbians off the beach. It is a public beach, as are all beaches in Costa Rica. They cannot prevent the general public access to Playita. Pesonally, I don’t sit on a beach and look back at the jungle. I do lament the destruction of the virgin beauty of the area behind the beach to be sure. But I’m not planning let it stop me from enjoying the beauty of the ocean and the sound of the waves and the unique perspective of Playita.
As gay folk, we have seen many changes over the years. This is aniother change and one with which we can cope. I encourage gay men and women to keep gathering and enjoying the beauty of Playita. Don’t let the developers “win” the battle or the war. Let us happily share the beauty of the area with everyone regardless of sexual preference.

(Αναδημοσίευση από το κοσταρικανικό gay περιοδικό PLAYITA)

24.8.06

8 «ΚΑΥΤΕΣ» GAY ΠΑΡΑΛΙΕΣ

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

.

EUROPA
PLAYA DEL MUERTO // SITGES (ESPAÑA).
Es la más gay en una ciudad donde todo lo es. Pero aquí el cruising, por si te apetece ir de caza, es más salvaje.
PLAYA PAPAGALLO // LANZAROTE (ESPAÑA). Preciosa y siempre animada. Al sur de la isla se encuentra esta playa tan estupenda que los gays merecemos.

AMÉRICA
MANUEL ANTONIO // COSTA RICA
. El parque Nacional vive una explosión rosa claramente visible por la proliferación de alojamientos gays a orillas de estas virgenes playas.
PLAYA DE BARRA Y PLAYA DE LOS ARTISTAS // SALVADOR DE BAHÍA (BRASIL). Aquí lo gay tampoco es que sea como para tirar cohetes, pero en Barra hay bastante movidilla. Además, esos cuerpos, no existen en otra parte.
SOUTH BEATCH MIAMI // (EE.UU). La ciudad no es más gay porque no se puede, así que en realidad todas las playas tienen su rollo, pero sin duda es South Beach el place to go.
EL RINCÓN // PUERTO RICO. El verdadero oasis gay de la recomedable isla cuasiyanqui patria de la delirante Pantoja de Puerto Rico. ¿Estará aquí tu Ricky Martin particular?

OCEANIA
PLAYAS DE TAMARAMA, BRONTE, COOGEE O BONDI // SIDNEY (AUSTRALIA).
Otra capital de lo homosexual que tiene entre sus costas algunas de las más gays y divertidas del planeta. Al menos para nosotros...

ASIA
HONG KONG // CHINA.
Pues sí, también las maricas chinas adoran el cruising con el cuerpo lleno de sal y la piel tostada. Toda una experiencia

(Αναδημοσίευση από το ισπανικό gay περιοδικό ZERO, No 89)