Marta + Karina // Boulder LGBTQ Engagement Photos
Back in September, my cousin from Chile and her girlfriend visited me. The last time I saw her was more than 10 years ago. She is 12 years younger than me, and I remembered her as a sweet, curious girl. The last time we shared time together was in 2007 when we traveled by bus to Mendoza, Argentina. I was 26 and she was 14. I remember her parents giving me a written consent to take her out of the country...what was I thinking? That was such a big responsibility. I’m now 42 and still get a little nervous when traveling, even though I have been to more than 30 countries, in Africa, Middle East, Europe, and South America.
It was the beginning of summer and I had been to Mendoza twice before, but this time was different as I was traveling with a minor. The trip included daylight walks, window shopping, and of course eating a lot of gelato! This was the first time my cousin was out of her home country and we had a blast!
Let me go back to this curious little girl that I remembered, that is now a full grown intelligent, caring, and thoughtful woman. I remember the conversations we had back in 2007, and the conversations we have now, which are quite different. She is now in a loving, actively-open, same-sex relationship with her partner, and this is one of the stories that she shared with me. I am so proud she was able to come out and be her true self despite the prejudice or outward intolerance of some people in Chile.
To be gay in Chile (in my cousin Marta’s words):
Let's start from the basis that Chile is a conservative and predominantly Catholic country, where being gay is generally not well accepted. In the Chile of the 1980’s, where everything was hidden, you lived the love "free" between four walls, out of fear, since if you were gay, you were "odd" or "sick". Nicknames such as "faggy" "faggot" “lesbian with three testicles" “butch woman" are some of the endless number of nicknames that were recklessly thrown around.
From the 80’s we jump to the year 2006, where young people woke up and created a movement of freedom of expression, empowered but in constant struggle, nicknamed "The Penguin Revolution". A social movement of young revolutionaries woke up a prudish country. The love free of prejudice was normalized, and with this came the new community groups. One group in particular, the tribe of the "Pokémon", gave a new air to the homosexual movement, which had been hidden for years in Chile. Now the young people wanted to experiment with people of the same sex, and they were not afraid to show it in public. From 2006 to the present, things in Chile have changed a lot. Today being gay is no longer a subject of focus, but there will always be a part of the population that will point and discriminate against you.
Can you express love freely in Chile? Hmm… We have legal protections, known as the “Zamudio Law". Who was Zamudio? A young man in his twenties who, because he was gay, was tortured, skin burned, cut with broken bottles, and as if that was not enough, his body was marked with a Nazi swastika. Daniel Zamudio spent 29 days agonizing in the hospital, then died, and in doing so paralyzed a country, that now requested justice.
Even with the legal protections, there are still problems. So far in 2019, there have been five homophobic attacks where 3 have ended in death. In Chile, for the most part, you cannot freely express that you are gay, even now.
Is same-sex marriage legal in Chile? No, it is not. Nor is marrying in the church, or civil registry, or for a same-sex couple to adopt a child. However, there is the "Civil Union Agreement", which basically is a contract between people of the same-sex, that serves to safeguard the economic part of the relationship.
Can you be a free gay, openly? Totally! But care must be taken in certain situations. For example, at many jobs, you cannot be totally free and open because it could be a reason for dismissal. In many instances, it is easier and safer to keep it hidden.
As I was documenting these moments for them, I felt so lucky to be the only witness of their love!