A Glimpse into Queer Santiago
First of all, I’d like to preface this post by saying that I did not, in any way, participate in the march I’m going to talk about below. The IFSA staff were very clear on letting us know that, as foreigners, we would risk being deported by doing so! Thankfully, just hanging out in what was more or less the staging area for the march and watching it depart was a valuable experience.
With that fun tidbit out of the way, the fun can begin! On Saturday a friend and I went to check out the marcha LGBTI por derechos filiativos y ley de igualdad del género, or in English, the LGBTI march for familial rights and gender equality. Not to be confused with pride, a large-scale celebration of the queer community, this march specifically focused on the push for rights for non-nuclear families and trans folks. There were many different groups represented, each with their own distinctive banners and the ubiquitous rainbow flag. There was a wide range of ages represented in the march, with everyone from kids to older adults taking to the streets. Despite the heavy police presence, there didn’t seem to be any tension between marchers and officers, and there were no groups protesting against the march (at least, not at the beginning of the march where we were taking everything in).
The march itself was truly great to watch. After a difficult last couple of weeks full of late nights, hundreds of pages of reading, and impending deadlines, it was revitalizing to be able to get out and take in another aspect of life here. This march was friendlier than most that appear on TV/the news here; there have been several large-scale protests against the Chilean pension system that have resulted in violent clashes with police, and just a few days ago some activists in harnesses hung from an overpass while others blocked the busy avenue below them in protest of their housing situations. Marches and protests are big in Chile, with the Plaza Italia being a central meeting point for the large crowds, often of thousands of people, that participate. As expected, Saturday’s march didn’t have the same draw as marches in protest of Chile’s education or pension systems do, but in my eyes was still a decently-sized gathering with many different groups represented.
As a queer person myself, it was refreshing to be able to see the queer community here in Santiago gathered in such large numbers, able to freely walk the streets and push for change. While I couldn’t participate due to the (logical) stipulations mentioned above, even just taking in the march made for a fantastic afternoon, and made me glad to be able to see another facet of life in Santiago.