I realized I haven’t really included much about how being gay has affected my time here (especially since I’m being paid specifically to talk about this). However, this aspect of my life really didn’t impact me during the first half of my experience. As I mentioned before, there is not the same kind visibility in BA as there is in other “gay-friendly” areas of the world. I have only witnessed glimpses when I least expected it- a man on the collectivo with a rainbow pin, or picking up signals from people on the streets with dyed hair. I have seen a grand total of THREE gay couples- in all these instances I wanted to marvel at how amazing this was but I didn’t want them to see I was staring and ruin the moment. At boliches I would sometimes dance with guys. Otherwise, zilch.
This changed two months ago while I was doing work at Bosques de Palermo, and I saw something in the distance I couldn’t believe- a rainbow flag. I almost ran towards the flag, until I saw what it was for- a tent for La Fundación Nacional Argentina LGBT. I talked with one of the organizers, who told me about weekly volunteer meetings the Fundación had every week and gave me the address, I couldn’t believe my luck.
Nearly every Thursday night since, I’ve attended these meetings at their HQ on Av. de Mayo. It was shocking at first talking about queer politics with other queer people, something I hadn’t done since with my LGBT group at Bates in May. Many times I’ve been an observer, yet I’ve still learned more about the community in Argentina than before. I learned that despite marriage equality and some anti-discrimination laws, the real challenge is moving society from simply tolerance to acceptance, to create the visibility I naturally expected before coming here. Especially outside Buenos Aires, the subject is still taboo, with couples getting arrested for causing “public disturbances” and the more conservative provinces slow to integrate LGBT topics into school curriculums. Discussions often transition to more light-hearted topics such as Tinder and straight people antics. Most hilarious for me was the difficulty of pansexuals to identify as such, because the English phrase for being open to people of all gender identities is used, and pan means bread in castellano… it’s extremely confusing for the average person, so many pansexuals just stick with the bisexual label, at least until there’s more awareness xD
La Fundación also helps organize the annual La Marcha de Orgullo, BA’s gay pride parade. I am super excited to be attending, especially since I thought I wouldn’t make it, as it’s the same weekend as the IFSA trip to Uruguay. But after my revelations in Mendoza about taking advantage of my time here, I decided to prioritize the march. I’ll be with the program for the first two days, and then leave Uruguay early. Because when I am going to have the opportunity to see a pride parade in another country again? Especially here where it’s much more political and without reeking of corporate influence as is often the case in the states.
La Marcha also provided the chance to finally come out to my host mom! I never doubted that Marta would accept me, the opportunity just never came up. That is until I had to tell her why I would be returning from Uruguay so early…it was the chillest coming out experience ever. She smiled, happy I was observing Argentine politics so closely. But did you know I was gay, I asked? She didn’t, but it didn’t matter, as long as I was a good person. And that was it. Más papas, Dylan?