Jaime and Victor, Councilman and Concierge, Santiago, Chile

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Jaime and Victor, photo by Kevin Truong
Jaime and Victor, photo by Kevin Truong
Jaime, in his own words: “Ser gay es, a la vez, una forma de vivir mis afectos y una causa política.
Vivo mis afectos con quien quiero vivirlos y en esto me declaro un afortunado. Soy del pequeño porcentaje de chilenos que puede tomar la mano a su pareja en la calle, o que puede compartir una reunión con familiares o amigos sin tener que ocultar la propia esencia. Lamentablemente la vivencia de un homosexual en Chile no sólo tiene que ver con orientación, sino que también con el segmento socioeconómico al que pertenece. Ser gay y pobre en Latinoamérica es doblar la discriminación de la que eres sujeto, lo que te deja en una posición de vulnerabilidad absoluta por razones que no necesito explicar.

En tanto causa política, el activismo LGBTI ha sido mi gran motor de vida en los últimos años. Esto que me pasa a mí, creo, le está pasando a muchos, ya que las voces que defienden esta causa se han multiplicado, así como las tribunas dispuestas para ello. Yo hablo desde la política, pero otros –cada vez más- lo hacen desde la academia, las artes, la ciencia, la educación, por nombrar sólo algunos. Hoy se está haciendo activismo en el día a día: el joven que lucha por convencer a su abuela de que lo nuestro son derechos es, en algún sentido, también un activista. Suelo hablar de microactivismo y pienso que, multiplicado por miles, será el que permitirá cambiar definitivamente la cultura.

No creo que haya una comunidad LGBT. Prefiero hablar de población, pues la “comunidad” supone intereses o necesidades comunes que, en el caso LGBTI, están algo desdibujadas. En Chile, por ejemplo, el modelo perverso de estratificación social existe, también, para nuestra población, lo que distancia a los gais ricos de los más pobres. Así como hay quienes detestan la idea de matrimonio igualitario y sólo quieren uniones civiles, también hay homosexuales lesbo o transfóbicos; existen quienes gustan del gueto y otros que no, etc . Por lo mismo, identificar una comunidad se transforma en una difícil operación del intelecto. En este sentido, la diversidad opera hasta en sus acepciones más negativas cuando se trata de Latinoamérica.

He salido del clóset muchas veces. Primero lo hice con mis hermanos, quienes me lo preguntaron a los 18 años; luego con mis padres, a los 20; con mis amigos, a los 21; y con la sociedad completa, a mis 33, cuando publiqué un intercambio de emails sobre matrimonio igualitario con mi sobrino en la revista más leída de Chile, The Clinic. Creo que lo que hice a mis veinte fue el entrenamiento para lo que habría de venir. En esa década aprendí a monitorear quiénes serían comprensivos con mi realidad y a construir un discurso de autoafirmación y de autovalidación. Lo que sembré hace 15 años hoy lo estoy cosechando como activista.

Mi recomendación es: si puede salir del clóset, hágalo. Si siente que puede manejar la situación, no lo dude; ganará usted y ganaran quienes lo quieren o respetan. Pero si cree que la situación no es propicia para hacerlo, espere un buen momento y no permita críticas en este sentido. Como decimos en Chile: “cada cual sabe dónde le aprieta el zapato”

In English:

“Being gay is, at the same time, a way to live my feelings, and a political cause.

I live my feelings with whomever I want, and so, I declare myself a very lucky man. I belong to the small percentage of Chileans that can grab their partner’s hand on the street, or can share a family or friend reunion without hiding my own essence. Unfortunately, the way a homosexual man lives and is treated in Chile doesn’t only concern orientation, but the socioeconomic environment he belongs to; being gay and poor in Latin America enhances discrimination, which leaves a gay man in an absolutely vulnerable position, for reasons I do not have to explain.

As a political cause, LGBTQ activism has been, in recent years, the great engine of my life. What’s happening to me, I believe, is happening to many more, because the voices supporting this cause have multiplied, just as the public spaces to do so. I speak from policy, but others -to an increasing extent- speak from academia, the arts, and science. Activism lives every day through our actions. The young man who argues with his grandmother about our rights, is also an activist. I usually talk about micro-activism, and I think, multiplied by thousands, it’ll be the one that will allow our culture to definitely change.

I don’t think there is an LGBTQ community in Santiago. I’d rather say population, because “community” supposes interest and joined necessities, which in the LGBTQ case, are not very clear. In Chile, for example, the perverse model of social stratification exists for the LGBTQ population, which broadens the gap between rich and poor gay men. In the same way, there are people in our community who detest the idea of marriage equality, and only want civil unions; there are also homosexuals who discriminate against lesbians or transgender people; there are some who love the ghetto, and others who don’t. Therefore, identifying a community becomes a difficult intellectual task. In this regard, diversity in Latin America operates even in its more negative senses.

I’ve came out of the closet many times. First with my brothers, who asked me at 18; then with my parents at 20; with my friends at 21; and with the rest of society at 33, when I published an exchange of e-mails with my nephew about marriage equality,on the most read magazine in Chile, The Clinic. I think what I did at 20’s was my training for the things to come. In that decade I learned to identify who would be comprehensive with my reality, and to create a speech of self-affirmation and self-validation. What I sowed 15 years ago, I am now harvesting as an activist.

My advice to young people is: If you can go out of the closet, do it. If you feel you can handle the situation, don’t doubt yourself; you and the people who love and respect you, will win at the end. But if you think the situation is far from ideal, wait for some time, and don’t allow criticism about it. Like we say in Chile: “Everyone knows where the shoe tightens.”

Victor, in his own words: “Being gay for me means just that I like men. I’m just a regular person who is trying to live a regular life. I like men, I like coffee, I like summer. The big problem is how people see all this. Sometimes, prejudices make people blind.

If sometimes your life is hard, being gay makes it harder. One of my biggest challenges was to open my eyes. I was 100% percent catholic, I studied my religion always trying to be the best. My religion was one of the most important things in my life, but for a long time I felt I was betraying my beliefs, I was betraying myself. Now I understand I don’t need a religion. I have God, and he is full of love.

The LGBT community in Santiago doesn’t seem to be a community. Most of the time our interests are as different as the people who are involved in this group. The good thing is that in some cases we create a strong force who is trying to change our country.

(With regards to coming out) At the beginning it was so easy to lie to my family because I lived in Santiago by myself. After a while, everything about me was wrong, It was so hard to carry on with all my problems that I collapsed. I got very sick….. When I told them, my life changed so much! I can not even explain how it felt, but I will be always so thankful of the family I have.

Advice I’d give to my younger self: never forget to live your life. We don’t have a time machine and nobody deserves to live just a half of their own life.

Everyone in the world deserves to be happy. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you want to be. Just look around! There is always someone who is willing to help you and support you.”

Leave a Reply