Anderson Cooper would be proud   6 comments

I can’t help but laugh – Anderson Cooper coming out now is perfect timing!   The grand opening of a new bar near our neighborhood happened just a few weeks ago.  The bar is called “El Gato Verde” and it’s the biggest deal to hit this part of rural Chalatenango since the circus came to our little canton/town two years ago.

On opening night, all sorts of people showed up from all over.  Including two men, who came with different groups of friends, who are obviously openly gay by their dress and conversation.  Fairly normal for a bar full of people.

Also among the crowd was a group of four young men, dressed like any other teenage boys would in the area – same type of shirt, jeans, hairstyle, etc.    They were also….openly gay/bi, all dancing together on the dance floor.

This surprised me, because from my experiences with Salvadorans in Boston and the boys in our Salvadoran “hood”, rural male sentiment usually comes in two flavors, “macho” and “machista,” or  “manly” and “chauvinistic manly”.   Seeing these six youth, all demonstrating that they are either openly gay or bi, in a bar in the middle of the country in El Salvador was new and unexpected – at least to me.    I found it funny because it was so in contrast from my long-held ideas about rural living in general, and our rural world here.

I saw no negative reactions, hostility, or discrimination by other people in the bar towards them, and that was a good thing.  My husband is definitely more old school, and he joked about it after we got home.

So there you have it, being openly gay is becoming acceptable in rural El Salvador.  Times are a changin’.

6 responses to “Anderson Cooper would be proud

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  1. Wow, I was just in Chalate around this time last year and I never would have guessed that anyone would be openly gay. It looked like things had stood still in time – unchanged since my first visit in 1999. This is really interesting and I hope that there truly is more acceptance for gays there. Even people from San Salvador still refer to things being “gay” … Our good friend’s teenage son often used that word negatively, (he especially liked to rant about Justin Bieber), and I’d cringe every time because we had our boys (ages 13 and 10) along with us and I’ve taught them that using the word “gay” in a negative way isn’t appropriate.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this.

    • Tracy, thank you for commenting. I was compelled to write about this bc I was so surprised too. The rural world here is becoming less remote, quickly. I think the internet is one big reason. Teens are hooked on Facebook, and go on the internet every chance they can at a ‘cyber’ or by paying for internet minutes on a phone. A few years ago, I did not see kids here (in el ‘campo’) going on the net with a smartphone, using rechargeable internet minutes.

  2. I just ran into this blog. I’m Salvadorean and I live in El Salvador, near the capital. I think those guys were just lucky for not having faced hostitily at that bar. Perhaps it was an expensive one where you can find educated people only. Most people can’t afford those places, especially in rural areas. Homophobia still remains very rooted. Even in the capital, middle and high class people tend to be homophobic, always commenting negatively on LGBT topics.

    • Julio, I’m glad you ran into this page and thank you SO much for your input on this topic. Amazingly, this was not one of those fancy bars, it was a bar that had recently opened, in the middle of rural Chalatenango not far from Agua Caliente, which the whole area was “checking out” at the time, and they were offering good deals to get pp stopping by. I was surprised myself not to see the expected homophobia, but as you say, this is still quite the exception for people to have tolerance in E.S., then. I think there may be a lot of double standards and a peculiar mix between pp who are ‘out’ and pp in E.S. who are as a friend of mine instructed me, are ‘on the down low’. Do you think religious views have a big influence on opinions of the LBGT culture in El Salvador?

  3. Religion has a great influence on the topic. Many people in ES are catholic. Catholicism says that homosexual ‘tendencies’ are not a sin, but that homosexual ‘acts’ are. It also encourages not to discriminate LGBT people and to love them, and it invites LGBT people to remain celibate and pray to God. Catholics usually use a religious argument when asked why they show hatred towards the LGBT community, but they ignore that Catholicism is against discrimination. This argument is reinforced by the traditional concept of the role of men on Salvadoran families: they’re the ones who work, they are skilful with tools, they don’t do home tasks such as cleaning or cooking and stuff like that. When this kind of ‘macho’ men are asked why it should be that way, they respond that it’s always been like that and that everyone or most of the people think like them.I think this answer is a double falacy, because the fact that things have always been done in some way doesn’t mean they’ve been done in the right way (or in the best way). Similarly, the fact that many people believe something is fair doesn’t mean it actually is fair. Maybe the ‘macho’ men role had a purpose long ago, but nowadays that purpose is no longer rational. I’m not very aware of the Protestan view on the topic but it also influences negatively. Sadly, the Government has not done much on the issue, they just ignore it. Very few times has the Legislative Assembly touched the issue. The conservative parties always oppose unequivocally to the improvements directed to the LGBT community. The actual government (Mauricio Funes’ government) has been the first one that has tried to work some things out.

    • Its good that Funes’ government has at least done something. Yes I’m sure the L.Assembly wouldnt want to touch it with a ten foot pole as anything in support of LGBT would interfere with their political future as they know the mayority’s sentiment and will stick with that. What’s so funny, Julio, is that macho man role of the MAN making all the money in El Salvador has turned upside down for many families, in my opinion. I’ve seen lots of cases where the women in a house are doing their womanly stuff and on top of it selling tortillas or pupusas or running a store, while their husband, who has returned from the U.S for a ‘descanso’ or deported is unable to or unwilling to work, the savings have run out, and the WOMAN is the one who is actually supporting the family! I am extremely impressed with your English, btw, We’ll continue to talk more.

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