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’.