Open Mind Fest Brings Dance and Diversity Downtown

The stoic office buildings of Santiago’s civic center vibrated with thumping electronic beats on Saturday, when thousands of revelers packed downtown’s Paseo Bulnes for the third annual Open Mind Fest concert. Chile’s Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH) organized the marathon music festival, which aimed to promote visibility and equality for Chile’s sexual minorities.

Photo by Jason C. Hickerson
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

“We’re truly surprised by the good reception this event has had,” said MOVILH President Rolando Jiménez. “Clearly there aren’t just gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals here, but heterosexuals as well, and that’s more than important for social harmony and defeating discrimination and prejudice.”

Photo by Jason C. Hickerson
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

The members of what MOVILH called a record-sized crowd clustered around three stages, where dancers and more than 30 DJs kept the crowd jumping and the rainbow flags waving. Styles ranged from punk to preppy to everything in between, with a handful of attendees stealing the show with elaborate costumes and colorful drag outfits.

In addition to music, the event included two symbolic lesbian weddings and the crowning of two young women as Miss Lesbian Visibility.

Besides promoting the visibility of Chile’s lesbian community, Open Mind Fest 2008 aimed to “call attention to the need for an antidiscrimination law,” said Jiménez. “It’s time for the Senate to pass this initiative without more bureaucracy.”? ?

Photo by Jason C. Hickerson
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

Open Mind Fest attendees Cristián Contreras and Catalina Escobar believe that the law will eventually include provisions for gay and lesbian unions. They zig-zagged through the crowd promoting their business, Bodas Gay, which helps gay and lesbian couples organize symbolic weddings.

According to Gonzalo Cid, recent Santiago city council candidate and spokesman for the Unified Sexual Minorities Movement (MUMS), much has changed in Chile since a decade ago, when participants in a MUMS-organized gay pride demonstration marched with their faces covered.??

“There have been improvements, but there’s a long way to go,” he said, claiming the Chilean government should invest more in antidiscrimination initiatives.

Photo by Jason C. Hickerson
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

The government was present at Open Mind Fest, where one group of DJs set up their turntables atop a bus from the National Institute for Youth (INJUV), which sponsored the concert. INJUV Regional Director Susana Fuentes said the government agency supported the concert because it constituted a “healthy” use of public spaces and promoted acceptance of diversity.??

“We’re a diverse society; we have to respect each other,” she said.??

She admitted that much remains to be done in this regard, saying Chile is “in diapers” when it comes to issues such as diversity, solidarity and ecology.

Two Open Mind Fest crowd members, a young gay man and a lesbian university student – both of whom wished to remain anonymous – said that although Chile remains a socially conservative country, a “nationwide revolution” is occurring in which Chileans – especially young people – are becoming more accepting of sexual minorities.

They claimed the concert gave sexual minorities the opportunity to “be free on the street for the first time," an opinion echoed by MOVILH activist Sofía Velásquez. "With yesterday’s event, we took a step forward," Velásquez said on Sunday. "Thousands of homosexual and transsexual couples danced alongside heterosexual couples with complete freedom, able to express their love out in the open without any fear."

No votes yet

Other articles you might enjoy

No related items were found.

Leave a comment