The Pride of Santiago

As ever the place for Santiago's mass public gatherings, a recent shiny Saturday saw Plaza Italia as the peace-and-love-filled venue for proud Chilenos celebrating diversity, progress and most importantly, acceptance.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

The jovial atmosphere, encouraged by the surprisingly hot winter sun, pulsed with dance music. Everyone from young children to drag queens showed support for the twenty-year old movement, which recognizes the differences in us all, but focuses on the similarities.

After the gathering in the Plaza, the whole group, estimated around 12,000 by La Tercera, sang, danced and marched down the Alameda to the finishing point in front of La Moneda.

The Pride March, organized and sponsored by Movil, represented Santiago at its finest.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

One of the most powerful speakers was a man dressed, demurely for this event, in a sweater and khaki combo, who spoke on behalf of his family: a male partner and daughter. He clearly explained that the march did not simply celebrate homosexuals and their lifestyle, but represented “todos los Chilenos decir que NO a la discriminación! (all Chileans saying NO to discrimination!)”

The organizing group, Movil, which represents sexual diversity in Chile, celebrated 20 years of action with the march. Reminders of the work yet to be done pierced the exuberant mood. As Romy, 37, standing tall in platform shoes and fishnets explained, “The last 20 years have seen 4 different governments and still no change. We only want change,” referring to the campaign for approval of civil unions for same-sex couples in Chile.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

Joaquin, 27, also emphasized the importance of civil unions, but felt that the hard work comes in changing the mentality of the population at large, rather than adjusting one specific law. Joaquin works for GayFone, a popular phone service connecting gay Chileans looking for support and new friends via a dial-in number. The service, encouraged by support over the past few months, plans to expand to other Latin American countries shortly.

Indeed, many in the crowd echoed the desire for legal changes in Chile, but the problem runs deeper than simple legality. Eduardo, 24, in Santiago only for the momentous weekend, stated simply, “el gobierno no le importa cambiar (the government does not care to change).” He cited the reason as the country’s traditional, Catholic roots, a probable influence on many Chilenos today.

But Eduardo has hope for the future. “This is just what Chile needs. All the people together, screaming.”

www.movilh.org

www.gayfone.cl

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