Adventures in the land of the gays

January 31, 2009

Last weekend I went out with my new friends Kristina and Josh to, delight of delights, a gay bar. Although Kristina and I accepted that there probably wouldnt be any lesbians there, and we really going out so Josh could get laid, I was still pretty darn excited about my only expedition into the land of the gays for about 4 months. A long time to be travelling away from the herd.

Since being in Central America I have been curious about the existence of queers, especially women here. The investment of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua in machoism makes male sexuality very obvious, and although all homosexuality is, according to some doctors and taxi drivers my friends have met, ¨bad¨, I can imagine that men get laid here a lot more often than women (I love that the machosim which only pisses me off, and fascinates me a little here, is for Josh amazingly hot). Like our own countries, men are allowed an exuberant sexuality while women´s is sketchily linked to things like emotions, and procreative desire, instead of lust (I´ve recently come to believe my ability to lust after a woman I know is a complete jerk and will not satisfy any of my emotional needs disproves this theory). The lack of visible female queers here caused me to be so excited to see a Salvadorean butchfemme couple before Christmas that, if I hadnt been on the bus, I might have run up to them and demanded to be their friend (Which, knowing the people here, probably would have worked). As it was I just tracked them along the window pane as though I were five (or, um, 25) and they a delectable pair of lollies until they passed.

Queers on a boat

Queers on a boat

It is such an overwhelmingly heteronormative culture that it is easy to believe that queers just dont exist. Or that they live trembling inside their parents undersized closet (Unmarried people here live with their parents, no matter their age or economic situation). However, in a few places such as Matagalpa and the capital Managua, where we were, a queer community and culture does exist. It´s just that you need to be very industrious to find it. So, following Kristina and Josh´s internet research we headed to Tabu, an appropriately named dive. When we got there we encountered one crappy aspect of being a gringo in C.A.: the scam. We were told that there we strippers and we had to pay 5 bucks, an exorbitant price. We later realised that both the price and the strippers were a load of bullshit. So, we decided to go upstairs and participate in that other cultural phenomenon, karaoke. And not only karaoke. Gay Karaoke. I challenge Tokyo to produce a similar spectacle of queer men screaming along to latinamerican (or Japanese) songs of forbidden love and crappy lovers. In this over-airconditoned room we ordered a servicio of Flor de Cana rum and started to check out our fellow clientele. A room full of gay men, four lesbians, one woman about whom we were undecided, a group of annoyingly affectionate straights (perhaps trying to prove just how open-minded they were for being there whicle actually preventing any contact with the nasty queers by being as sleazy as possible with each other), and one old straight man who, typically, came onto me. I think we went on the wrong night.

Nicaraguan and, according to Kristina and Josh, Central American lesbian culture in general seems to be based on a strong butch-femme dynamic. A common question is whether you are activo or passivo, with the butches being active and the femmes passive. The top/bottom relation obviously exists elsewhere, and the butch top and femme bottom dynamic is one that I greatly enjoy, but activo here seems to mean more stone butch than anything else (For those who aren´t familiar with the term, stone in this sense means someone who won´t allow herself to be fucked). Although I (unfortunately) haven´t tested it out that much, the only (kinda butch)ladino lover I´ve had here really wanted to be the doer and wouldn´t let me touch her much. These identities seem similar to the lesbian scenes of the fifties and sixties that I have read about (mostly in the U.S. although I am sure they existed in other countries such as Canada and the UK). I find them completely valid, yet I am always inclined to question any rigid definition of how a queer sh0uld be, whether imposed by that community or by the big bad straight world. I´m sure this dynamic suits some just fine – and I sure have had my fun with it – but there must be those who feel forced into one way of being just to have the pleasure of joining the scene.

the lonely monkey I fell in love with and wanted to rescue from negligent hell

Monkey love: the lonely monkey I fell in love with and wanted to rescue from negligent hell. N.B. This is NOT a comment on homosexuality and d/evolution.

I don´t really have any concrete conclusion to draw from my observations. Although I am welcomed into the lesbian scene as a queer myself, I am not ladino, not from this country, and there must be so much I don´t understand. I assume that the amount of queers forming a community must be a newish phenomenon however, and following this idea, I look forward to a time when more lesbian identities are explored here.


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