Monday, July 03, 2006

Blackface at Bogota Pride + Latin American Pride 2006

Some cities throughout Latin America celebrated gay pride this weekend including Santiago, the capital of CHILE, which observed it's first ever gay pride march and rally which drew 10,000 and a smaller "kiss-a-thon" which drew 1,500, according to some estimates. It was also a celebration of sorts for Chile's leading LGBT advocacy organization, MOVILH (which has a press release and a list of additional Spanish language coverage here), which is turning 15 years old this year [NOTE: That it was their first ever pride parade came as a surprise since back in September I had reported on another public LGBT demonstration in Chile which I thought was part of their observation of LGBT pride and now is apparent that it was just a public celebration of a decision by Chile's Education Ministry to adopt sexual-orientation non-discrimination language in the standard high-school sexual education curriculum].

AFP reports that close to 1,000 congregated and marched in VENEZUELA's 6th Annual LGBT pride celebration.

This is the same number of participants in Lima's LGBT pride celebrations in PERU according to
this AP article.

Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA, observed a trans-rights march which called for the elimination of "
repressive legislation" (Comunidad Homosexual Argentina, the country's largest LGBT advocacy organization, which organizes a larger LGBT pride parade in the fall, was not listed as a sponsor). also reports of pride marches in PARAGUAY and URUGUAY.

In the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, participants did not march or rally but observed an end to the week-long indoor Human Rights Forum with the launch of a national coalition of a "GTH Alliance." El Nacional says that the goal of the Alliance, which would bring together HIV-service organizations and gay organizations in the Island nation, would be to "identify the issues that link HIV/AIDS and homosexuality, to coordinate national actions by gay, bi and trans men and other men who have sex with men, and to develop resources and tools to serve populations affected by the epidemic and to promote human rights to reduce risks in these populations."

Although they also called for a separation of church and state and for efforts to make the LGBT community in the Dominican Republic more visible, the language of the resolution betrays the fact that most of the event seemed more an HIV-prevention and treatment intervention rather than an LGBT rights, mobilization or visibilization effort which explains, to some degree, why there is no mention of the gay bar raids and closings of a couple of weeks back.

Finally, Bogota also saw 10,000 people march through the streets of the capital of COLOMBIA (other Colombian cities observed smaller pride parades as well). This was the 10th annual LGBT pride march which "El Tiempo" indicated converted it into an annual tradition while stating that the massive turn out was due to the fact that there was much to celebrate, including a mostly ceremonial statement released by Bogota's Mayor, Lucho Garzon, which said that the city will officially respect the rights of the LGBT community (a Bogota locality, Chapinero, had also announced earlier that they would provide institutional support for the launch of an LGBT Center while in Medellin, the city council adopted a "Public Policy for the Prevention and Attention of the Sexual Violence" affecting the LGBT community.

At the above links you might find photos of the different events which show the usual drag-queens, rainbow flags and gathered multitudes. I was particularly struck by the three pictures above of participants at Bogota's LGBT pride march
(from a photo gallery by Roger Triana at El Tiempo's link above).

I'm uncertain how and when Colombia adopted some of the blackface imagery that used to be prevalent in the United States during the last century and is mostly considered racist and defamatory nowadays in the United States (with some exceptions, which include a famous black US drag performer who has championed a certain comedian who uses blackface to make fun of blacks who is featrured in said drag performer's new CD)

Now, Colombia has not undergone a black civil rights movement process as the United States has, which is why I am often shocked by the racism I see on Colombian television, society and culture whenever I go back (considering the fact that there is a large black and mestizo community, particularly in the coasts). What makes it more insidious is that it's not self-consciously racist but simply accepted as mindless caricatures and sometimes even embraced by blacks in Colombia (something that unfortunately is not restricted to Colombia but also other Latin American countries).

LGBT organizations in Colombia have openly participated in recent demonstrations calling for a stop to racism and protections for the civil rights of black communities in Colombia (as a matter of fact, Piedad Cordoba, a leading Senator in calling for the recognition of civil union rights for gay couples in Colombia is herself black and also a leader in the country's black-rights movement).

In any case, it is painful that on a day when I should celebrate that more than ten thousand people filled the streets of Bogota calling for the recognition of LGBT rights, some saw it fit to celebrate by using some of the racist blackface costume imagery.


Anonymous said...

really interesting.. especially the bit abuot blackface. I just linked you to my blog :) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.
This kind of caricature of both Blacks and gays (effeminate, screaming queen hairdresser types) is also common in Mexican media.

(P.S. This is Sangroncito, now "El Güero"! "Sangroncito's World" is gone but my new blog "Razing Borders" is up and running)

Anonymous said...

I've seen quite a bit of blackface drag on tv in Puerto Rico as well. Like so many other Latin Americans, we like to pat ourselves on the back between belly laughs and say we're not racist -- oh no, not us -- and that it's all just for fun.

Anonymous said...

thank you for pointing out the 'blanqueismo' of the latin identity. Unfortunately , in much the same ways as we express internalized homophobia , internalized racism is expressed and condoned under the context of cultural acceptance. "Its just who we are and what our people do." It's not. Its racist. There has not been a movement in Colombia or in many a Latin nation. Hopefully , both the LGBT and racial awareness/appreciation movements can link under the umbrella of a full appreciation for what it is to be Latino , i.e , roots from Europe , Africa and the Caribbean. Mil Gracias.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Bogota, but i have lived in the United States for several years.. the thing about black faces, black bodies do not have anything to do with racism. it is not like in the united states that you cannot say the word black or nigger, becuase you are bitten up. For us it is part of our identity, it reflects the songs and roots of our music with the sounds of drums. it has to do with the hapiness and energy that the whole culture mix has brought with it. It is a ritual.... you just have to enjoy it a live with it. and Remember latinos just enjoy life, we are to make friends, conections.... no just looking how to divide the world.

Anonymous said...

Hola Andres Duque. Mi nombre es Roger Triana, tan solo escribo para dejarle saber que yo no tome las tres fotos que aparecen en su blog. Si estuve en la marcha lgbt tomando fotos para el periodico El Tiempo, pero creo que las que ha publicado en su blog son de David Osorio, un colega del periodico.
Att: Roger Triana

Angelo Martinez, LMT said...

That is beyond disturbing but as a moreno I can't say that I am surprised.

Anonymous said...

"What makes it more insidious is that it's not self-consciously racist but simply accepted as mindless caricatures and sometimes even embraced by blacks in Colombia"

That's because it's not racist or offensive in their culture. Why do outsiders travel to a place and impose their cultural values on others? There is no such thing... no context of "Black Face" in Colombian culture. Dressing up in an over-the-top costume of the colorful ladies of Cartagena is no different than dressing up like a Geisha or colonizer. I don't know if the Author is American, but Americans always impose their ideals of racism and justice on the world. I don't expect well-traveled folks to be so narrow-minded. Learn to see and understand cultures from their lens, not your politically correct, one-size-fits-all lens.

Blabbeando said...

Nope, 'anonymous', I am very much Colombian.