There was no mention of the rally in the local papers but a friend would later tell me that close to 250 people congregated at the Duarte Park in a show of LGBT public visibility.
This stood in contrast with organizers of an indoors LGBT issues symposium during that same week, some of whom privately argued against a public demonstration claiming it might be dangerous.
The events also were happening a few weeks after Santo Domingo authorities had shut down a couple of gay bars (which would later reopen after owners promised to abide with new curfew and sound violation regulations).
To my surprise today's Diario Libre reports that there was a 2nd LGBT rights rally at Duarte Park last night in commemoration of the NYC Stonewall riots of 1969. The paper doesn't give a specific number but says that dozens of people participated. It also says that gay men only showed up hours after the event began and that, for most of the afternoon, the reporter only saw female demonstrators. They carried signs and shirts that read "Soy lesbiana por que me gusta y me da la gana" ("I am a lesbian because I like it and that's the way I want it") and "Soy lesbiana y envio remesas" ("I am a lesbian and I send remittances" - an allusion, I assume, to the importance of money sent to the Dominican Republic from Dominicans living in the United States).
There are some supportive statements in the Diario Libre comments section including a woman named Martha Elizabeth who simply says "These types of demonstrations make me feel proud of being Dominican, to live in a country where people are tolerant and understanding."
Then there are also comments like the one from Jose Perez from Puerto Rico who says that these women should be spanked and given work to do or Lady from the Dominican Republic who says "My God, what a tremendous impudence has arrived in my country with these empty corrupt drug-addict jobless women that lack any dignity."
This reminded me of a message I got from Melvin Rosario of Las Odiseas de Burbujas earlier this month regarding a homophobic editorial that Listin Diario, one of the leading and most respected Dominican newspapers had just published. Melvin, who is from DR but lives in New York, was stunned that such a respected newspaper could publish such filth. The editorial titled "'Pajarerismo' televisivo" ("Televised 'faggotry'") reads in part:
It seems that someone has deemed that it's fitting for television "marketing" to use homosexuals, transsexuals, effeminates or "fags" as entertainment for the public or to promote cheap entertainment or political gossip, without measuring the impact that these frivolities can produce, especially among children and adolescents who, at their age, are defining their future models of behavior or conduct...Since the publication of the editorial on June 11th, 2007, Melvin, whose blog is written in Spanish, also noticed that Listin Diario followed up the editorial with two articles on June 12th corroborating the views in the editorial. In both, psychologists are quoted as stating that one had seen an 11-year-old kid turn gay after watching some television shows while another expressed concern for Dominican youth in what he saw as the increasing phenomenon of "confused" and effeminate kids.
What is apparent is that there exists a contest to see who can demonstrate the most deviant skills; who is the most "gilry" of all and who can bend the most [in order to] charm, attract or seduce others, specially those who continue to hide in the "closet" and haven't realized that they can now go on air, pushed by the small winds, and rise with all their feathers to the most vapid spaces of daily vacuousness, because today's television is already open for "ellas" [the gender specific word for "them" referring to women meant to be a derogatory dig at gay men].
So here at Blabbeando, we salute these beautiful women who were willing to show their face proudly last night on the streets of Santo Domingo. If that isn't the true spirit of gay pride, then I don't know what is.