Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dominican Republic: Gay pride 2008, pt. II

Amazing! Just two short years ago Dominican activists seemed divided as to whether the LGBT community in the Dominican Republic should celebrate gay pride away from public venues and stay indoors - or celebrate it out in the open and in the streets of Santo Domingo.

On Tuesday I reported on the seemingly impromptu LGBT pride march that took place at El Conde Street in downtown Santo Domingo on Friday, June 20th.

Now comes word that a second public gathering took place last night at the Duarte
Park (also in the downtown colonial zone) as congregations of mostly young people celebrated the end of this year's LGBT pride week (for some reason I suspect that my friend Daniel Castellanos was an inspiration).

Today's El Nacional says that most participants were members of The Gay-Transgender-Men Alliance (also known as the GTH Alliance) but also credited Amigos Siempre Amigos (RevASA) for organizing the event ("Gays bring to closure day of pride," June 29, 2008).

Daniel Benitez from RevASA told the paper that "To be gay, lesbian or transsexual in this country is a matter of courage, since day to day we see ourselves exposed to physical and verbal mistreatment, to indifference and to being harassed by the police, religious authorities and Governmental authorities, just as regular citizens that assume that because of our sexual orientation we are less of a people, less Dominican."

Harold Jiménez, also from RevASA riled against stereotypical portrayals of gays and lesbians in Dominican media and chided religious leaders for trying to tie a recent decision by California courts to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples to the emerging gay rights movement in the island. "Gay Dominicans do not have the marriage issue on our agenda," he said.

As during the June 20th march, many bystanders were surprised and shocked to see dozens of LGBT Dominicans waving rainbow flags and expressing their gay pride.

Marianela Gutierrez, for one, was delighted: "I am heterosexual and believe that people have the right to live their sexual orientation without restrictions," she said, "here we have too much double morality, people show up in the media defending morals and good customs, appearing saintly and in the end they end up in huts and brothels and not necessarily with their wives or husbands."

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