Comments on Orlando and Gay Pride from Nicaragua

Coherence, activism and fear

By Carlos Corrales  (Confidencial)

Carlos Corrales
Carlos Corrales

HAVANA TIMES — I’d never really got fully involved in the fight for Human Rights, especially the rights of the sexually diverse community, which, of course, are the same rights every other community in our society has.

As a result of the recent massacre that took place at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, where 50 people died and 53 people were injured, I felt like getting involved wasn’t just an option, but my duty, especially as a homosexual.

The recent events haven’t just upset me; they’ve caused me great pain. I even stopped talking about what happened, just for a moment, because it made me feel vulnerable. Then I began to think about the ways in which I could become more active in the struggle for our rights. I felt like a post declaring my pain on social media wasn’t enough, which is what most people do nowadays.

I decided that the first thing I had to do was to get involved in public protests when hate crimes in our country were denounced, where we demand that our rights are met and respected. LGBTI Pride, which will take place in Nicaragua on Tuesday June 28th, will be my first initiative.

I immediately thought that I was extremely lucky to have such a wide network of contacts including artists, reporters and influential figures, many of whom are homosexual. When inviting them to the parade, I also took the opportunity to ask them to spread awareness about the event on their social media, where they have a large base of followers.

Many of the responses I got surprised and upset me. A close friend of mine, whose brother is gay, told me they were with me from the heart. “But getting mixed up with gays isn’t my thing,” she added. Prejudice trumps fraternal love and friends, I thought to myself.

A gay friend of mine didn’t want to promote the parade on his social media. He didn’t want to promote “this thing”, he assured me. Other friends and acquaintances, who have a great platform and audience, claimed they had too many other things to publish recently and that they weren’t sure whether they’d be able to or not, others said maybe and some of them just didn’t bother replying.

I went from being sad to annoyed.

Foto: Caridad

I can never get my head around the irony that separates one social cause from another, when at the end of the day, all of them are founded on claiming justice, equality, love and a better world. Why is it easier to publicly support other causes than this one? Many people have said to me “I support gay people”, but when you ask them to actually get up and do something, by spreading awareness about a march, or even going to a march, only a few are willing to use the influence they have over the people who listen to them.

Don’t get me wrong, I rejoice every time I see reporters, artists and celebrities band together and champion all kinds of noble causes. However, there are very few people who openly support LGBT rights. “They’re afraid of ‘being labeled’,” my friend said. What do you mean by be lableled? Getting involved with an important cause, like respecting individual rights, is getting labeled? I don’t understand it.

It’s hard for me to believe that we end up ignoring important issues, just to avoid conflict with other people. It’s also hard for me to understand when we see our fellow people as “others”, so we don’t feel like the problem is ours, mine. We condemn the Orlando massacre, but what about everything we still have to do here? Should we just turn a blind eye to the violence that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people experience here in Nicaragua? And what about principles? Is it more important to remain popular and have everyone’s approval than to stand up for our principles?

Every citizen in society should feel it’s their duty to stand up for human rights to be respected for everyone. I believe that celebrities, because they are blessed with a platform, are able to hold more influence over society. It’s therefore important to reflect upon the power they hold to sway opinion. So why don’t they support the LGBT community, the same people who show their support for each and every one of them?

I’m a little calmer now. I wonder whether writing about this will have any impact. Will it make anyone else join our fight? Make anybody think about it at least? I really don’t know. Moreover, I don’t know what people think about this subject. This silence, and lack of coherence, sounds like fear to me. We’re very afraid here in Nicaragua. Fear of how people perceive us. We’re worried about not being publicly accepted. We have homophobia locked up inside us. Neither do we want to accept we’re afraid. It seems that myths and prejudice overcome truth and justice.

Judging and getting annoyed with people doesn’t help. Fear is a giant. I’ve written these words with love. This past event has stirred up so many emotions inside me and at the same time, it’s made me think about this topic from a lot of different perspectives. I can’t judge and sentence anyone; all I can do is to invite them to look deep within themselves. How many of us want a more just world? How many of us are coherent with both our actions and our thoughts? How many of us are willing to get involved? We still have a lot to do if there are still people who don’t want to risk sharing a simple poster on their social media, inviting people to an event, which a lot fewer people would go to because they’re afraid about what people might think.

The author is a hairdresser.

LGBT Pride takes place on Tuesday 28 June at 4pm in Managua.