Planning Stages, Summer 2013, LGBT couple & safety information request
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Dec 9, 2012 9:09 AM Last Post By: sanandresislander
Dec 6, 2012 12:07 PM
Planning Stages, Summer 2013, LGBT couple & safety information requestI am writing this thread to inquire about safety information or advice for planned Summer 2013 travel in Colombia. Let me begin by saying that I am a doctoral student at a major U.S. university planning this personal trip to lay a foundation for future field research to complete my doctoral work. I am an open & fully adjusted homosexual man in a committed long-term relationship.
My question is about recent level of safety & protection for LGBT foreigner and Colombians. I know, for instance, that an LGBT traveler is much more likely to 'be safe' when traveling alone. I have yet to travel to Latin America with my partner, and am planning to do so this summer. We may be accompanied by a heterosexual female colleague of mine at my university. So, in that event we would be a more "mixed" group. However, the concern for both my individual safety and the safety of our group (mainly my partner) are foremost on my mind.
I have experience traveling in Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. But again, all of these previous travels have been without an accompanying partner. I want to be able to enjoy my time both personally and as a pair while in Colombia, but I would like to inquire as to particular cultural/social norms as well as reasonable expectations for assistance if trouble should find its way into my trip.
For instance, I know that in Mexico, Costa Rica and to a lesser extent Chile there is an expectation that LGBT couples are expected not to "present" themselves as such in public, or publically display affection to one another. I wanted to know if this was the case also in Colombia and which areas, cities, or contexts to which this "rule" may apply.
My Colombian friends and a couple of colleagues have told me that there is "nothing to worry about" especially in larger or mid-range cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena or Bucaramanga. I am also rather familiar with the "conservative" aspect of Colombian society such as significant conversational formality and respect for positions of authority/elders. However, I assume that we will be traveling to less populated and more rural areas as well either on this trip or future trips. Also, just because there are "tolerant zones" in these cities does not necessarily mean that all people living in these cities have the same perspectives on these matters.
The reason that I am posting is in anticipation of how I am going to explain safety measures to my partner. He is a rather prominent American artist who for better or worse is rather uninterested in adhering to informal social norms against us holding hands in public or other mild forms of display of our relationship to one another. I wouldn't go as far as to claim that these potential acts would be "public displays of affection" but then again this might be a function of the fact that our relationship is homosexual rather than heterosexual in nature. In other words, a double standard.
I wanted to get more information on the matter, and rely less on the opinions of my Colombian colleagues due to the potential for their bias to cloud their advice. Any information or advice on whether or not this "double standard" should be expected in Colombia (as it is in SOME other South American countries); what to do when/if this occurs; and what potential) existing protective measures are in place when we get there would be greatly appreciated.
Edited by: dvhugh3s
Dec 6, 2012 1:06 PM
1Generally speaking, urban Colombians are more tolerant towards LGBT. On the other hand rural Colombians tend to consider any foreign male as somehow marica (slang for male gay) in the meaning they appear to them as not following the local customs of how a man should behave. So the fact to see 2 gringos holding hands would just confirm this fact to them :)
Anyway, if you and your boyfriend choose to show publicly your affections you should expect looks and comments (good or bad): Colombians don't really care about hiding what they think!
I'd listen to what your Colombian colleagues tell you: they know their country.
Dec 6, 2012 2:32 PM
2"...For instance, I know that in Mexico, Costa Rica and to a lesser extent Chile there is an expectation that LGBT couples are expected not to "present" themselves as such in public, or publically display affection to one another. I wanted to know if this was the case also in Colombia and which areas, cities, or contexts to which this "rule" may apply...."
If you display affection with your partner in, say, a bus in Bogotá (the city I know the best), some people would look at you weirdly or giggle, others won't care, and it's also possible some madman would insult you (but is also possible that, if that happens, the guy would be booed by others).
As kanka says, it wouldn't be surprising you receive looks and comments, but people in big cities don't get to physical violence against gay people from what I know.
sorry for bad English.
Dec 9, 2012 9:09 AM
3Here on San Andres Colombia the local population believe homosexuals are mentally ill therefore tolerate gays on that assumption but you will draw unwanted attention and be bother by the police if you are showing displays of open affection. If you stay in the populated tourist areas you should have little trouble but away from those areas you take your chances.
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