Queer Backpacker – Latin America

Hey my name is Courtney and I’m queeeeeer! It’s something I don’t talk to everyone about, but it’s Pride Month! *rainbows* What a perfect time to share with the world a little about my queer story and queerness in Latin America.

My Story

I say queer because that’s the label, if any, that I like. I feel bisexuality is misunderstand and pansexuality is sort of a mystery. Gender isn’t something that is important to me while picking a mate. I’ve been attracted to both sexes as long as I can remember. I remember growing up and crushing on both girls and boys. Pretty much just wanting to kiss everyone. At some point in time I realized that kissing your girl friends isn’t exactly normal and I stopped. Then alcohol was introduced into my life at the age of 15 and all of a sudden it was okay to kiss girls again. In college, I finally put it all together, that maybe I like rainbows and gay people because I’m queer too! I came out to all my close friends. Pretty much from then on I started dating and pursuing anyone I am attracted to: men, women, trans– doesn’t matter! In the last couple of years I’ve started owning my queerness and talking about it more freely. *woot woot*

As a woman who likes all genders, I’m privileged in the way that there’s no real need for me to “come out.” I’ve only had serious relationships with men, so I don’t openly talk to my parents or family about my sexuality. It’s never come up. Besides the time my mom asked me flat-out if I like women a couple of months ago. She said she already knew the answer and she’s known for years. It was a weight off my shoulders that I didn’t realize existed. My partner always asked me why I’m not open about it to my mom. I talk to her about everything. Man, I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe I wasn’t ready.

In the back of my mind was this thought that bisexual females aren’t taken serious. I’ve encountered many gay women who are not open to dating bisexual women. We’re not even taken serious in our own community. Why would anyone else take me serious?

A year or so ago, I lived with a bisexual woman for a few months before moving in with Darien. It was the first time I was able to talk freely and openly to someone who actually understood me. Talking with her and meeting other bisexual women made me more comfortable and confident with my sexuality. Thank you to my queer friends in Chicago. And thank you to my bisexual sisters who were brave enough to go first and speak up on social platforms. You my hero.

Queer Travels

I’ve been traveling on and off for the past four years solely in Latin America. Why? Because it’s lovely here. I pretty much have a degree in Latin American backpacking (lol). My first few trips were solo, but this trip my boyfriend, Darien, was crazy enough to join me. While abroad, I find myself being more open about my queerness to strangers, acquaintances, really anyone. I feel a safe space between fellow travelers. I automatically assume if you are backpacking around the world, you must be somewhat open-minded.

Surprisingly, I’ve met only a few other queer travelers (but tons of queer locals!) A few months ago in Peru, I met a lesbian couple traveling together from Italy and Spain. I was so excited to talk to them. The Spaniard was a yogi and personal trainer. The Italian was very relaxed, a talented chef but didn’t claim it as her profession. They cooked vegetarian food together, didn’t party or drink. Pretty much the lesbian version of Darien and I. After getting to know them a bit, they shared their experiences traveling as a lesbian couple. They told me they lie and claim to be cousins or best friends most of the time. They usually stay in dorms and only get private rooms in more liberal cities. The Italian had traveled for months by herself before meeting up her girlfriend in Peru. Her and I laughed about how different it is traveling with a partner. Both wonderful and… difficult.

Latin America is very conservative as a whole, majority of citizens are Catholic. Gay marriage is not recognized in many countries (statistics below). I can’t imagine if Darien and I had to act like cousins while volunteering on the organic farm in Ecuador. Or pretend to be best friends depending on our Airbnb host. It can be a safety issue for same-sex couples.

A few maps of Latin America to show what’s going on currently:

Only a few parts of Mexico where same sex marriage is recognized AND performed. source: wiki

Central America is just plain disappointing. Your legitimate US marriages aren’t even recognized here. That seems problematic for traveling spouses. Same-sex relations are illegal in parts of Africa and the Middle East and get a lot more media coverage because of it. It seems like Central America is brushed aside. Central America really needs to step up their game and create laws for it’s citizens! source: wiki

Although Brazil is one of the countries who recognizes same-sex marriage, there is still an alarming problem with violence against LGBTQ. A reported 445 LGBTQ Brazilians died last year victim to homophobia. Same-sex marriage is banned in Bolivia and Paraguay. Paraguay does not have any laws protecting LGBTQ citizens. They are not protected against employment discrimination, housing discrimination, or discrimination in general. Legal change of gender is forbidden.  source: wiki

On a positive note, times are changing. In January, a Latin American human rights court called for the legalization of gay marriage throughout Latin America. It doesn’t force countries to change their laws but it pressures them to make the shift.

I’ve seen openly gay couples in just about every city in Latin America. Local men blatantly checking out my boyfriend. I’ve seen same-sex couples holding hands and laughing together on the street. For this reason I was stunned gay marriage and gay rights are still an issue here. My advice would be to always be aware of the current situation and politics. It’s best to do your research before entering the country. Your sexuality should not prevent you from traveling, but the more you more, the safer you will be. There are many blogs with meet-ups and tips on where to find gay clubs and bars in Latin America. Bogota, Colombia has the largest gay club in Latin America. Darien and I unfortunately didn’t go while in Bogota. Our Airbnb host left to go at 1am… and we were asleep by 10pm. On solo trips, I used Tinder to meet queer locals. There are many ways to find your community abroad!

We are here and queer in Latin America! Cheers! ❤

If you have any more advice, please share in the comments! I hope this information was useful in some way! This wasn’t the easiest blog to post, but something I’ve wanted to write about for awhile. I used to just stick to writing in my journal or in my IPhone notes about personal topics. I feel like another layer of myself has peeled off. My authentic self is slowly emerging. Thanks for following my journey and adventures! 🙂

If you love reading my blogs or are my friend/relative and feel an obligation to (lol), follow my blog and click ‘like’ underneath my post! Either way, thank you so much for reading!


2 thoughts on “Queer Backpacker – Latin America

  1. fakeflamenco August 14, 2018 / 5:57 pm

    Thanks for the overview of gay rights in Latin America. I am impressed at the graphics from Wiki. I adore Latin America.

    Liked by 1 person

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