How do the various experiences of LGBTQ+ people in Latin America compare to those in Seattle?

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By Anabel L. Lena M. and Sumeya B. 

How Do The Various Experiences of LGBTQ+ People In Latin America Compare To Those In Seattle?

A little about our Catalyst Project.

Our SpanishProject

I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life, so I’ve always been surrounded by a welcoming community and city that openly celebrates diversity and pride. For example, every June since 1974, the city has hosted a pride parade through Downtown Seattle. In the early years, Seattle’s parade was small, but according to Ana Sofia Knauf from The Evergrey, “Our city’s Pride March has come a long way, from a small group of pioneers to a massive parade that draws in thousands of people” (The Evergrey). Our families, mine and Anabel’s, have been part of the parade for years, and this shows how Seattle’s pride fest has grown from a small community event to one for people of all ages and backgrounds. Our Seattle community is made up of so many wonderful people, and the contributions that LGBTQ+ members of this city have made to our history and community are integral to Seattle’s culture. Seattle is just one city; for our project, we studied how culture and community shape LGBTQ+ experiences on a global scale.

Photo by Lena M.

Learning About

The LGBTQ+ Latinx Experience

Photo by @razrknf3

Sacha Fernandois

Non-binary Activist

During our research, we explored how Catholicism and Pope Francis’s recent support of the LGBTQ+ community has and hasn’t influenced the homophobia present in some religious spaces and communities, as well as the strength and power that Latinx activists have developed with each other. These articles detailed generational experiences from older and younger members of the LGBTQ+ community and were shown through many different long and short-form reflections and journalistic pieces. What we found from our readings was that the experiences and discrimination non-binary Latinx folks faced were different from those of same-sex couples.

Te denominan por el género que tu pareces ser. Porque cuando hablas de no binariedad, la gente suele pensar en androginia inmediatamente, y cuando tu no representas eso, la gente te asigna un género.

Paly Valentin,
Identidades No Binarias: relatos de personas que escepan de la normatividad de genero
Photo by Samantha Monero

“There’s a lot of young Latino LGBT people out there who are afraid to come out because of rejection from their churches, their families, their friends,”

Catherine Pino, It’s Hard To Tell La Familia You’re Gay

Identidades no binarias: Relatos de personas que escapan de la normatividad del género

 Paly Valentin and Sasha Fernadois are two young non-binary people from the Latinx community, and their experiences as nonbinary people had many similarities. Since the two of them were very little, they knew that they didn’t identify with the gender that society assigned them. For Paly, it was hard growing up as a child because their culture was associated with hyper-feminine and masculine qualities. As a child, Paly described how they never identified with either extreme and within their culture, this was seen as a negative, which has made it hard for Paly to live their life free from the external stigma surrounding gender fluidity in their culture. 

This article highlighted that even spaces that are seen as welcoming for LGBTQ+ people are not always safe spaces to be out in. Paly Valentin experienced very harsh reactions from many cis women involved in the feminist movement, who tied oppression and womanhood directly to what is considered female body parts in society. Though feminism is generally considered a safe space for LGBTQ+ people, many aspects of the movement itself are ripe with transphobic undertones and messages, for Paly this was alarming and unsettling to see happen in a movement that was supposedly breaking free from patriarchal norms.

La Compleja Realidad De Ser Gay En América Latina

The experiences of people living in Seattle are so different from the stories I read in an article titled, “La compleja realidad de ser gay en América Latina”. In one story, a man was arrested and beaten by the police just for his sexual orientation and the investigation of the case was not sufficient and did not consider his story to be important. Another one talked about how “en diciembre de 2016, Isabella Saturno y su pareja fueron reprendidas en un restaurante de Tony Roma en Caracas por ser «demasiado cariñosas»” (CNN). This quote explains how a woman and her partner were publicly reprimanded in a restaurant for “showing affection.” This is mind-boggling to me since so many people in my life are part of the LGBTQ+ community and can comfortably express themselves in public.

A Love Story True And True: Elisa y Marcella

The movie Elisa y Marcela is a story about two women, who fall in love in Spain during the late 1800s. In order to stay together as a couple, Elisa disguises herself as a man and tricks a priest into marrying them. The movie explores the reaction of the community when they discover the true nature of their relationship and shows the adversity that the lesbian couple faces. In a particularly violent scene, Elisa is stoned by her neighbors while walking through a forest, which shows the anger that the community feels towards the two women because of their sexual orientation. A couple of years later, while Elisa and Marcela are working as teachers in a different village, they arrive at school to a near-empty classroom after town gossip has led to everyone’s knowing that they are in a romantic relationship. The parents’ choosing to distance their young children from Elisa and Marcela supports the idea that lesbian people were viewed as immoral or wrong, so people did not want children to be exposed to them. This shows the fear, a product of heteronormativity, that the community felt surrounding a lesbian relationship.





Reenactment photo taken by Netflix, Original photo taken by José Sellier 

Based On A TrueLoveStory

Elisa Loriga and Marcela Ibeas’s  marriage is considered to be the first same-sex marriage in Spain. Unfortunately, many critics hold the opinion that the movie fails to do the real-life story justice. The most common criticism is that the movie lacks passion, so it is difficult for the audience to form an emotional connection to the characters and feel the intensity of the scenes. Some also take issue with the fact that Marcela becomes pregnant with Andrés’s baby in order to make the ruse of Elisa being a man more credible. This is hard to believe because Andrés, a towns-person who discovers Elisa and Marcela dancing together in a romantic way, explicitly shows his disapproval of Elisa and Marcela’s relationship throughout the movie.


What We Learned 


Photo by Anabel L.

This discrimination is the reality of many people in not only Latin American countries but also other parts of the United States and the world. I feel so grateful to live in Seattle, but it’s also important for me to understand my privilege (of my city, but also having a family and school who gets involved with events such as the pride parade and doesn’t discriminate against people for their sexual orientation) and realize that in comparison to other places, Seattle’s acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is not the norm.

Violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people are still rampant all around the world, and in many places, it’s not safe for people to come out and be who they are. The first step in fighting against this homophobia is to spread awareness, start a conversation, and fight these prejudices. Below are ways you can get involved and help fight acts of hate speech, violence, and homophobia of today. Please click the Padlet Below for our list of resources and ways to help, we encourage you to add your own suggestions and spark a dialogue with us below in the comments! 


Made with Padlet


  1. Hi everyone! This is Sumeya, we would love to open up a friendly dialogue in the comments; here are some questions to start off:
    Is there a large LGBTQ+ support system/network within your own city/neighborhood?

    If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, (and are comfortable opening up) what has your experience been in your city? What support do you or other LGBTQ+ people need from others/their communities?

    What are ways that we as young people can fight homophobia and acts of hate?

    How can we work to combat prejudice as a group?

    What about as an individual?

    Or anything else you would like to add!

  2. Hey Anabel,

    I really liked how you both compared and contrasted the experiences of members of the LGBTQ community in Seattle and Latin American communities. I think it really inspiring how you are raising awareness of the hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. Even though there has been a lot more acceptance of the LGBTQ community we still have a long way to go to combat this issue. My question for you is how do you think Latin American and American societies better the livelihood of individuals in the LGBTQ community?

  3. Anabel, Sumeya, and Lena,
    You did a great job on this project. I find the contradictions inherent in a community 86 feminists who can’t step out of their own transphobic prejudices particularly troubling.

  4. Hi Sumeya, Anabel and Lena,

    I really enjoyed reading your website. I currently live in Latin America (Brazil) and many people around me growing up and just in general have been openly part of the LGBTQ+ community. As a response to your first question about what systems have been placed around me in efforts to support LGBTQ+ folks, thankfully I grew up with very open minded and supportive parents, friends and family in general. In school, we have begun implementing more open environments to not only talk abut heterosexual relationships, but homosexual ones too. I definitely believe the process has been rather slow comparing to European and North American systems, but I have seen valuable progress within the last few years. However, as you said in your webpage, there is still a lot of discrimination within our continent and I believe that is still a huge issue we have to work on as a community. Building more safe places for the LGBTQ+ youth with that, education is also a key factor we have to tackle. Thank you for the question and great work!

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