Story published here: https://intomore.com/culture/portraits-of-pride-el-salvador
Pride March in El Salvador, June 30, 2018 https://intomore.com/culture/portraits-of-pride-el-salvador
Estrella, 30, trans woman: “I’m happy today, proud to be supporting the movement. I have support from my family. But people don’t respect us in the streets. Before it was even harder. When we were younger it was really hard, but things have been improving because the trans community has never stopped fighting. One one side, things are good in the sense that I have somewhere to live, but there’s almost no work because people discriminate against us. In interviews they’ll tell us no and then laugh at us, they tell us we are poorly dressed, that we’re ugly, but we keep trying.”
Stacy, 34, trans women: “I’m happy, I’m proud to be part of this party that is more than a party, it’s asking the Salvadoran government to respect our rights because we have rights because as humans, we have rights. We have a law dealing with trans identity that needs to be approved and we won’t shut up until we get it. This country has a debt to pay to us and they will recognize us.
I transitioned at 18. I wanted to study after, but I couldn’t because of my identity -- the schools wouldn’t let me in. My family is all good -- they support me and I love them for it. In society -- it’s a process. They hold on to the stereotypes they have of us. This holds us back from contributing as we can. They tell us we can’t have opportunities because we are “weird” but we are the same as them.
I’ve had a lot of problems with violence and discrimination. I really notice it when I go to the bank -- there’s always a problem with our documents because we look one way in the photo and another in life so they won’t serve us sometimes.”
Carlos Lara, 24, gay man: “I’m dressed like a cop because 7 police officers beat me up in March and arrested me. I was detained for three days. They came because a homophobic neighbor called and without any proof, the police started hitting me and took me. This is a form of protest — the number on my chest is one of the officer’s numbers. This wasn’t even the first time this has happened — it’s the third.
My father threw me out of the house when I came out — my parents are very Catholic. But I’m here with my Honduran boyfriend, happy and proud.”
Brandon Steven, 27, gay woman/drag king: “At 18, I came out, but I wanted to have a kid, so I slept with a man, because here they aren’t going to give people like us a child -- we’re gay, we’re poor. We are really discriminated against in this country. It’s everyday. We get on a bus and everyone stares and whispers, sometimes yells slurs at us. But you can’t win so I’m going to live my life the way I want, dress like a boy, cut my hair and be proud of who I am and who I’m with.
We met on the dancefloor in a bar where I’m a drag king. We’ve been together over a year. We are going to have our own wedding and I’m going to raise my child with her.”
Cristina, 19, gay woman: Since I was young, I knew. I never felt anything for men. When I met her, it freed me to be who I really was. This is a celebration.”
Willa, 32, gay man: “I love pride. It’s a chance to show off our creativity. I came out of the closet when I was 20. I’ve always had the support of my brothers, my mother, my job—I’m a journalist. I’m feel grateful for that. El Salvador has came a long way in terms of rights for gay people, but we have to remain united because there can be a lot of in-fighting within the LGBT community, and there’s still a lot of work to do.
I’m single and looking. I like masculine guys. But I don’t like to use the apps because they are dangerous. There have been cases in which people that use certain apps have been assaulted, so I don’t want to use them to find a boyfriend — it’s just not safe. I don’t go out looking for someone — through friends is always best.”
Bianka, 25, trans woman, director of trans rights organization, COMCAVIS TRANS: “Pride to my signifies living openly. Living in a world where difference is celebrated. Where having a different essence, different identity, sexual orientation is a good thing.
My job is everything to me. I defend the rights of people who can’t do it because this society attacks them. My fight is to raise their voice. I left my house because I was suffering violence from my biological mother, but I found a home in COMCAVIS TRANS who took me in in 2015, and I got a job working with them and they helped me take classes in graphic design and photography -- I eventually created the communications department.
With the violence it can be precarious, but the situation for LGBTQI people here has definitely improved -- we’ve had wins -- but we have a long long way to go. We are working on a law that recognizes transgender people.
There is a lack of conscious and a lack of education in our society -- people fear and hate what they don’t know. The LGBTQI community is more visible now but fundamentalist groups keep pushing out messages of hate. We’re going to win and I’m here to fight.”
Debora Penelope Gonzalez, 29, and Brithanny Alexa Luna Turqueza, 23, trans women: “For most of my life, I’ve suffered discrimination. I’ve had big problems with my family, in school, in finding work, on the streets with soldiers, with police, with gangs — that’s just how it is here for the trans and gay community for their whole lives.”
“The gangs are homophobic, anti-trans — it’s not a good situation for us. I’ve been shot five times, stabbed twice with an ice pick, been punched in the face. Police and soldiers have harassed me in the streets. I’ve had friends that the gangs have castrated with ice picks. The police and soldiers don’t do anything to protect us. They’ve thrown tear gas in our eyes, say that we are involved in drug trafficking, beat us up with their batons. But I’ve lived.”
Midnight the Light, 20, non-binary: “My gender is fluid for me -- sometimes I’m more masculine, sometimes more feminine, what matters is to express who I am in that moment. It took me about 7 years to accept it. It was bit-by-bit. And I really just accepted myself last year. It doesn’t bother my family, but they aren’t happy about it. They just try to ignore it. But I still dress up for holidays, sometimes to poke at them.
There have been great advances in short time for the LGBT community here. I really feel like although it can be hard, we are on the right path.
Mother and son: Daisy, 53 and Gustavo, 33, gay man/drag queen (name: Kattixa Falcheppy): Daisy: “At first it was so hard. I asked myself, “what did I do wrong? How did I fail to make him like this? But these were trials that we’ve overcome together. We spent long nights talking, understanding. And now we are so much closer and share so much more than if we never worked through it. My family didn’t accept him or me at first. But it didn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that our relationship as mother/son is good. Anyone who accepts him is welcome into our lives but for those who don’t -- there’s the door. The culture doesn’t readily accept the LGBT community, but acceptance needs to start with the family for the outside world to do so. If family rejects them, what can we expect He’s my son and I love him as is -- I go to all of his shows, I help him pick out his dresses, his props -- it’s fun. RuPaul’s Drag Race is now my favorite show.”
Ronald Ramos, 26, gay man and Kathlie Monroe, 22, trans woman:
“We’ve been together for 10 months. We met on instagram. We added each other, started liking each others’ posts, we started talking on Whatsapp, and then met in person.
We live together, and our families accept it — but not society. It’s really dangerous here. We have many friends who have migrated to the United States because of the violence and threats. You can’t be really be open in the streets, holding hands.
We haven’t tried, because nothing has happened to us because we keep a really low profile and are discreet. We are only open today and then if we go out at night to gay clubs — then we can be free.”