In Cartagena, we met Jesus, who is an artist and a guide, who told us more about his gay life in Colombia and what it's like growing up by the coast in Barranquilla. Hey guys! I'm Jesus from Barranquilla in Colombia and I'm 29 years old. I grew up by the coast in Barranquilla and also in Cartagena.
The aim is to break the concept of the machismo culture and to embrace all different aspects of masculinity. Yes completely. First I came out to my friends when I was a teenager living in Barranquilla and then to my family in my early twenties. They were extremely supportive and weren't too surprised when I told them. When I was around 8 years old, I was bullied by a guy who was very sexual. For example he would choke and hit me and then try to kiss me. This scared me a lot, especially as it was my first sexual interaction with men, so it kinda messed up my view of what homosexuality was.
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Today I'm able to look back on this and laugh. One very sad story of homophobia I experienced was when I was 24 years old: I was friends with another guy who was from a small town near the coast of Colombia. We used to party together and hang out in Barranquilla. But suddenly one day I discovered he had been murdered! I knew this was a homophobic attack, but what made it even sadder was that when the story broke out in the local media, his family had altered the news to make it sound like his death was a result of gang violence.
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They didn't want society to know he was gay and that this had been a homophobic attack. They were ashamed of it and wanted to hide this side of him. I was so shocked and it completely broke my heart. At the same time it inspired me to take a more proactive approach within our LGBTQ community to raise awareness and prevent something like this from ever happening again! It was harder when I was younger, mainly because there was a lack of decent gay role models that I could relate to in the media. If there were any, they'd be more clown-like characters, such as an over-the-top super camp hairstylists.
Nowadays we have many more gay icons in the media and not limited to exaggerated stereotypes. This has raised awareness massively of the gay community to show society that we are very normal. In addition, we now have access to the international press via the Internet, YouTube etc, which wasn't as prevalent when I was growing up.
So for a young gay boy growing up in Colombia today, his awareness of what homosexuality is is not limited to bad stereotypes, and he'll see, for example, what it's like living as a gay man in San Francisco or Madrid and he'll realise that's what he wants to aspire to. So whatever happens in the States, we are heavily influenced by it here.
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During the Obama years, there was a lot of progressive change for the LGBTQ community in the USA, which positively impacted on us, culminating in our equal marriage laws being passed in This was the main online gay dating website in Latin America and it was so huge that you could find people close to or even inside your own city. Now, everyone uses gay dating apps like ManHunt and Grindr.
I love the gay scene of Bogota , especially Theatron club. It's huge — a paradise for the gay boys. I also love the gay scene of Medellin , which has a fun gay club called Viva. The largest ones are in Bogota and Medellin. My favourite gay festival in Colombia is the Halloween fiesta that take place in Bogota.
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