Kisses can have all sorts of intensities and intentions, but today kisses will imply a protest cry. At 10 am, outside Guayas’ Provincial Court in Guayaquil, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people will gather for a “public kiss” to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Lía Burbano, president of the Lesbian Association “Mujer y Mujer,” says the ‘public kiss’ is about making themselves visible, and getting people to recognize them.
“Public spaces are the only place where we can show others that we are a part of the population.”
Even for those who don’t choose to kiss, being there and being visible is a way to resist mainstream society, she says “The system forces us to think that heterosexuality is what is ‘correct.’ Although the Constitution recognizes a variety of sexual orientations, discrimination is pervasive.”
Not all LGBTQI organizations will participate in the public kiss, though. Ana Almeida, from the Transgender Project, says she doesn’t think being able to kiss in public changes anything. She also says she’s against “ghettoising” differences: “I’m of the mind that diversities should coexist, instead of creating segregated spaces.”
María Amelia Viteri, and investigator at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Quito says that in her city there is more tolerance than there is in Guayaquil. “People with diverse sexual orientations have felt comfortable in the capital city, but in Guayaquil they are warned not to express their affection in public.”
Juan Carlos Masabanda says it depends on the day and the neighbourhood. The coordinator of Fundacion Equidad (Equality) says even in Quito, he knows someone who was laughing outside with his boyfriend, and a security guard warned them to “stop cackling like hags.”