Richard Ammon,
Managua, Nicaragua
Update January 2015

As expected, the hub of LGBT activity is found in big cities so it was no surprise to find it in Managua the capital of Nicaragua. What was a surprise was finding so many LGBT organizations and finding them collected in one place. Thanks to Marvin Mayorga of IDSDH (Sexual Diversity Initiative for Human Rights), the leading activist group in Nicaragua, my work was made much easier as he introduced me to all four LGBT associations at once; a fifth group was located in another part of the city.

SurferThere is a rights group; a trans group; a lesbian group; and two HIV health outreach groups. Together they make up a central alliance called the Strategic Group for Sexual Diversity Rights (GEDDS)

The numbers are less important than the work they do to raise consciousness; they do it quietly behind closed doors as well as boldly outdoors. The day I visited the ‘gay ‘center’, volunteers from IDSDH were cutting up a huge ‘diversity’ billboard canvas after they had mounted it for a month in the city center as part of their publicity campaign to raise awareness of sexual varieties in Nicaragua. The sign displayed three life-sized pictures, one with a mother and her lesbian daughter, another mom with her trans M2F daughter and the third with her gay son. A diversity slogan under the images advocates that sexual diversity does not matter when it comes to family love.

It’s easy to stereotype Latin American countries as rough macho societies scowling at homosexuals for not being ‘real’ men. But a closer look reveals a very different underbelly regarding male Latino sexuality, a sexuality that pervades these mostly impoverished countries. Not seen in public is a free-floating urge to top, to penetrate, to receive pleasure and experience momentary power in a world where most are ultimately powerless. The unusual aspect of this behavior is that the gender of the ‘bottom’ partner is less important than the conscious feeling (and unconscious meaning) of the moment. Many Latino men will allow themselves a sexual encounter with another man but will not consider themselves at all to be gay because they were the ‘man’ on top. It’s an issue of power not gender.

Try telling that to North American purists.