The Gay Situation in Nicaragua
I recently saw a question asked about the status of gay life in Nicaragua. Being that I am a gay expat that's been living here almost a year I think I'm finally qualified to answer this question.
Preface: Dirty word filter is on full bore, so if you see words in spanish it's because the spam filter didn't like them.
According to Nica Articulo 204:
"Anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes or practices in scandalous form sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomía and shall incur 1 to 3 years imprisonment."
The law was appealed in 1992. The supreme court denied the appeal 5 - 2 making the law enforcable on the grounds that "[t]o authorize the performance and freedom of sodomía would be a legal attack against the increase of the Nicaraguan population, a step back for its political, economic and social advancement, due to the lack of men and women to push Nicaragua’s progress forward. One cannot attack matrimony..."
In other news, that law was passed in 1992 and there's not a single person in jail under it. Prevailing thought (being that there's 3 gay bars in Managua) is that nobody really cares. Of course, because of how the law is worded, passing a pamphlet to someone on the street that talks about homosexuality could easily be considered sodomía, so there is some risk here.
So what's the real situation like? I find people here (liberal Estelí) to be more accepting of who I am than people in the states were, though I was in two rural towns in Oregon. Essentially when I first moved here I was incredibly cautious, because if someone has a grudge against me and they happen to find the right law enforcement officer that has a gringo grudge, or just in general hates gays, life could be hell for me pretty quickly. I have since come out to all kinds of people here and have not yet had a single person tell me I was going to hell or that I should be ashamed, or anything of the sort.
I also know a nice guy who lives in Masaya who's in his 20s and his parents love him to death. He described his coming out experience and they basically said, "I'm so sorry for you because I know it'll make your life harder, but you can't choose who you love, and if anyone ever gives you trouble, come talk to us."
I am only 2 hours away from Managua, so every sane gay above the age of 18 immediately disappears to the capital. The situation in Estelí at least is that there's the typical gay vacuum of people between 18 and 40, and then they come back to the nice places to live to settle down. Those gays I have found between the ages of 18 and 40 that are here seem to be stuck in a void of being permanently 14 in terms of maturity and adhere agressively to activo/passivo roles that emulate straight life more closely. In short I don't expect to find Mr. Right here.
The bottom line is that in a country where food is hard to come by for many, what a foreigner does in his/her bedroom makes no difference. Of course I'm not their son either. Those that I do talk to that are experiencing the weight of Nica christian upbringing and parental disappointment have mixed experiences, just like their counterparts in the states. I've talked to a 17 year old "bisexual" who would be defined as a flaming queen where I come from who kept saying, "God, nobody can find out about me or I just don't know how I'll ever live. I mean, yeah, my brother caught me having sex with a guy, but I don't think my family knows..." Yeah right. :-)
Check out http://www.nicagay.com (site is in Spanish) if you want to get in touch with the gay community in Nicaragua or learn more about it. (self promotion disclaimer: I'm the admin there)