Costa Rica decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults in the 1970s. Since then, a series of legal rulings, on a judicial as well as administrative level, have turned things around for Costa Rican lesbians and gay men.
The Costa Rica constitution makes the Catholic Church the official state religion (church and state is not separated in Costa Rica), and about 80% or more of the country is Catholic. So, you can imagine where the gay lifestyle sits in their eyes. Gay Costa Rica citizens are still fighting their straight counterparts so they can... continue reading by clicking here...
michael alan's Blog - Tuesday, February 17, 2009
There is a BIG difference between traveling Costa Rica as a gay man or couple, than actually BEING a gay man or couple LIVING here.
I gotta tell you, our videos end up on a lot of different websites, some not so nice…but I digress.
But, we get quite a few comments on our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos; and one in particular- the video pertaining to gay travel in Costa Rica. Our belief, and it’s well substantiated, is that Costa Rica takes Clinton’s, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for military gays, one step further- culminating in, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Don’t ACT’…… GAY in Costa Rica. Most Costa Ricans have the exact same attitudes toward gay folks as the majority of North Americans held back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Read that as- ‘IT’S A SIN.’ However, it should be noted; Ticos are some of the nicest people on the planet, and wouldn’t normally think about discriminating you to your face. We’ll get back to that later.
For this post:
*Acting gay does NOT mean swishing your ass back and forth with a pink boa draped around your neck. For this article, ‘acting gay’ is defined as hand-holding and any other public displays of affection that straight persons would enjoy without fear of repercussion. Seriously, WTF does acting ‘gay’ mean anyway? Are you acting ‘straight’? So, it’s an act? If acting gay is swishing your ass and talking with a lisp, then acting straight must mean tight jeans, leather jacket and saying “Fuck” a lot. Could these be stereotypes? Ummmmmm.
Back to the ‘Comments’ on our ‘gay’ travel video. Many gays that live here in Costa Rica voiced that we should act as ‘gay’ as we want ‘OUT’ in public; as that’s the only way the country will eventually change its attitudes and views regarding homosexuals. That is indeed true, but it won’t be at OUR expense. The most effective ‘POSITIVE’ impact will come from gay Ticos themselves. As gringo’s living here, we are not viewed as real citizens (and WE'RE not), and in fact, would come across like we’re ‘pushing’ our gayness where it’s not wanted, which also won't win any points. Although I do realize BEING who you are in public, does help to some degree shed some of the misconceptions with some folks. But therein lies the problem.
A Brief History: We live in La Fortuna, and most people know we’re ‘those gay gringos who live next to the park,’ and we do get left alone. It should also be noted, we’re not HUGE fans of public displays of affection by ANYONE, but I’ll admit it would be nice to stroll around the park, or anywhere for that matter, holding hands, or stealing the occasional kiss (ok, we’ve done it a few times,,,whatever). Somewhat ironic- Tico’s LOVE to ‘make-out’ in public, and often appear to be about 2-seconds from ‘fuckin’ at any given time. The other irony, La Fortuna is home to an unusually high number of gay Ticos- closeted, but numerous nonetheless.
You’ll frequently hear many other gay, expat gringos say they’re ACCEPTED by their ‘straight’ Tico friends, or in the community in general in which they live. This is probably true, but only because the gay couple in question, act in public, as if they’re merely friends. I gotta million bucks saying unless you knew they were gay, and you might, you wouldn’t necessarily KNOW they were gay. Knowing ‘gay’ and seeing the act of ‘gay’ are entirely two different things- know what I mean? So they fulfill the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and especially the Don’t ACT’ policy to a tee. So why wouldn’t they be accepted. Let them start ‘acting gay’ and rest assured, things would be quite different very quickly. Flaunting your gayness in Costa Rica will NOT get you an invitation to Christmas dinner at the mother of your ACCEPTING Tico friend. Will they discriminate against you to your face? Maybe, maybe not, but PLEASE, Ticos, as I’ve mentioned, are among the nicest people on the planet, but they can also become quite passive/aggressive when it comes to such moral issues. You WILL BE discriminated against in the most subtle of ways- bartenders become a little slower (not sure that’s possible here), paper work remains at the bottom of the stack a little longer, more mean-spirited stares by resident rednecks, whispering, and you surely won’t see a Christmas ham from your friend’s mother.
Personally, we’ve been blatantly discriminated against, in probably the most popular restaurant in La Fortuna, Don Rufino’s. It was U-G-L-Y. One of the owners had no problem loudly voicing his dislike and disdain of “us GAYS” in front of about 15-20 patrons. And take my word for it, not one person had the guts to stand with US- Ticos or Gringos, friends or not. We have NEVER set foot in their AGAIN.
What is TRUE, if you’re ONLY visiting Costa Rica, gay couples can often get away with MUCH MORE gay-like behavior. Tico’s just figure it’s those ‘CRAZY, GAY, GRINGOS,’
“Let’s at least get their money before they swish back to where ever it is they came from.”
So, if you hold hands walking down La Fortuna, hey, locals may not say a thing. Personally, I don’t believe it’s worth the risk. It’s the same reason we would tell you to drink bottled water. So, we stand-by our Travel Tip of playing it cool as a gay person or couple visiting Costa Rica, with a couple of possible exceptions- San José and Manuel Antonio, and to a lesser degree, parts of Jacó and Puntarenas.
And don’t forget our Gay Costa Rica experiment in regards to the beaches here. We’re trying to do our part in our own way.
Just remember, why do you think 75% of gay Ticos are STILL in the CLOSET? The exact same reason it can still be difficult to 'come OUT' in the STATES- Matthew Shepard was NOT that long ago. And some of us are still uncomfortable with the possibility of losing our entire family- yeah, it really DOES happen.
Mine and D'Angelos Video: Gay Traveler vs. Living GAY in Costa Rica. Hope it Helps!