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  • Writer's pictureDiego Tomasino

The Rainbow Revolution

"Armed with the rainbow flag, symbol of human diversity, they are revolutionizing one of the most sinister legacies of the past. The walls of intolerance are beginning to crumble. This affirmation of dignity, which dignifies us all, arises from the courage to be different."

Eduardo Galeano

It was an ordinary Saturday, like any other. That night I didn´t feel like going out but my friends insisted, so at 2 am I was already at the bar with a drink in my hand and a winning attitude. I saw him come to talk to my best friend with a made-up excuse, one of those that are so lame that they bring out a smile automatically because we cannot think that are still being used these days.

Two days later we had our first date, in a place that was well above our budget, but we had to bet for the sake of love, right? You can see that the investment was worth it because one month later we were living together. After a year and a half, we got engaged and soon after we got married in Argentina.

I still remember that day as if it were today: the nerves, the anxiety, our amazing tuxedos, the incredible speech that the Judge did to us, the ceremony, the entrance to the party, our family and friends, the eternal dance. Without hesitation it is the happiest day of my life.

Then along came the trips (#365daysofgaytravel), the relocations, the new projects, the idea of starting a family... Until then I think it would not differ much from the story of my parents, or yours. The only difference is that this story is of two men. Of two gays happily married under the protection of the Argentine law, who had lived in Panama for almost 9 years., and now living in Miami.

When one begins with the odyssey of coming out of the closet, one goes from the point of exaggerated guilt (guilt with their parents, with their family and friends, with God, even with oneself), to the other extreme where one thinks you can fight against the society with an iron armor decorated with glitter. And for a while that is possible ... until we meet that special person who turns our world upside-down, and now you have to start fighting for two.

I think we are not aware of what is marriage between two people of the same sex until the heteronormative world starts throwing patterns (or shade) to us that we cannot enjoy our love as two "normal" people (honestly, I don´t like to use that word, but just use it only for didactic purposes).

Today Panama, and several countries in Latinamerica, are in a dilemma that is cracking the social basis of respect and tolerance. The struggle between the church, the State and civil society is an endless spiral where only empty arguments are heard, which have very little consistent support. In the middle is the LGBTQ+ community and all those diverse families that do not fit into the traditional heteroparental nuclear family definition.

Even though now I am living in the US, my heart is still in Panama and Central America. As an activist, I believe it is my duty to show some of the daily events that people face every day in those countries. Facts that we have to accept as valid because our rights are not fully respected. Facts that justify why we are marching for:

  • After our honeymoon, when we returned home, in Tocumen (Panama airport) they told us that we have to fill out two customs declarations. Perhaps the person who goes by my side is not part of the "relatives who travel with you"? It seems not ... so I have to put a big "zero" in that box;

  • If my husband got sick or had an accident, I wouldn´t be able to accompany him in the first instance in a public clinic (even in some private ones) because he is not part of my “family” either, despite I know his blood type, his allergies and I am the only person he needs nearby to heal faster;

  • April arrives and as every taxpayer I should make my income tax statement. It will be another year that we will have to pay a little more than straight couples, because for the Tax Code my husband does not apply as a spouse;

  • Another point that I enjoy is the face of the medical or life insurance brokers. When one tells him that his partner (married or not) is a man, we automatically know that we will never receive the policy or that he will have an additional bonus for the big "X" that puts us in "possibility of infectious diseases";

  • And, is it necessary to highlight the example of having to apply for a mortgage? I think that many of you who are reading this went through a similar situation. Our partner, even though he or she is sitting in front of the bank officer, looks as if was wearing an invisibility cloak. The only way to have access to credit is to spend more than a thousand dollars to open a corporation, wait two years and apply with "my partner", so we can have an own roof where to live;

  • The lack of support in many of the companies, where LGBT + employees have their careers cut short due to their sexual condition, are discriminated without being able to develop their full potential or cannot make use of basic leaves such as marriage, parental or illness. Why should they use their vacations if they decide to get marry in Colombia or Mexico, when they could use their leave of absence for marriage?

  • The inability to talk about adoption. Having so many kids in need of affection, why deny them the possibility of having a family with two dads or two moms, and leaving them abandoned to the fate of the system until they turn 18?

  • The last example is something more personal ... we have been looking at the possibility of adopting or carrying out a process of surrogacy outside the country. One of the main complications is not money or finding a place to do it, but the legal obstacles of entering a country that does not accept marriage or adoption with our newborn. This was one of the main reasons why we left Panama.

These are just some of the situations that hurt us, beyond the typical daily situations to which as a community we have become accustomed: repressing our love, not being able to go hand in hand in the street, giving ridiculous explanations if we wear an engagement ring, accepting phrases like "but you do not seem gay". Or the faces of people when they find out that we are...

As a community we have already reached our state of social consciousness, and we have advanced in the union of our ideals. What we seek by supporting egalitarian marriage is not to destroy social bases. On the contrary, to support its solidification because a country cannot be considered homeland if great part of its population is excluded.

The motto of Panama since its conception is "pro mundi beneficio". The legislation of same-sex marriage is part of this vision, according to what is ruled by the International Court of Human Rights. Therefore, the country, if it still feels faithful to its original values, cannot turn its back on our LGBT+ community.

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