Last December we got to host our friends Jon and Juan for a couple nights. It was SO fun! And what made it extra special was the fact that they were getting married on Dec 30th and we would be able to attend the wedding when we were back in Wisconsin for Christmas. huzzah!
I wanted to be nice (and have an excuse to take photos) so I offered to take a few engagement photos of them on the beach. We picked Combate Beach near Boqueron.
It started me thinking, how are gays treated here in Puerto Rico? I get the sense that there is a strong religious background here, which traditionally doesn’t always bode well for homosexuals. Would there be a reaction to us taking photos on the beach? I never thought of these things before. I didn’t need to. I decided to inquire.
The only gay Puerto Rican that I know (that I’m aware of) is our massage therapist in Cabo Rojo. She said she’s been with her partner for like, 20 years. And she’s really nice. She’d know the scoop.
I scheduled a massage in January, and started thinking about how to bring the topic up. You know, massages are supposed to be tranquil and relaxing. Usually I zone out and fall asleep. How do I just be like, “Hey, what’s it like to be gay here, huh?” I wondered if there’s a fine line between being annoying, nosey, and just plain dumb and asking genuine questions out of honest curiosity about my new home. It was her private life after all, and we were committed to being in a room alone together for an hour.
I decided to use Jon and Juan’s wedding as a starting point. Mentioning that it was really cool since they recently recognized gay marriage in Wisconsin and Madison is pretty liberal in that sense. And I wanted to take photos on the beach, so what’s it like here???
She was totally cool and open about talking. In fact, I didn’t even need to follow my little script in my head that I had prepared – haha. So here’s the scoop:
Puerto Rico is like everywhere else. There are haters, there are supporters. But incidentally there is a gay community in the area where we took the beach photos so it wasn’t really a big deal. She said people are used to it.
And this is exciting times for the Puerto Rican gay community because right now the bill to legalize gay marriage is in the Supreme Courts of Massachusetts. I guess when a case in Puerto Rico needs to go to higher court it goes to Boston. I might need another hour of massage and questioning to understand all this law stuff. (I don’t remember much from my American Public Policy class in high school except that my teacher sang Jingle Bells all year long).
Anyway, since Boston approved gay marriage and tends to be liberal (I’ve heard, I’ve never been), the Puerto Rican gay community is very hopeful. And I saw in the newspaper a few days later that we should have an answer by June-ish. Fingers crossed!
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