Corrientes Pride was a surprising event I deeply enjoyed attending to. Actually, I only witnessed the parade ending and the final act on the stage. Enough to feel myself proud of being puto and correntino.
My first Corrientes Pride
This blogger left Corrientes City about 35 years ago, as a closeted homosexual. Back then it was imposible to imagine the event that took over the main downtown pedestrian street, Junín. This year I have the opportunity to attend the 7th version of the protest/celebration, even if it was my first one.
My anual visit to Corrientes takes place usually in July/August. This time I started the trip earlier and had the chance to witness a crowded parade and celebration.
The original plan was joining the events from the very beginning, right in front of the State Government’s House. The crowd would gather over there to march throughout the city, taking Junín street and closing in the historic Plaza Cabral, right in front of my hotel.
(Un)Fortunately this blogger was extremely tired from an intense meeting that will be reported later somewhere else in the blog (pay attention to the Reviews). The original plan changed. Instead, I waited for the parade to arrive to Plaza Cabral and show me some Corrientes Pride.
The Corrientes Pride Parade
I learned the parade started with representatives of LGBTQ organizations presenting a petition to the State Government on inclusive legislation. After they turned in the petition, the Corrientes Pride parade started.
It was crowded, as you can see in the video, and very festive. My first impression of the city gay life has been through the hook ups apps. I was not expecting so many people openly celebrating sexual diversity, after dealing with so many closeted guys on line. It was a truly diverse crowd, with every single letter of the LGBTQ spectrum visibly represented.
Drag Queens in beautiful characters, one of them wearing a dress representing the local tradicional carnaval. Lesbians, a lot of them, many still wearing the national soccer team shirt after watching the match where Argentina was eliminated by France in the World Cup. Transexuals that were visibly still going through physical transformation. Men and women of all ages, with a clear predominance of the younger and the female ones. And what I liked the most was the final ceremony in Plaza Cabral.
A negative note
Before celebrating what I witnessed on the stage, I want to drop a negative comment.
When this blogger arrived early to the stage area, there were two banners on stage. Both showed the shield representing the city, and the letter head of the municipal office sponsoring the event. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture and do not remember exactly the name of the office.
The city shield has a very prominent Christian cross, and I was thrilled to see drags on the stage with such background. While the parade was still far away, some of the organizers started to roll down the banners and to put them away. I approached and asked them why. They told me they were asked to put down the banners by the same city official who asked them to put it up in the first place.
Apparently, the city can approve declarations and ordinances celebrating Pride Month and diversity (which is actually much, much more than what Trump did, let’s recognize), but they cannot put up with the visual on the stage. A symptom that support from government to diversity and inclusive policies may not be granitic. We can tell there was some inner fight right there and not much Corrientes Pride.
Corrientes Pride on the stage
The city government banners may have been put down, but the stage remained. The Corrientes Pride parade arrived and quickly took over it and the surroundings.
You probably do not know the city. Plaza Cabral is not a square far away from the residential areas, but right in the middle of a very traditional neighborhood. The Catedral Church, a big elementary school, and two hotels are the main buildings around it. There are also plenty of family oriented business and residencies. The plaza is attended by families with little kids. Everything took place in that environment.
The speeches were heavily ideological (one of the MCs had clearly problems reading some of the words because probably was not understanding what she was reading). What stroke me the most, in a very positive way, is that I did not hear not once the word “gay”. Instead, the hosts would loudly, consistently, and repeatedly use the word “puto”, the most derogative word in the Spanish language to refer to an homosexual man. I loved it.
There was clear theoretical echoes from authors like Foucault, Perlongher, and specially Berger and Luckmann. Some excerpts reminded me of my old and inspiring readings of The Social Construction of Reality, one of the most influential texts in modern Sociology and in my personal life.
The speeches celebrated diversity and clearly advocated for an open sexuality with no rigid identities. The writing was pretentious and hard to understand for the average listener (and to read for the MCs), but the ideas were powerful. My times as a radical activist seemed to be coming back through a time tunnel, and made me feel excited and thrilled.
Diverse Performances in Corrientes Pride
This time the reference is not to social diversity but about quality. After the opening remarks and before a long list of recognitions to local community leaders, we enjoyed a couple performances. The first one was a funny and extremely clumsy drag queen that made an attempt of performance with Lady Gaga booming in the speakers.
What stroke me the most was not her talentless and clumsy performance, indeed shameful but entertaining. I do not think you can appreciate in the clip how naked she actually was. That was what really shocked me. Such a kinky performance surrounded by breeders with children and little babies in strolls was a very interesting combination to watch.
I liked much better the second artistic number. A local rapper brought an example of socially committed rhyming:
Right after the clip ends, the correntino rapper called a friend to the stage who performed a conventional break dance show. These two guys were the best part of the artistic shows at the beginning of the party.
The party continued for many hours, until 10PM. Mosquitos were eating me, and I ran to take refuge in my hotel. From the lobby and my room it was still possible to hear the loud shows, with musical groups of different tribes.
Queer activism is still alive
Beyond the questionable talent of the artists performing on the stage, the political component was inspiring. The MCs consistently followed the new inclusive language, using the vowel “e” for the plural nouns and adjectives, instead of the “o” that is supposedly gender neutral in Standard Spanish. This is a new inclusive policy advocated mostly by Women groups, and it is one more symptom that in Corrientes and Argentina, like in many other places, it is our sisters who march at the vanguard of the liberation movements.
I wonder if this is just a sample of what is going on in other places of the under developed world. Gay politics in Europe and the USA have lost the combative and questioning spirit of the early years. AIDS hit hard and decimated most of the queer, radicalized activists that fought against the mainstream patriarchal monogamic model. We lost guys like Nestor Perlongher by the hundreds, and centrist leaders took over the liberation movement.
Perhaps in places where integration has not yet taken place, like Corrientes, a new generation of queer activists is raising. I hope so, it has been an inspiration listening to these leaders in their 20s and 30s, schooling the old generations on queer activism.
They do not reject past achievements. Part of the ceremony was presenting recognition diplomas to senior leaders in the local community. These veterans’ words of gratitude were the lamest performances of the night, and the only ones where the word “gay” was remembered. The younger ones would defiantly and proudly yell “puto” in the speakers, and made me realized I have turned into another centrist conformist enjoying the comfort of first world integration.
I thank them for that. Their lesson goes beyond sexual diversity policy in the Age of Trump.