Without a doubt, Buenos Aires was one of our favorite cities to travel to this year. We got hooked into the night life at Queer Tango, where Jenni and I attempted (not very successfully) to learn Argentina’s national dance. Experiencing a country with full equality laws was quite a culture shock for us. Our Argentine friends were quite surprised that we didn’t have the same marriage equality laws or transgender identity laws in California. We experienced some serious equality jealousy.
Speaking with the LGBT leaders in this country, you can see the amount of pride they have in their government for passing their equality laws. Despite the strong influence of the Catholic church, Argentina’s activists have successfully worked with the government to enact some of the most inclusive LGBT laws in the world.
One of Argentina’s most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) queer celebrities is Supergay haute couture designer Roberto Piazza. Four years ago prior to same-sex marriages becoming legal, Roberto and his partner Walter held a 3000 person civil union ceremony at a popular gay dance club that aired on every Argentine television station. Unfortunately, most of the public reaction to his wedding was negative. Roberto says, “the people hated us, and they insulted us anonymously.”
Yet four years later, same sex weddings are celebrated. President of the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina, Supergay Pedro Paradiso Sottile told us, “I would have never imagined these changes 20 years ago when I started as an activist. I thought only my grandchildren or great-grandchildren would live to see this.” Much of this progress occurred under the leadership of Supergay Maria Rachid, former president of Federacion Argentina LGBT and current legislator of Buenos Aires, who says, “I feel proud of Argentina because today we are a model for equality. Hopefully very soon we’ll have the same rights in all the world.”
Progress continues to take place and in the weeks after our visit, we heard the good news that Argentina has now implemented the “Law of Identity.” This new law allows the right to chose one’s gender identity without a surgery requirement or court action, giving transgender individuals immediate access to a new identity card that matches their gender identity.
Supertrans activist Kalym Soria, a 45-year old trans man who leads RITTA (Red Nacional de Interexuales, Transgenderos y Transexuales de Argentina), tells us that the new law requires Argentina’s compulsory insurance plan to cover hormonal and surgical coverage. This allows him to finally access medical treatment and feel comfortable in his body. He says, “Society knows that we exist. We are different. We are not monsters…We want a place to exist. Because we have families, we have children. We just want inclusion. ”
Given all of this positive energy in the community, Argentina may be the best place for an all-around gay vacation. Indeed we found a ton of places that we loved . Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to pack. We needed summer clothes for the tropical setting of Iguazu falls, urban wear for the stylish night scene in Buenos Aires, and down jackets and fleece for the cold front of Patagonia. Our second biggest challenge after packing all this clothes was making sure that we would still fit into them after four weeks of enjoying a lot of steak dinners, countless empanadas, and a glass (or two or three) of Malbec every night.
After Argentina, we continued to travel through the rest of South America. Unfortunately, much of Latin America remains far from passing such progressive laws for LGBT equality. We can only hope that Argentina can serve as an example to other neighboring nations.
This piece originally appeared at OutandAround.com.