being queer in costa rica

my wife and i moved to CR one year ago this month. we found that there were quite a few gay men here but up to today I have only seen TWO lesbians in the whole area that we live in. I come from Oakland where I might encounter 10 or more lesbians just going to the store, so i am getting some really complicated feelings about being here.

I know there are lesbians in the big towns like San Jose but we live in a tiny village that is a mix of ticos and gringos. Most of the gringos are retired people from Canada the US and France.

So anyway…

yesterday I went to the vivero (nursery) (I am an insatiable gardener, in fact I would hate to admit how much time I spent either thinking about or actually doing gardening, but hey, I am retired) and got in some sort of argument with the cashier. I am not really sure of the details because my Spanish is weak, although getting stronger every day. Usually ticos are extremely polite and quiet so I was really taken off guard, this lady got really mad at me and then spent about 5 minutes complaining about “these rich people who come in here” to the innocent bystander guy standing there trying to write up my order. During a lull in the tirade from the lady I went to get a few more plants and I realized that the other tico folks there were all giving me side eye and edging away from me and all of a sudden I couldn't get anyone to help me.

Now I have been to this vivero MANY times and often I have 2 or 3 guys helping me because I always buy a lot of plants and we all have a laugh or two and the young guys use google translate so we can get over the rough bits when we are not understanding each other. so this treatment was like a 180 from what usually happens there.

I drove away from there extremely bummed

so anyway I realized that I was wearing this obvious gay pride bracelet that I had brought back from a recent trip to Ireland

I honestly dont know if that was the problem.

so anyway I get home and I posted to the local CR (it is only for the village i live in) facebook about what happened. that was a huge mistake!!!!

I was first of all told that LOTS of people (on this fb list) know this lady and she is just so nice all the time to them. It MUST have been something I had done. One lady told me that she “knows lots of gay guys and they have NEVER had a problem in Costa Rica”

first of all the first group was kind of proving my point because why would this lady be so angry with me, when she is so nice to other people and when I had done nothing to provoke her?

I tried to make the point that it is really not ok for str8 people to tell me what my experience is, like if you are some straight married woman how can you tell me there is no homophobia in CR? Seriously? I tried to explain the basic concept of this, for example I don’t assume and I would never tell a POC that they were or were not discriminated against, that would be a totally asshole and non-ally move, right? I mean what the fuck?

they DID NOT get my point and one person told I should go with a friend and talk it out with the lady, to make up or something. Like I am going to go and do education on queer issues with a random lady that already has some kind of problem with me, possibly for being a queer. I am still trying to give that lady the benefit of the doubt, maybe she just hates my face or I remind her of a past failure in life, I really have no idea

but the people who actually make me sick are these ignorant fb people mainly because THIS IS WHERE I LIVE! I live here with white people who dont get gay issues and dont give a shit about them and are not interested and in fact will blame ME if I ever talk about feeling discriminated against.

So just sitting here with all this shit trying to process. I have a big mouth and a lot of opinions and a lot of people think I am too much but I swear I was nothing but polite to that lady. I don’t know enough Spanish to insult or fight with anyone for one thing I get the culture here which is to use a quiet voice, be super polite, do not be demanding and basically don’t act like an asshole american, and I was definitely not doing any of those things.

The final thing one of the fb people said to me on fb was “grow up, this isn’t all about you”

But it was. And it’s ok. I mean for me to experience my reality. But some validation would sure go down good right now. what I really need is just at least one other lesbian that gets it.

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