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Publication Date

2015-04-20

Availability

UM campus only

Embargo Period

2015-04-20

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2015-04-02

First Committee Member

Brenna Munro

Second Committee Member

Pamela Geller

Third Committee Member

Belkys Torres

Fourth Committee Member

Tracy Devine Guzman

Abstract

In this autoethnography I offer powerful, intimate, and detailed testimonios of gay men in El Salvador, gathered during three months of field research conducted in 2014. The word testimonio in Spanish carries the connotation of an act of truth telling—dar testimonio means to testify, to bear truthful witness (Beverley, 2004). This autoethnography offers a historical background of pre and post-civil war El Salvador, to contextualize the life histories of three gay men currently living in El Salvador. The three essays in this autoethnography are testimonios from gay men in a developing country, whose lives were disrupted by war, affected by street violence, crippled by sexual violence, impaired by mental health conditions, intensely devastated by family hostility and discriminated by a patriarchal society that is machista and homophobic. The three essays contained in this autoethnography were chosen on the basis of my personal interest, and to illustrate the range of themes and experiences that parallel that of the author. Taking a cue from Behar (1996) I offer an autoethnography that that is lived and written in a personal voice, thus enhancing the understanding of those I observed. These testimonies are representative of the lives and experiences of gay men, who endured the brutal consequences of twelve years of armed conflict and who have tried to cope with the aftermath of war. El Salvador is a threatening and violent place for those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender—they are often innocent victims of prejudice, discrimination, abuse, and violence and are subjected daily to forms of harassment, degradation, and cruelty. Despite hate, violence, mistreatment from the authorities, lack of professional opportunities, a mediocre educational system, access to efficient health care, and discrimination from family, school and church, the LGBTI community in El Salvador is a thriving force within the country and the Central American region. I conclude this autoethnography by showing that, although members of the LGBTI community have historically faced massive amounts of societal discrimination, violence and repression since it is a culture dominated by machismo, LGBTI people have found ways to cope despite abandonment by family members, marginalization generated by a governmental institutions that still interpret homosexuality as a psychological sickness and a flawed relationship with religious establishments that continue to view homosexuality as a perversion, and homosexual people as socially defective and morally degenerate.

Keywords

Autoethnography; Sexuality; El Salvador; Homosexuality; Males; Trauma; Violence

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