What is Latin America doing for the LGBT Community

By: Christian J. Lorenzo

Sociologist Salvador Vidal-Ortiz was the keynote speaker in the second keynote address scheduled for the V Coloquio ¿ Del Otro La’o?: Perspectivas sobre sexualidades queer’’(V Symposium Perspectives on queer sexualities) on Thursday March 6, 2014 at the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez.

Dr. Vidal-Ortiz started nearly at 11:00 a.m., with an audience of approximately 80 people, explaining the terminology and definitions of queer studies words such as heteronormativity, transsexual, transgender and emphasizing why they are different.

The researcher then explained some of his research in Colombia where he studied trans women and why they are migrating to Bogotá. He said that the city find jobs for these women if they leave sexual work but usually these jobs are very harsh.

The keynote speaker also talked about Bogotrans, a fashion show during fashion week in which trans women model. He said that each year different women are selected and trained to participate in Bogotrans.

Professor Vidal-Ortiz covered all his slides in almost 45 minutes to leave a space for discussion with the public. During the discussion section Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, professor at the University of Michigan, asked Vidal, how the government helps or if there were any programs dedicated to trans men in Bogotá. He answered that there were rumors of making a similar activity to Bogotrans for trans men but apart from that there was nothing that he knew of.

The colloquium is celebrated every two years since 2006. The last edition of the ¿Del Otro La’o? featured keynote addresses about sex and embryology and another one about criminalization and homophobia.

The main topic in this year’s event was discrimination, not only because of sexual preference but also because of race and/or political beliefs.

Vidal-Ortiz‘s keynote address was attended by approximately 80 people. A moment before the keynote address started the stage was decorated with trees.

Salvador Vidal-Ortiz is associate professor of sociology at the American University in Washington, DC. He is better known for his award winning book “The Sexuality of Migration.” He graduated in sociology from the University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras.

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Salvador Vidal listening to Lawrence La Fountain-Stoke during the discussion session.

Jan Carlos Colón, 20, a UPRM student majoring in biology who attended the conference said “it was very informative.” He learned the difference between transgender and transsexual and thought that other activities such as the previous panel were more interesting.

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