So I just came back from a screening of "For the Bible Tells Me So" here in Lima. It was an interesting film about the Bible and what it says or doesn't say about homosexuality and abomination and so forth. It made me miss Church all the more. After the screening as the host was ushering the 4 people who had come to see the film I asked him if there was a church in Lima that accepted openly gay people. I mentioned how I attended an Episcopal church in the US and how the Anglican Church here was not all that open. He says he did not know of any, but that there was a Bible study kind of group that met at the center on Sunday nights as 6pm, but not this coming Sunday as there was some sort of event on the street and access would be difficult.
So many things about that are very Lima right now. Hurray that a center that would show a movie like that exists, but of course it is funded largely by UCLA and other foreign groups. Great that there is somewhere I could theoretically go to hear the word of God that would accept me being gay, but it isn't a church but some semi-hidden little group. And it only meets when traffic conditions are favorable. Lima is a city where more and more I see being gay as living in the shadows. It is kind of like little Eva Duarte being kept hidden form her father's funeral because she was of the "other" family of his.
As someone who lives their life open and honestly at all times in the US, this is not something I can really get used to. I don't see myself as a flamboyant person, not someone who walks around with a rainbow ship on their shoulder, but nonetheless, I don't dodge the question or hide who I am. Here is Lima it is as if the world is not ready for fairly conventional, openly gay man. No I don't speak with a lisp, nor do I wear a cravat or give "three snaps up" to stuff all the time. I'm guy in a suit who works for an engineering company, drives a car he bought from an octogenarian and lives on a quite street. I marched for marriage equality in a suit. Someone had to. Not all activists are t-shirt wearing, long haired rabble-rousers.
So what do you do in this kind of environment? I was sitting at lunch the other day with a group of polities when one of them talk about how awful it was that the Mayor of Lima, Susana Villaran, was getting involved with "those gays" and how it was likely to diminish her as Mayor. Well, Susana Villaran is kind of ineffective as it is really, but what does one say in that sort of situation? Since the comment was not directed to me and I was the invited guest of someone I simply kept silent and went back to my ceviche, but I really would have liked to comment. When faced with situations like that on an almost daily basis, what do you do? How do you handle it? How do you stay honest and still save face.
In reality there is not easy way out. I don't have the luxury to be the activist here, the freedom to make waves. Too much family and work and expectations for that. As much I would like to be out and proud and speak up, I can't see doing it and alienating my mother, my step-sister and others. And on some level maybe it shouldn't matter, but in reality it does. I know already that my secret is the one no one talks about and wants to keep hidden, being out isn't going to change that, it will only make it harder to be around me.
Fixing people up is sport here in Lima and everyone plays this game. Its bigger than football (soccer for you Americas). My cousin (I call her Cousin Fabulous because she just is) who used to regularly parade her female friends in front of me until she figured out I was gay recently contacted me about introducing me to a guy. I'm sure it is a first for her and frankly my first family related set-up. What is interesting is in her message to me she describes the guy as "discrete like you." So that is the culture, be who you want to be but just keep it under wraps.
While there are many things I love about Lima and about Peru, I just can't see living here. It would just be too hard to transition to partially back in the closet and having to dodge the question at political gatherings.
I told my boss this week that while I was willing to stay for a while I could not commit to a full relocation to Lima. His first reaction was sympathetic. Upon a subsequent conversation he became almost cruel. He said he wanted to convince me to stay to which I replied I would be willing to do so for a while but not a relocation, to which he replied that I was too young and that it would be a number of years before I got that big corporate job. Now, I don't have my sights set on a big corporate job and I tried to explain upon our first conversation that it was for personal reasons that I may my decision, but clearly he wasn't listening.
Now, I should just caulk this up to one more person saying something unprofessional to me. Been there, heard that, moving on. But for whatever reason I was thinking he would "get it." His comment also reminded me of my ex to said to me that no one else would ever love me, when we broke up. No I know that intellectually that cannot be true and he could not know that, but as someone who never really thought anyone could love him or would love him, it really hurt. And he knew all that and that's probably why he said that. But boss man's comment just made me feel that way all over again.
Now I have always been too young for what I was doing. School and career. So again, intellectually I know he is wrong and that if I wanted that I could make that happen, but still. In a way, like the ex's comment, boss man's comment confirmed that I may the right choice, although it was a pretty crappy thing to say.
Now back to Cali with a need to figure out what's next. I feel like this experience has given me a chance to look at my life and see what I am really being called to do. I don't know yet what that may be, but I certainly intend to go home and try to find out.