Supporting Diversity: LGBT Organizations
Historically, the LGTB movement has encountered an environment of violence and exclusion, consequently has been motivated to organize into a movement which struggles for and defends human rights of sexually diverse people. Although a majority in society dismisses them and they receive little support from the government and public institutions in Guatemala, they have organized themselves into a variety of groups and have been successful in gaining significant change not only in the lives of their members but also, in the lives of others who are sexually diverse.
Having the support of LGTB institutions, associations, groups, and collectives, not only has given visibility to the existence of these LGTB communities but also provides essential gathering places for LGTB individuals—spaces for self-reflection and analysis, mutual support from a place of defending diversity. The work of these groups is fundamental to transforming a conservative, homophobic system which keeps LGTBI people excluded from the mainstream. Several of these organizations work in this area, and as EntreMundos does, it has compiled a description of some of them.
The Guatemalan Visibility Movement (Movimiento Guatemalteco Visibles) is an organization highly experienced in the promotion of health. In 2018 they presented a series of forums and presentations providing a look at the history of the LGTB movement in Guatemala. They began raising funds dedicated to providing comprehensive attention to and work in the area of HIV prevention in the LGTB community, and over time, have integrated other comprehensive services such as attending to people living with AIDS and other health problems, psychological and legal support services, support with immigration issues. And they have provided support around immigration issues, community participation and attempts to change societal attitudes. The group operates out of the capital, Guatemala City.
Parallel Lives (Vidas Paralelas) is an organization in Quetzaltenango. Its members are activists for social change and are recognized nationally and internationally for their struggle for lesbian and bisexual people’s rights and their representation in the struggle for human rights. They strategically promote proposals and alliances for decision-making favorable to lesbians and bi-sexual people through supporting participation in political action, efforts to influence change and through legal representation utilizing a team dedicated to respecting human rights and gender equality. This same organization currently is developing self-help programs focusing on strengthening networking and emotional support for the sexually diverse community. Similarly Vidas Paralelas carries out activities like their participation this year in the Pride march with slogans such as “I Exist. I Resist. I Celebrate Myself.”
Another organization, el Grupo de Apoyo—Xela or GAX (Support Group in Xela) made up mostly of local LGTB youth came about in 2011. It is on a quest for a more just and egalitarian world with equal opportunities for youth in general, working against discrimination of any kind and promoting enjoyment of equal rights by everyone. It serves Quetzaltenango, Colomba Costa Cuca, Coatepeque, Flores Costa Cuca, Génova Costa Cuca. They offer comprehensive educational services in the areas of reducing stigma and discrimination, human rights and sexually-transmitted illness, HIV and advanced stages of HIV, security for the LGTB community, empowerment of the people, a culture of peace during electoral processes, access to jobs, local and municipal campaigns and local volunteer work.
Kajib Kawoq 4 Guardianes is an organization of both indigenous and non-indigenous LGTB people from the western part of Guatemala promoting culture and encouraging respect for both art and technology in order to gain self-sufficiency which guarantees life with dignity. Among its services and activities are: comprehensive healthcare, artistic and cultural expression particular to the cosmic system of the Maya K’iche people. They also develop introductory language learning opportunities in K’iche. And they create cultural activities which provide opportunities for first hand, up close experiences with the Mayan cosmic world view.
La Iniciativa por la Diversidad Sexual de Occidente (IDSO) or The Western Initiative for Sexual Diversity is an organization in the west of Guatemala which looks toward building a more just society, free from stigma and discrimination. They carry out actions for political change, defend human rights, and work for comprehensive healthcare, community participation, management and sustainability for a wide range of developments supporting sexual diversity and other vulnerable groups in the western region. Additionally, they offer volunteer opportunities, political activity and human rights work and opportunities for making a difference. They arrange for art workshops, meetings about communal living, coordination of volunteers, festivals and cultural activities, information fairs on human rights and other workshops for learning.
Casa de Colores or House of Colors is in the Department of Retalhuleu. Jorge Marotta, its founder, defines the organization as young volunteers who have been working since 2015 out of love for their fellow human beings trying to find a way to guarantee human rights and dignity of LGTB individuals and vulnerable groups. They work throughout the department of Retalhuleu and in the southwest of Guatemala where they provide a volunteer program trying to make a difference through talks in the schools about human rights, sex education, HIV and nutrition. They have participated in marches, events celebrating the beauty of sexual diversity, testing for HIV, food donation campaigns and running a solidarity dining hall that approximately 30 people utilize daily.
House of Colors’ work with public servants has been a fundamental focus, specifically, its promotion and defense of human rights for the LGTB community. Some of the institutions with which it has coordinated its efforts are the National Civil Police, Tourism Police, Attorney General’s office for Human Rights. Jhonatan Elias, member of the Casa de Colores says, “In reality, the experience I have experienced has been significantly gratifying. I used to feel very alone, thinking I was the only one who was like this. I was afraid to think differently and I was mentally closed . . . until I began to have LGBT friends which made me feel freer and it opened me up, helping me leave behind prejudice, but more than anything, loving myself, accepting who I am.”
Finally, Fundación Arcoiris, or Rainbow Foundation is a foundation that has been actively promoting human rights for the last 15 years, we work for political change and we organize LGTB beauty events in Quetzaltenango. According to Paolo Rebuli, founder of the group, these beauty pageants are the principal method of self-sustainability. They sponsor safe sex and reproductive health information, talks in institutions, groups dealing with HIV prevention, HIV and syphilis testing free of charge. The organization also has volunteer opportunities. We have offered financial assistance programs with international supportive funding and currently we are coordinating a project for the prevention of prostitution and human trafficking.
How to be in touch with these organizations:
Fundación Arcoiris –Look for Fundación Arcoiris in FB at their page Arcoiris Xela. Or in other social media outlets: telephone: 502 4907 2276 or 4846 2367 email: arcoiris_quetzaltenango@ hotmail.com Instagram: Fundación arcoíris Twitter: Fundación arcoíris
Casa de Colores –Look for Casa de Colores in FB by searching Casa de colores. Email: email@example.com. Telephone: 502 42833796 and their office location: 4th avenida C 2-61 zona 1 Retalhuleu
Vidas Paralelas –Look for Vidas Paralelas in FB telephone: 502 3080 6259 email: info@ vdsparalelas.org and in their website: https://www.vdsparalelas.org/
GAX –Look for Grupo de Apoyo Xela in FB or telephone: 502 5754 6059 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or in their offices located at 2nd Calle 14a-31 zona 1, Quetzaltenango
Kajib Kawoq Cuatro Guardianes — Kajib Kawoq can be found in FB telephone: 502 4270 559 or at their webpage www.cuatroguardianes.org.gt and in their offices at 7th Avenida 6-68 zona 1 Quetzaltenango.
IDSO –Look for Asociación IDSO FB page and FB personal profile, teléfono 502 5543 1057, email: email@example.com