The Chilean armed forces doesn’t bother with anything like America’s former “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which is the political version of sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and screaming “lalalalala.” There it’s traditionally been more like “don’t be gay, period.”
Which is why it is especially surprising that Chilean sailor Mauricio Ruiz staged a press conference this week to come out of the closet in the most public way imaginable.
On Wednesday he sat with gay rights activists and his (very cute) boyfriend as he told the press that he is gay and proud, hoping the declaration would help to dispel myths that gay servicemen and women can’t succeed in the military.
“Personally, I hope that this is a contribution to non-discrimination in my society,” he said.
While Chile is slowly progressing on gay rights — gay sex was decriminalized in 1999 and a hate crimes bill was passed in 2012 after the killing of a gay man — homophobia is still very much a part of the social structure.
Interestingly, Mauricio received permission from his superior officers to make the public declaration after three months of back-and-forth between Chile’s Armed Forces and the Integration Movement and Homosexual Liberation groups, suggesting a desire from top brass to advocate tolerance.