Hundreds stage kiss-a-thon in Bogotá to fight homophobia
The city's first openly gay mayor, Claudia Lopez, has said she will ‘fight until equality is the norm’
image Shingi Rice on Unsplash
words Megan Wallace
TW: details of homophobic hate crime
On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered in a park in the Salitre neighbourhood of Bogotá, Colombia to participate in a kiss-a-thon in solidarity with gay couple Santiago Maldonado and Jorge Esteban Farías, who were recently the subject of a suspected hate crime after kissing in front of a pizzeria at the same location.
The couple were reportedly pursued and forced out of the area by a group of women (one of whom brandished a broomstick) after sharing a kiss. Footage from the incident began circulating on social media on Saturday and women are heard saying; “In this neighbourhood we don't allow sex in the park, especially not in front of children.” When the men reply to say they had only kissed and were not participating in sexual acts, one of the women in the group threatened to hit the couple if they did not leave and is pictured attempting to attack them with her broom. The altercation has since been reported and is currently being investigated by David Alonzo, the Director of Sexual Diversity for the Colombian capital, and has been condemned on Twitter by the city's first openly gay mayor, Claudia López, who says that she will fight until equality is the norm.
In the aftermaths of this event, Juan Pablo Jaramillo, one of the country's most followed influencers and a prominent member of the Colombian LGBTQIA+ community, organised a peaceful protest to take place in solidarity. Sharing footage of the event and condemning the use of violence by the women pictured in the video and the indifference of bystanders, he encouraged followers to come together for a kiss-in in at the same spot on 31 July in a post which has been liked over 158,000 times.
When the time came, individuals in the Bogotá LGBTQIA+ community descended upon the area wearing Pride flags and various artistic and musical events took place throughout the day, including a voguing showcase. Individuals were encouraged to freely express their love and affection and celebrate the spectrum of queer identity, with signs reading "kisses are signs of affection, not a crime" and protestors chanting a rallying cry of "bring out your broomsticks, we are not afraid". The couple who were subjected to the attack were also present and gave a speech recounting their experience to the crowds who had gathered in support.
La Disidencia, a love, sex and LGBTQIA+ format of Colombian newspaper El Espectador was present at the protest and interviewed various individuals on the ground, some of whom spoke of their desire to reclaim the park in defence of the neighbourhood's queer community.
Footage by La Disidencia documenting the event can be seen in the below video