The Pride of Being As I Am

By: Carlos Vela and Lucia Ruiz, ACSA CRS, Iquitos, Peru

The Pride of Being As I Am

"I'm gay and I like men, I do not feel good pretending to be someone I'm not, I'm not attracted to women and please I need you
to understand me.
She looked at me, slapped me and told
me to leave home ... "

Rassiel Ivanoff

The process of building an identity is very complex and occurs over time. People do not usually accept us so easily, but when it happens, nobody can stop us. This is how Rassiel Ivanof lived it, she accepted it, she learned, she loved herself, and now she feels proud to be who she is.

The LGBT community in Peru is very vulnerable due to the lack of external and internal acceptance, and the daily struggle is constant and tenacious. Last year Lima repealed a law that protected its members from family violence, however, in Loreto the issue is reversed.

Activist on the Pride Train at Pride Day Festivities
Our train is like life: We can all go up and down Click for high-res version

The Loreto region in Peru has been a pioneer of inclusion through regional and municipal ordinances in favor of the LGBT community, maintaining empowerment and support from schools, monitoring the issues of violence hand in hand with the Ombudsman's Office, and the region is involved in research topics through the Amazon Rainforest Civil Association.

Part of this process is a special day called Pride Day that is celebrated every June 27 to stop and say here we are, we exist, and we will go for more.

Attendees, dressed as a bride and groom, share a kiss during the Pride Parade
Attendees share a kiss during event. More pleasure, more PrEP–vention. #ImaginateEnPrEp Click for high-res version

This year in Iquitos the Regia Marcha brought together locals and strangers. The Amazon Rainforest Civil Association participated with an allegorical train that brought together members of the community, their family, and friends who showed the joy of living as a family with the diversity of our world. This was a message that was felt so deeply that it caused everyone, literally, to get on the train.

Feeling pride in oneself should not be a matter of 24 hours, but a constant part of life. How can we love ourselves without loving each other? How can we accept ourselves without accepting others? Every day we learn something new, and the goal of this day is to learn to respect.

Welcome to our Pride Train and the journey to be who we are.

Carlos Vela is a Community Educator and Lucia Ruiz is the CER Manager of the ACSA Iquitos CRS.