100 days into my “BREAKAWAY” & I don’t understand why “WE” don’t have equal rights.

It’s 6:03am on Saturday June 5, 2011 I am barely getting home from Playa 69 (the only gay club in Playa del Carmen). I’m actually not drunk, but buzzing (I stopped drinking a while ago). For the last few days I have been thinking about what I’m going to say/write about for my “100 days on the road” post. I know it’s a huge achievement (at least I think its pretty fetch) and I should be writing about how happy I am and how amazing backpacking around the world is. Well that is all true I am loving life and backpacking around the world is amazing, and I am sure y’all can tell by my blog post, tweets and Facebook statuses, but tonight it hit me.

The sign outside Playa 69 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico! Oh man I had a great night here.

I arrived at the club around 1am, nice crowd going on and I was excited. I thought maybe I would meet someone. Well sure enough I did. Her name was Estrella. She smiled at me as soon as I walked in and I thought to myself wow that is a beautiful woman she must be here with her gay friends. She kept smiling at me and I would smile back. I was confused “hello we are at a gay club I’m sure she knows I’m not into women”. A while later she comes up to me and starts talking. We start with small talk… name, how are you, etc. etc… Then I ask her where she is from and she lets me know she is from a small town between Cancun and Play del Carmen. She lets me know she loves coming to Playa del Carmen because she can be herself. I look at her with an awkward face, “What do you mean be yourself”? She says “yes I can only come here once a month if I’m lucky and that is when I can be who I really want to be… a woman”. In my mind I’m thinking “WTF you are a man”? I’m not kidding she looked amazing and like a real women. She then went on and told me that where she works and at home she has to be a man and she hates it. Of course when she told me that my heart broke. I stood there with open ears and heard her story.

After talking for a while she let me know she needed to go home. We said our good byes and the rest of the night I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I kept thinking about her and all the GLBT people I have met on my trip so far. I have met quite a few and everyone has the same story. They cannot be open about who they really are because where they are from it is unacceptable. I remember clearly the night I spent 2 hours talking to a drag queen in Isla de Ometepe their stories are very similar. Every time I hear or even think about the stories I have heard my heartbreaks.


***I fell asleep & am now (June 8/9, 2011) finishing the post***


At first glance this looks like a picture of a tire shop, but look closer. See the lit up red doors??? That is the entrance to the gay club ICON in Panama City, Panama. No signs, no flags no anything. It is between two tire shops. If we hadn’t been told where it was we would have never found it. Oh & before we got in we had too get searched & patted down by a few officers.

Now that I am on the road I am learning about GLBT communities in other countries. The problems we face at home (USA) are universal however here in Central America it is much worse. It does however vary from country to country. For example Costa Rica is considering giving legal recognition to same-sex unions. Costa Rica is also the only place I went to where the gay bars actually had huge rainbow flags hanging outside or the announcements where big and rainbow. You would clearly know that a certain place is a gay bar. However in other places like Panama it is not the same. I spent a week in Panama City and of course it being a big city I thought it would be easy to find a gay bar, but that wasn’t the case. Luckily the receptionist at the hostel was gay and let me know where we needed to go. Once we arrived I was shocked that the club had no sign at all and was just two doors in between two tire shops. Those were the only two times I went to a gay bar while in Central America. In Nicaragua only recently (March 2008) did the laws change to make same-sex sexual activities legal. So yes you read that right before March 2008 it was illegal to have sex with the same gender. In Belize today (YES TODAY 2011) same-sex sexual activity is illegal and comes with a penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

I didn’t bring up Mexico because Mexico is actually way ahead of the game especially that of the U.S.A. In Mexico we are allowed Civil Unions in Mexico City only, but they are then recognized by all 31 states in the country. Single gays and same-sex couples can also now adopt kids with out being discriminated against. I’ve also spent a lot of time in Mexico and know the people here are more tolerant of the GLBT community then in others I have been too.

Drag Queen performing @ Liquid Lounge in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica! I still remember this show vividly she was amazing!!!

I know Gay bars is NOT a way to gage a countries stance on GLBT issues, but at the same time it does represent a tolerance level that is permitted in cities in these countries. It is also here where I meet so many people who just want to be happy. They go to the only place where they can be themselves and enjoy it 100% so the 95% of the time when they cannot be them selves they can stay sane.

At home I had stopped going to Gay bars as often as I used to after I got arrested for drinking and driving. My life changed after that and it was a huge wake up call I needed. Now while I am on the road I am finding myself eager to find a gay club/bar because I know it may be the only way I can meet another gay person. I have been traveling now 100 days and aside from the awesome lesbian couple Dani & Jessica from Globetrotter Girls I have not bumped into another GLBT backpacker at all. So yes even though I am myself 100% while I am on the road, I don’t have the opportunity to meet other gays in the hostel. So yes I seek out the gay bars in the big cities I go too.

Inside club ICON in Panama City, Panama! We are just humans having fun & wanting to be happy.

I mean yes occasionally I do meet a gay locals in some of the most random places (I have no clue how this happens to me, but it does). For example when I first arrived in Panama City a guy did ask if he could see my penis. A night I spent camping on the beach in Isla de Ometepe (Nicaragua) one of the locals that had joined us turned out to be gay. We chatted for a long time about things before one thing lead to the other. On a CHICKEN BUS in Guatemala a gay man sat next to me and well I am sure y’all have read that story. Then here in Playa del Carmen on Monday we (Erica, Shaun, Cynthia & I) went skinny-dipping and we noticed some man was watching us. Me while being naked went over there asked a few questions and turned out it was a gay guy. We then chatted and had a good time. So I am meeting gay men but in the most random places and then the next day (hell even a few minutes later) I never see them again.

One of the girls (Alice) I was traveling with for a while snapped this photo of me while on top of Volcano Pacaya. I had no clue she even took this shot & it is one of my favs… I dont know what I was thinking while looking at the amazing scenery, but every time I look at it I wonder.

What I do see is that “WE” are everywhere and one of the things that  is universal among the GLBT community no matter where I go is we just want to be happy. So here I am 100 days into my “BREAKAWAY” and I don’t understand why “WE” don’t have equal rights. Why do people not understand we are just humans like the rest of the world and want to be happy? Why can’t we live and let live?

These last 100 days have opened my eyes to so many things I would have never discovered had I not taken a chance or risk on my change of plans. 100 days in and I can honestly say I am 100% happy. Gosh just thinking about how happy I am is bringing tears of joy to my eyes. I look forward to so many more days on the road and hope they are as great as the first 100.

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  1. Well said my friend. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I too am not sure why equal rights are so difficult to come by in this world. I don’t want to cop out and say we shouldn’t judge because of cultural relativity, but still. I’ve just spent almost a month in Morocco and Egypt, two countries where it is still in the law books that it’s illegal to perform “lewd and immoral acts with a person of the same sex.” While it is getting better(you won’t necessarily go to jail anymore. Arrests are still done as a deterrent) it’s nowhere near as good as back home in Canada. Sometimes we don’t know how good we have it.

    But then, who knew some places were so tolerant. I was shocked to see you finding so many places in Central America that had gay bars. I was shocked when I was in La Paz, Bolivia and found a gay bar. I was shocked because of my obviously inaccurate knowledge on the lives of LGBTQ* people in these parts of the world. I’m not normally one to go to gay bars much at home, but on the road, I’ve found that it’s the only place I can find local queers to converse with. I’ve only ever met one other gay guy in a hostel that was out. And I’m not lucky enough to stumble onto gay guys on chicken buses like someone I know.

    To answer your question: I don’t know why. I don’t think anyone does. There are so many differences Canada and the United States, and Bolivia or Morocco for examples. The culture is extremely different, religion plays a different role, and hell, you could even look at political history as having shaped the collective conscious mentality that people have towards LGBTQ* people. One can only change perceptions by being who you are without apology. Activists need to understand the fears and misconceptions people have and work to change those or to prove them false. Only then can equality be achieved.

    Keep being a great ambassador. And congratulations on reaching day 100.

    Corey W. recently posted..Beyond the Medina

    • You are right about cultural relatively I understand it’s going to be different for every country in the world. I understand it is not going to be easy, but at the end of they day we are all human and ALL OF US (no matter what or who we are) just wanna be happy. Happiness is the one thing everyone on this earth is going to strive for.

      Oh I know I also get shocked when I find a gay bar in certain places sometimes or when I meet someone who is gay somewhere you wouldn’t think so. It just comes to show we really are every where just sadly so many of us are hiding in the damn closet that is used to protect us from the world. It is hard to tear that wall down and we can not rush or push anyone out of it at any point in time. Everyone has to do that on their own. The thing is the more people that are out the more people will know we are here and are humans. We have a long way to go all over the world, but I hope and pray that in my life time I will see GLBT rights get better and hopefully equal to the rest of the people on this planet.

      I never considered myself an ambassador, but I will continue to do so.

  2. To be blunt, cause people suck. They are afraid of anything different and think that something that doesn’t match up with their lifestyle is wrong, well until it’s someone in their family or someone they know, then they can change usually. Crazy it’s been 100 days”since U been gone.”, glad to hear you aren’t looking back. Traveling both shows us things that aren’t right around the world and also makes you appreciate home, I feel as though this issues hits you both ways.
    Scott recently posted..Traveling On Ice

    • AMEN Scott yes until it hits home. That is why I am very open about who I am because you are more likely to help any cause that is not in your beliefs if you know even 1 person. I am not in your face flamboyant, but I am who I am and will never hide that. Traveling has showed so me so much… so many things I just don’t understand so many things I do. It’s crazy how much it changes a person.

  3. Jaime – Congratulations on 100 days! You should be proud and we are so glad you want to keep going!!! This is really such an interesting post. It goes to show that you can’t predict the lessons you will take away from your travels, but that just going, just traveling, opens your eyes to so many things you would have otherwise never known about, or taken for granted. Your stores about all the LGBT people you meet on the road are so important, and so interesting, please keep telling these stories! Also, we wish Mexico would get more positive press about what a LGBT-friendly country it is. We were just so shocked in a positive way about how much further along Mexico is than the United States in that area!! Keep on going Jaime, we love you and miss you, you scandalous man!

    • Thanks Girls… I am so proud of myself it’s crazy. Everything I have seen and done has taught me so much and its things that are PRICELESS now. I have grown so much in the last 100 days it’s something I wouldn’t change for the world. Y’all are right though you can never predict what you will learn on the road. YOu may try and assume it will be one thing but may turn out to be a complete other. When I set off I did not think I would be noticing all this but I am glad I have been and keep notes and sharing it. I am going to continue to share them because that is how we will help our cause (sad we een have to call it that). I agree with you about Mexico it really should get so much more press about how friendly they are to the GLBT community. I have always known Monterrey was (since Ive been there a million times), but now that I have been to a few other cities I see the same kindness. I am going to keep on going and sharing these stories. I love y’all too and am so glad we were able to spend 2 weeks traveling together. I hope I see y’all soon.

  4. Wow. Really interesting perspective. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Kind of related to the topic — today I assigned debate topics to my class. One of the topics was same-sex marriage. The students were told to research reasons for & against each side of the debate even if it wasn’t their opinion. One of the students who was assigned this topic told me it would be “too difficult” to find reasons to oppose same-sex marriage as everyone agrees with it. Whoa. This coming from a Chinese college student who’d never left China. It’s good to know times are changing — although, it’s too bad, they’re not changing fast enough!

    • Damn Sally I have tears reading your comment, that is AMAZING (& I mean it). See it’s people like that that give me hope. It’s people like that who understand us and are going to help us get where we wanna get too now & in the future. I honestly believe all this discrimination is foolishness. We all know the younger generations are much more accepting of us and more open minded. I believe that the younger generations will be the ones that help us get our equal rights. I just wish it would change faster, but everything comes with time.
      Jaime recently posted..100 days into my “BREAKAWAY” &amp I don’t understand why “WE” don’t have equal rights

  5. People are freaking retarded. They shy away from anything that is “different”. That’s complete ball sack. Who are we to judge a person based upon their lifestyle? Why do we care who marries who? As long as it’s a healthy relationship, go for it. People are idiots Jaime.

    PS Congrats on your first 100 days!
    Elle recently posted..Potential is a keg- tap it! 286 Complete a 3D Globe Jigsaw Puzzle

    • You are right Elle people always shy away from anything that is different. I think that it is how it’s been with so many thing sexual orientation, religion, skin color & yes it is complete ball sack. We are no one to judge anyone the only one that can judge you is you and your God.

  6. Wow you’ve been on the road for 100 days!?! My gosh time flies by fast! I know that the world is not where it should be regarding GLBT issues, but I’m optimistic that it’s evolving. Just needs to evolve faster!

  7. Congrats on 100 days m’dear <3 Glad you've been able to see and learn so much, even if it's not always easy or positive.
    Heather recently posted..Australia Roadtrip- SA beaches &amp towns

  8. Congrats on 100 days love! First of all, people suck. That’s that. But I have no doubt in my mind that a time is coming very soon where men and women will be able to declare their love to each other all the time, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, social economic status, etc. As much as things are terrible now, thing of how much things have evolved. It wasn’t until 1967 where the law making interracial marriages illegal was overturned. That was only 44 years ago. Insanity!

    So I truly believe that it might not happen in the next year, but definitely in our lifetime we will be able to say everyone has equal rights. And you better believe I’m gonna be celebrating!

    Hope the rest of your RTW is awesome, love. I’ve been enjoying your journey so much!
    Sheryll recently posted..Keeping It In Perspective

    • AMEN Sheryll I have no doubt either that that time will come. Evolution is one the only things guaranteed in life. Humans we have to evolve for better or worse. I do agree things have evolved a lot for the better, but we have so much more fighting to go to get where we want to be. About interracial marriages I did not know that it was that recently… 44years is like ummm yesterday…. WOW!!! Thanks again Sheyll for being so supportive & reading my blog.

  9. Jaime, I am so happy for you and am thrilled at the experiences you’ve had during your travels. Thanks for sharing your pictures and stories 🙂

    • Awww Alma thank you so much for reading my blog. I am so glad you enjoy it. I will continue to share my pictures and stories with everyone. I should stop by and visit before I head of to Europe.

  10. Jaime,
    Great post and congrats for your 100 days. Keep speaking your mind!

  11. Jaime,
    Thanks for this really interesting post (and congrats on 100 days BTW). I can definitely agree that it’s very difficult to meet other gay backpackers while traveling. I don’t think gay backpackers necessarily open themselves up when meeting other backpackers–at least not right off the bat. I’ve met a few here in Southeast Asia but this is the first place where I’ve met more than just-about none. Granted, I haven’t been to Central or South America where you seem to have had more than a handful of experiences!

    Keep it up!
    Adam recently posted..Traveling without an iPod

    • Your welcome Adam. I will have to agree with you about opening up when meeting other backpackers. I think with me its ummm kinda obvious but with others it isn’t so much so one never knows and it does take some warming up and actually knowing the person before opening up. It’s good to hear that you have bumped into some gay backpackers in SEA… i will be there soon. Oh & yes I have had a handful of experiences, but all with locals… which is not a bad thing at all.

  12. For the same reason that any welfare abusing crack whore can churn out kids like she was a goddamned factory is the same reason that the LGBT community is so discriminated against. The fact that the priorities in the US (and around the world) are very much stuck in the thinking of decades and centuries ago and refuse to change their policies.

    It is a can of worms, I tell you that. But so happy for you on your 100 days, love following along with you and so happy you are having such a great time.
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..June 13- Be Kind- Rewind

    • Thanks Justin, I would have to agree with you the priorities around the world are stuck in the thinking of decades ago. With time though I have hope that it will change for the better. Thanks again for following along with my crazy adventure.

  13. Wow – Congrats on 100 days. THAT is amazing.

    We’ve been thinking about this topic lately, as we’re planning on hitting the middle east next year. Reading all of the “don’t let anyone know you’re gay” comments as we research the region gets tiring. Time for us to be more vocal about equal rights.
    The NVR Guys recently posted..On Joshua Tree National Park and Change

    • Thanks guys!!! Yeah it’s a topic that had been on my mind for a while and was not sure when to talk about it & well it all just fell into place. I’m glad I had no problems here in Central AMerica or Mexico. As you know I plan on traveling through the Middle East this year and I am sure it’s going to be different, but at the time going to be eye opening. I of course will let you know how it goes while I am over there to give y’all some tips. I don;t think its going to be as bad as people say it is. The only way to find out is to go for yourself.

  14. Kudos on 100 days of traveling. And really informative to hear of contrasting acceptance of LGBTs in Central America. I wonder what it will be like when I get to DR island come July.
    Harrison recently posted..Overlooked Surf Spots Around the World

  15. I have felt sad when I’ve read some of your posts and you have said that locals have told you they have to hide who they are for fear of being rejected or getting abuse. I know it is like this all around the world and it’s terrible, but it’s still hard to hear. As someone who has lots of gay friends (both male and female) I would never want any of them to be subjected to anything but acceptance. I really think what you’re doing here (talking openly about how you are finding GLBT issues around the world) could be so great for new readers who feel as though they don’t want to travel because of discrimination.
    Julia recently posted..Hot and Hungover at St Louis Zoo

    • Thanks Julia, I agree with you it is very hard to hear these stories, but it’s these stories that must be shared and must be told. It’s these stories that will us in the future. They honestly break my heart, but I have faith in humanity that one day we will all have equal rights. I know I talk about my crazy moments on the road, buts its moments like this that I care about the most. I hope I can encourage others to get on the road who have been doubting if they can or can’t.

  16. Congrats on 100 days! (Well, more than that now!) Sorry I’ve been such a slacker about reading your (and everyone else’s) blog lately, life’s been crazy. I loved reading this post. I think it’s awesome that you’re not only living out your dream of seeing the world, but in a way you’re also giving a voice to GLBT people in other countries and making your readers aware of how different things are in other parts of the world. By the end of your trip, your blog is going to show amazing glimpses into how different cultures deal with these issues.
    Ali recently posted..We Got Married!

    • Thanks Ali, I am so glad I am abe to give a voice to the GLBT community around the world. I hope my readers enjoy them as much as I do. I can only hope at the end it does show glimpses into the GLBT communtiy around the world along with I am sure a few more scandalous post…lol!!! Ummm as for not reading my blog or others no need to apologize. I understand that you are going through some big changes (for the better) and are busy. I am just thankful you have been around as one of my readers for a long time now… thanks again Ali!!!

  17. Hi Jaime,
    Congratulations for the 100 days, that’s wonderful! And it gets better (atleast on the travel front) from now. The travellers and backpackers I met on my trips were always queer friendly and supportive, and that includes my couchsurfing hosts too. I hope some day people realise that discrimination agaisnt homosexuality, a natural phenomenon over which man have no say, is as ludicrous as discrimination against someone’s skin colour or factors like that.
    happy travels,
    Priyank recently posted..Toronto Tuesday 03.05: Port Credit, revisited

    • Thanks Priyank, I would have to agree it seems like backpackers and travelers all over the world are very Queer friendly. I have yet to have anyone treat me wrong just from the fact of me being gay. I also have faith that one day people will realize it is ludicrous to discriminate against us for just loving someone of the same sex.

  18. This was such an honest and touching post. Beautiful. I don’t understand the fear and intolerance in the world, especially in the US. You’d think we could all be respectful of humanity and celebrate our differences. I admire your courage, Jaime, and wish you all the best in your travels. BTW, My husband and I moved from the US to the Netherlands a few years ago. We’re learning great things about our new country. Tolerance and acceptance are main aspects of Dutch society and people are free to be who they are; same-sex unions are legal across the country. A refreshing change from the US.
    I haven’t read further in your blog, yet, so I don’t know if you’ve visited the Netherlands, but if you do, look us up. Take care and travel on…

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank you Gayla, yeah I don’t understand it either and don’t think I ever will. Thanks for the good wishes & for admiring my courage. Interesting that the two of you moved to Netherlands… I was there over a year ago for a week during gay pride it was amazing. Are either of you Dutch? I know how amazing they are towards the GLBT community and wish that one day the US would get it together and also get it.

      • You’re welcome! Neither my husband nor I are Dutch, both American. We decided it was time for a change, so here we are. We’ve been in Amsterdam during some of the gay pride events and it is amazing. To see so many people coming together in acceptance. We’re happy to live in such a place. Very different from the US, especially after living in North Texas for 12 years prior to coming here. Actually, we lived in Burleson, Texas – Home of Kelly Clarkson 🙂
        Gayla~ recently posted..Traveling carnivals

        • Jaime Davila says:

          Oh wow so you can just go there and live? What type of process is it? Oh & I’m so damn jealous you lived in Burleson. How fucking crazy… I’m so obsessed with her it’s scary jaja! I wanna visit her hometown one day.

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