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Smith College

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


The social and political reality of contemporary Chile continues to be characterized by hegemonic social conservatism and restrictive and often violent government. Within this context, studies of sexuality and deviations from normative sexuality in Chile have historically focused on certain identity groups—namely gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual/gender populations—in relation to this conservative context. Previous work on specifically lesbian and gay individuals focus on the relationship between identity formation and social realities. Gay and lesbian studies in Chile are often based in Santiago; as the capital and the largest metropolitan area, the 15th Region is the site of the most GLBT organizations and the largest and most visible GLBT population.

This research seeks to expand the horizons of sexuality and identity studies in Chile. The objective of this study is to examine the existence of non-heteronormative and non-heterosexual community and space in Valparaíso. The investigation consists of descriptive, ethnography-based research within these spaces as well as subjective interviews of five individuals working within these spaces regarding their opinions towards the existence of community/ies and specifically non-heterosexual space. With these two parts, the investigation attempts to present a detailed and multifaceted representation regarding the existence of non-heterosexual and non-heteronormative space and community in Valparaíso.

The results of the investigation, through personal observations and the words of the subjects, reveal that there is not a clearly defined community. The study shows, however, that there are networks of people and transitory moments of community among the non-heterosexual population. Similarly, though clearly defined physical spaces do not exist, there are transitory and contextual non-heteronormative spaces.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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