Home Institution

Duke University

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


In Valparaíso, Chile, there is a teeming queer presence in the streets and public spaces. Expressions of queerness can be seen in Plaza Anabel Pinto in the way in which people dress or style their hair, can be heard from the small plaza in front of the Severin Library with the voguing/kiki music blasting at nights, and is grafittied on the walls all around the city. This presence and visibility is met with violence and accompanied by precarious life situations. It was my goal through this investigation to explore this relationship between violence and visibility as it is contradicted and maintained through queer community expressions in public spaces in Valparaíso.

The relationship between community and territory is one that has been important in other queer studies in the past to evaluate how this underground culture and community is created when based, to an outsider’s eye, merely on shared sexual preferences. Public displays of community, in the form of community lunches, dances, clubs or protests all go to show that there is a deeper culture than merely the sexual preferences of the members of the community.

My project has been created through a series of personal interviews, observations and participation in the community, and reading queer theories native to Chile and Valparaíso. All of which culminate in this essay and in my accompanying collage/map of a queer/kuir/marica Valparaíso. My investigation shows the importance of public spaces as areas to ritualistically and autonomously define a culture and politic of a community which historically has been defined by the heteropatriarchy and dominant culture. Public spaces are also a place of care, support, and safety for individuals in the community. Finally, public spaces are important for people to explore and define themselves and their own identities in relation to the queer community and also in relation to a dominant culture that is constantly surveilling them. The process of learning to navigate the city as a queer person, is a process of learning how to navigate a queer identity in yourself, and is a process of learning how to navigate a world that can be dangerous and precarious for queer people. Valparaíso is an deeply interesting case study for this phenomenon because of its specific geography, history, and culture as a port city, a university city, and a “flojo” or loose city.


Civic and Community Engagement | Gender and Sexuality | Graphic Design | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Sociology of Culture | Urban Studies and Planning

CIR_ISP_mapa_Steven Powell.pdf (43 kB)
Collage/map of a queer/kuir/marica Valparaíso

Related Files CIR_ISP_mapa_Steven Powell.pdf (43 kB)
Collage/map of a queer/kuir/marica Valparaíso


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