Costa Rica LOVES to market itself as an extremely 'gay friendly' travel destination but I can tell you, living here gay is a completely other matter.
Our belief about living gay in Costa Rica is that Costa Rica takes former President Clinton’s, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for military gays, one step further- culminating in, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Don’t ACT’…… GAY in Costa Rica. Most Costa Ricans have the exact same attitudes toward gay folks as the majority of North Americans held back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Read that as- ‘IT’S A SIN.’ However, it should be noted; Ticos are some of the nicest people on the planet, and wouldn’t normally think about discriminating you to your face. We’ll get back to that later.
Many gays that live here in Costa Rica voiced that we should act as ‘gay’ as we want out in public; as that’s the only way the country will eventually change its attitudes and views regarding homosexuals. That is indeed true, but it won’t be at OUR expense. The most effective ‘POSITIVE’ impact will come from gay Ticos themselves. As gringo’s living here, we are not viewed as real citizens (and WE'RE not), and in fact, would come across like we’re ‘pushing’ our gayness where it’s not wanted, which also won't win any points. Although I do realize BEING who you are in public can help shed some of the misconceptions with some folks. But therein lies the problem.
You’ll frequently hear many other gay, expat gringos say they’re ACCEPTED by their ‘straight’ Tico friends, or by the community in general in which they live. This is probably true, but only because the gay couple in question, act in public, as if they’re merely friends. I got a million bucks saying unless you knew they were gay, and you might, you wouldn’t necessarily KNOW they were gay. Knowing ‘gay’ and seeing the act of ‘gay’ are entirely two different things- know what I mean? So they fulfill the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and especially the Don’t ACT’ policy to a tee. So why wouldn’t they be accepted? Let them start ‘acting gay’ and rest assured, things would be quite different very quickly.
Personally, we’ve been blatantly discriminated against, in probably the most popular restaurant in La Fortuna, Don Rufino’s. It was U-G-L-Y. One of the owners had no problem loudly voicing his dislike and disdain for “us GAYS” in front of about 15-20 patrons. And take my word for it, not one person had the guts to stand with US- Ticos or Gringos, friends or not. We have NEVER set foot in their AGAIN.
What is TRUE, if you’re ONLY visiting Costa Rica, gay couples can often get away with MUCH MORE gay-like behavior. Tico’s just figure it’s those, ‘CRAZY, GAY, GRINGOS,’
Just remember, why do you think 80% of gay Ticos are STILL in the CLOSET? The exact same reason it can still be difficult to 'come OUT' in the STATES- Matthew Shepard was NOT that long ago and some are extremely uncomfortable with the possibility of losing their entire family- Yeah, it happens here, a LOT.
Mine and D'Angelos Video: Gay Traveler vs. Living GAY in Costa Rica. Hope it Helps!
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