Out of the Closet

“In the time of a parliamentary coup d'etat, the machos bloom, everything becomes heroic and manly. Among the abusers and the abused, nobody wants to be history's pansy. We are all men according to that which is imposed as the official dispute. Many flags, many anthems, much shouting, many orders, everything very militant. Luckily the resistance is odd and so there is resistance to such orthodox masculinity and militarism, from the right to the left. There is a preference for abandon, laughter, rashness and non-cooperation, for busting our asses before screwing, tickling and disarming. We resist and refuse to be hero or heroine, unless it comes in a syringe.”

In the middle of the cold season in our post-coup Paraguay, the hot political climate has created blasts of heat that have pushed many people out of the closet. If the concept of 'coming out of the closet' speaks of truths, power and relationships, and at the same time speaks of impostures, cover-ups, and disguises – how one presents oneself within the dynamics of social networks and constructs – then the term 'to come out of the closet' should be applicable to non-queer contexts, thus queering them.

Our Paraguayan society, hierarchical and hierarchy-making, dominated and domineering, stigmatised and stigmatising, is like all others in that it aims for final perfection, obliging itself to keep the erratic and erroneous, the diverted, the imperfect, the abnormal and abject in the darkness of the closet, partially by force, and partially by choice. The things that are hidden are those that irreparably deviate from normality, from the forced consensus on what is tolerably acceptable to everyone. This normality is statistical, suggestive and symbolic. Normality is established by coming to consensus on a symbolic 'just equilibrium' which is the ideal for every historic, political, social and generic context. A set of influences allows it, based on this ideal just equilibrium, to expand the borders of inclusive normality. So the symbolic negotiations allow, sometimes, for the inclusion of what was excluded at other times.

The arrival of Fernando Lugo to executive power in Paraguay allowed for the renegotiation of the borders and even the symbolic just equilibrium of Paraguayan normality. A sort of LGTBI scene achieved not only visibility, but also came to be a political 'object of desire' for the political parties, especially those on the left. This heterocentric and family-centric normality centres around the ideas of 'tolerance' and 'acceptance'. The borders expanded to the left and below, more or less to the height of the genitals – as long as the left wasn't too scandalous about it. Those same borders shrunk above and on the right: the church could give its opinions in order to try to gain influence over the executive branch once again.

Taking this normality back to the previous situation, with a 'just equilibrium' that is more reactionary and conservative, formed a part of the public agenda for Christian fundamentalist organisations, especially the Catholics. Pro-life and anti-abortion marches, parliamentary lobbying against legislative proposals on reproductive and sexual health, training of pro-life activists by their US counterparts and anti-LGTBI protests all formed a part of the range of efforts to return to the past that were carried out by the fundamentalist right.

In order to compensate for this, the executive power established a strong militarist agenda which strengthened the right, both around the middle and at the feet: police and military training at the hands of the armies, US and Colombian counterinsurgency, long-term military operations in the north of the country, anti-kidnapping and anti-guerrilla hysteria promoted by the Ministry of the Interior and amplified by the (invasive) mass communications media, which is also in the hands of the right. Unjust imprisonment of peasants, criminalisation of social movements, fear, torture, terror, abuse and corruption become entrenched in the north of Paraguay at the hands of the police and armed forces. In the rest of the country, the leftist participation in government allows for the amicable demobilisation of social movements.

Over the course of the last year, fundamental aspects of this situation changed: some social movements, both old and new, recovered their voice and action and went out into the streets to mobilise, without waiting for the government to negotiate with them a solution to their problems. The Ministry of the Interior was given to a progressive minister with a certain afinity for human rights. From there, the hard right promoted a radical return to the former landscape. The massacre of Curuguaty came to provide a path: first Lugo put forward a rightist and recalcitrant anti-leftist as Minister of the Interior, providing a sort of self-coup, and then to close the circle, the parliament removed the president from office, installing the pro-life and anti-LGBTI Vicepresident in charge of the executive.

This landscape of barely disguised coups, of the forced solution of political problems, restructuring of the country's political framework towards the right, has allowed the just equilibrium of normalisation and the borders of inclusion to be modified...towards the right. In the weeks after the coup we have seen how the rightists have come out of the closet.

The parliamentary coup d'etat of 22 June 2012 and its consequences have allowed for a movement of the symbolic social normality and what it permits. The result has been the appearance of discourses that are xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and lesbiphobic...the whole range and across the entire spectrum of political discussion, demonstrating how the changes in the imposed symbolic normality affect everyone who relates to the change. The response to the aggressive and intolerant discourse of the right is a preferably intolerant and aggressive discourse from the left. Faced with the patriotism and machismo of the right, the left presents itself as more patriotic and masculine. In the gay world this gives rise to some complex scenes which play out: one can be a 'whore', but from the logic of a resistance embodied in hetero masculinity.

They come out of the closet, these inner fascists, these micro-fascists, the neighbourhood fascists who corroborate with the great fascism that the new government embarrassingly shows as an image under construction. For the national holidays of the 15th of August, for example, a 'patriotic' parade for a free, sovereign and independent Paraguay has been announced, with students and their teachers and professors required to attend. The concept of 'sovereign' is a key word in the semantic dispute which the right continues to win. The concept hides xenophobia, militarism, machismo, warrior heroism and reference to Paraguayan 'martyrdom'. The right has imposed it on the left, who have created a variation of the concept in order to define what a a good sovereignty would be, one that doesn't hide those terms.

The fascists and fascisms come out of the closet, the abusers and the abuses come out of the closet, arrogance, discrimination and persecution prevail. The context of the coup allows and justifies this macho and fascist emergence from the closet.

Pelao Carvallo
in resistance
Asunción del Paraguay
17/07/2012