Issue 18.3, August 2003


Essay Excerpt

In June 2000, I returned to spend several weeks in Nicaragua after two years away and found the capital city of Managua transformed by the rebuilding ofan urban center, with new government buildings, immense traffic circles and plazas, and hotels and commercial establishments in abundance. My first day back, I ventured into one of two major shopping malls and discovered that the movie Boys Don't Cry (Muchachos no lloran, with subtitles) was playing at a multiplex cinema. In a city where a couple of years before the only movie theatres were exceptionally seedy and offered X-rated porn, I was curious to see what reception this film would have in the Nicaraguan setting soon after its release to wide acclaim in the United States. The audience at the matinee was small and fairly middle class—not surprising in a nation where the two-dollar ticket price was beyond the means of the majority—but it seemed to appreciate the movie's powerful story of sexual-identity transgression and its consequences in the American Midwest.

When it comes to sex and sexuality, some stories are told whereas others remain untold. Histories of sexuality everywhere are subject to revision and debate when local, national, or transnational conditions prompt caution on the one hand or allow more open discussion of sexual difference and transgression on the other. Periods of social transformation may present opportunities for personal or national reflection on the politics of gender and sexuality, or they may push such reflection to the margins in the name of settling larger historical accounts. But what happens when personal or local desires are supported by transnational political currents and then clash dramatically with perceived national interests? (p. 304).

From: Babb, Florence. "Out in Nicaragua: Local and Transnational Desires after the Revolution." Cultural Anthropology 18.3(2003):  304-328.