In a class I gave last week, I learned something terrible about a female student of mine. Whilst teaching 'La Familia' in English I asked some students to tell me about their own. 'How many brothers and sisters do you have?' etc...Student's answers were following normal lines until we reached a certain girl.
The girl informed me of how many she had (a lot) but soon added that she'd lost one. This being a brother. I never know what to say apart from 'I'm very sorry' when I hear people say such saddening things yet if I thought that part was difficult to reply to - I had no idea what was coming next. I didn't press her of course as to how the brother died - she offered it straight up in clear Spanish. 'Lo mataron' or 'they killed him'. Being in Honduras, where murders are a tragic normality - I assumed immediately that it would be something to do with criminality. I wasn't thinking the brother would have been a criminal per say yet I thought he may have met his end of the hands of gangbangers perhaps - as many innocent people do here.
To combat the queer silence that unfolded I decided to ask 'ellos eran criminales? Los asesinos?'. She replied that they were not criminals - those who killed her brother. The reason came out at this point. The girl explained that her brother was gay. He met a violent death on account of being a maricon...a faggot. Homosexual intolerance or rather homophobia are indeed something quite rampant within Latin America. I understood beforehand that this very religious part of the world sees homosexuality as a threat to the family amongst other things yet I'd no idea of how some 'deal' with gays - murdering them by way of machete or lynching - as my student graphically detailed. I actually think, if I understood her fast-paced Caribbean Spanish correctly - that her brother was killed in such a fashion.
The class picked up again after that. I'm sure we all thought that she'd told us the story very matter-of-factly as indeed many people do when they've lost someone in such circumstances. To conclude on this disturbing tale, I'm actually not so sure of what to say. Whilst I myself am not homosexual and have found myself a few times quite uncomfortable discussing attraction for the same sex - I would never seek to hurt physically or emotionally someone of that persuasion. Their choices, their life is how I see it as long as it isn't rammed in my face. To murder someone and indeed in such a brutal way, solely for their being gay - is beyond my comprehension. Just another 'throw-away' tale I've been told whilst here in El Porvenir...