This guest post was written by Andre Rivas, a member of Outright International's LBQ Connect Sounding Board. Rivas is a nonbinary lesbian and the president of the Diverse Families Association of Argentina (AFDA). Outright asked Rivas to reflect on the significance of Pride in Argentina and the recent election of an anti-democratic and anti-gender President.
Pride is Democracy
This year’s Pride in Argentina on November 4 held historical and critical significance: it marked 40 years of uninterrupted democracy, and at the same time, we were marching just weeks before a presidential runoff election that cast shadows over Argentina’s democratic identity. One presidential candidate, Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza, who was to emerge victorious in the 19 November runoff election, represented the opposite of what Pride stands for. His platform denied our rights and existence as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people. Milei is far-right and avowedly anti-gender, proposing a biological determinist ideology that will set back decades of gains for women and queer people. Part of his campaign was based on hate speech that increased violence against our community. Moreover, he represents a denialist stance regarding Argentina's history of State terrorism. It was impossible for me not to recall the years I lived through during the dictatorship that reigned over Argentina from 1976 to 1983, unable to choose, feeling fear when the power went out in my neighborhood and my mom asked me to stay still and silent. I knew something bad was happening: the military was searching for people to kidnap and make disappear.
This moment found me reclaiming the pride of those who, in 1992, defied the mandate of shame and called on everyone to become a community at Argentina’s – and South America’s – first-ever Pride march. Our rainbow flag is political, a reminder of the slogan of Argentina’s queer pioneers, "At the origin of our struggle is the desire for all freedoms." In this context, we had to carry our flag and our pride to denounce the extreme right, which, through political violence and hate speech, attacks the rights we have achieved. That's why, this time, we said that pride is not just about LGBTIQ people’s rights: Pride is democracy, and it's about defending a country for all, just and sovereign.
Before starting Pride, we paid tribute to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who continue to protest in memory of their children who were disappeared by the dictatorship. One of them came to speak to us. Our skin tingled as she told us that the time to vote was approaching, and we had to do it with joy because it meant we were in a democracy. We listened to her words while embracing each other, feeling the concern and anguish in our hugs but also sensing the tenderness of being part of a resilient, survivor community like no other. Because every Pride is a triumph of a collective social, cultural, and political construction of the LGBTIQ+ community that needs to be strengthened. That is why Pride continues to be a political response to shame, violence, and exclusion. Our driving force is empathy, along with the solidarity that has bolstered our networks against the attacks of cis-heteropatriarchal violence.
We had prepared signs that made our demands crystal clear: "My Rights Are Not Negotiable," "Pride is Democracy," and "Comprehensive Sexual Education to decide." I didn't actually expect young folks to be interested in carrying signs during the march. I thought they'd prefer dancing without the burden of holding anything. Nevertheless, we made them anyway. We had to make our demands visible. When we raised the signs, I was surprised at how quickly young people approached to carry them prominently. As we marched, we saw that people who didn't belong to organizations had created their own signs: "Don't vote with hate." It was clear that we wouldn’t let politicians take away our hard-earned rights.
In this Pride, we carried a huge flag that cleared a path for us with the motto: "Pride is Democracy." It was a massive political statement that filled the streets with joy, and we returned home with hearts full of love but with no time to rest because election day was coming. We didn't stop advocating. On election day itself, anxiety was hard to contain.
Just a few hours after the polls closed, the newly elected president was announced: Javier Milei. I fell into silence for a while; I looked at my 10-year-old trans son, and my wife and I held hands tightly. While the shock left me feeling as if time had come to a standstill, my young son suddenly broke into exclamations and smiles. He shared that in his school grade's WhatsApp chat, one of his peers was celebrating Milei's victory. However, another of his classmates responded with a powerful message: "Why are you celebrating? Milei wants to close down the public schools we all attend. It's not in your best interest or anyone else's." In that moment, everything fell into place once again. We must persist, more united than ever, continuing to fight just as we always have – with joy, with remembrance, with love. And let's remember, democracy is our source of pride. Because only with strong democratic institutions can we live fully – we as queer people, our children, and all Argentinians.