People outside the supermarket watch the group gathering in the parking lot. They wear colorful clothes, have glitter on their faces and have colored flags and eyelashes. It’s past 3:20 p.m. at the supermarket at the intersection of Santa Marta in Nosara.
Suddenly, a woman gets out of a car and those who are watching from a distance turn their gaze to her. She’s wearing a huge diversity flag as a skirt and a T-shirt that says “Hugs from mom” on the back.
She, Vitinia Varela, sees the group about 20 meters away and wonders if her family will be the only “locals” who join the procession. The majority there seem, at first glance, to be foreigners or from elsewhere in Costa Rica, but few are from Nosara, Nicoya or Guanacaste.
This is the first time that a town in the province has organized to march within the framework of International Pride Day. Maybe that’s why some of the people outside the supermarket look at that scene with suspicion. It seems strange to them.
The group will walk about 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles), from here to Olga’s Bar, on Pelada Beach. Vitinia came today with her husband, Adolfo Murillo, her daughter, Ana Maria, and Grace, a member of the group that the couple founded three years ago: Amor a la Diversidad de Tila (Love of Diversity of Tila).
Suddenly, a voice interrupts the music. The event organizer, Roberto Acuña, gets on an ambulance from the local clinic, Paradise Medical, and says:
Today we’re telling Costa Rica that in Nosara, we’re a community where we defend respect, love and diversity. Today we are marching for all those boys and girls who at some point are afraid of feeling different,”he says. “We’re saying that there is a community that supports them.”
The wave of colors starts making its way through the streets of Nosara to the sound of one of the anthems of diversity.
Qué facil es atormentarse después
Sé que podré, sobreviviré
Dónde está nuestro error sin solución
¿Fuiste tú el culpable o lo fui yo?
Ni tú ni nadie, nadie, puede cambiarme
The people walk with energy, at a sure and courageous pace along the right lane of Route 160. Motorcycles, tuk tuks, cars and trucks pass by on the left. A good portion of them honk in a tone of support. Others, fewer, make faces that pierce like daggers at the costumes, the glitter, the flags, the colorful umbrellas, the posters and the dances. Nothing discourages the group. They sing, march and dance to the rhythm of electro-pop music.
Little by little, the multitude of colors gets bigger. By the end of the afternoon, it will be about 150 people, with several more locals joining.
[This] is being here in our own province, experiencing something that we thought was light-years away,” says Ana Maria Murillo, the daughter of Vitinia and Adolfo, as she marches wrapped in a flag. “We LGBTIQ+ people aren’t just in the GMA [Great Metropolitan Area]; we’re also in rural areas, throughout the country,” she adds.
Ana Maria is moved. Although she’s already participated in pride parades, this is the first one in Guanacaste and she’s part of the people who are making history this day. She holds back the knot in her throat. For years, she felt that to be a lesbian openly, she’d have to leave her hometown of Tilaran and move to San Jose.
And she did that. Later, she began taking on her orientation more and more, she told her parents and they, little by little, also began a process of acceptance. They now make up a support group for families and people of diverse sexual orientations from Guanacaste. Today they carry a banner that screams it.
Grace, who’s also from Tilaran, holds up the other end of the banner. This is her first pride march.
“At first, it scared me a little that there were so few people with us and that they called us insults, but after feeling so supported, with so many people and so much joy, I felt happier and happier,” she says.
Three years ago, she met Vitinia and Adolfo and, in them, found a warm family embrace and acceptance.
The march makes two stops. In the first, the group comes to a standstill on the bailey bridge. Roberto Acuña gets onto a car and, while a seated girl waves a flag, he dances to the rhythm of Ricky Martin.
Upside, inside out
She’s livin’ la vida loca
She’ll push and pull you down
Livin’ la vida loca
Everyone in the crowd watches him, records him, sings along to the song as they dance.
During the second stop, the group blocks both lanes of the street and forms a circle. In the middle, two dancers take over the space. They kick into the air, do handstands and play around with those in attendance.
‘Cause everybody’s living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
At this point, a small group of young locals have now joined in and will later show off their dance moves at Olga’s Bar while the sun begins to drop out of sight behind the ocean.
One of them is Michelle Jiron. She’s 22 years old and has huge eyes adorned with glitter. For her, this is her first time not only in a march, but in an activity with the LGBTIQ+ population in this community where she was born and raised.
I like to support my friends,” she says, pausing. “And I’m from the community too,” she admits with a slightly nervous smile. “I didn’t imagine this and if I ever did imagined it, this is much better.”
At the end of the march, Michelle looks for Vitinia to get the “hugs from mom” that she announces on her T-shirt. For Michelle, it’s the hug she hasn’t gotten from her own mom.
This finale gives a glimmer of hope. Roberto Acuña anticipated it earlier: “Today is the beginning of a community that’ going to have a more inclusive and more representative agenda for the LGBTIQ+ population of Nosara.”