LGBTQ Politics in Nicaragua: Revolution, Dictatorship, and Social Movements


Drawing upon years of political engagement and research in Nicaragua, as well as a deep network of contacts, Karen Kampwirth’s book LGBTQ Politics in Nicaragua: Revolution, Dictatorship, and Social Movements offers a compelling, in-depth examination of lesbian, gay, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) politics. Taking a historical approach to LGBTQ organizing, culture, persecution, and resistance, Kampwirth also offers the reader new insights into Nicaraguan politics, particularly in terms of the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s (FSLN) more subtle use of clientelism and cooptation. Kampwirth’s command of the subject is extensive and her analysis is incisive. Having conducted 120 interviews and nearly two decades of fieldwork, especially in Managua between 2011 and 2017, she contextualizes Nicaraguan LGBTQ politics in relation to Latin American and global organizing, but maintains that each country’s LGBTQ history is unique in identity construction and organizing (Kempwirth cites “LGBTQ” as the term used most recently in Nicaragua). This includes an exploration of local usage of terms such as cuir, gay, and cochón. As Ana Victoria Portocarrero from the collective Operación Queer explained, “for many of us Cuir is not the same as queer. I think Cuir is a way of placing ourselves in that which is queer but within the Latin American experience.” Elyla, also of Operación Queer, takes an intersectional approach to differentiating between “gay” and “cochón.” “A gay is a homosexual with a car, with a house, with a job,” Elyla explained. “A cochón is someone who lives, who struggles, who is in the street…who does not get work because he does not fit into the classist logic…because he is very black.”

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