Aldo Castillo

Transcript of Interview: Date of interview: 2007-08-05 Interviewer: Tracy Baim

August 5, 2007 interview by Tracy Baim with Aldo Castillo.
The questions in this interview have been removed.

Aldo Castillo 8/5/07

My name is Aldo Castillo. I was born in Ocotal, Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua in 1956, in Central America.

I come from a large family in the small town. My father was a baseball player and my mom was only 14 years old when she married my father. I was the first child; I have eight brothers and one sister, and I am the oldest of all. And my family was very known in the small town [where] I was born.

Actually it was very interesting because I come from a Catholic family, but in a country that was revolutionary. So since we were little kids, we were getting messages that religions are good for people but we should be open to all of them, and make sure that we don’t get organized by the people in the church. The revolution provided us with knowledge about the Inquisition and things that the church did not do right, especially those of being gay. We belonged to an organization in the name of God and love, and yet they believed that I was going to go to Hell, and that was very life-threaten[ing] for me after awhile. But then I began more understanding, and the way I became more Catholic was to visit the architecture, the art, that it was made by Catholic people. And then I realized that all the art was threaten[ed] so by other religions, so that they’re saying that the Catholics created all this beautiful art but they were adoring or worshiping the devil. When in fact what they were doing, in raising art and so religion, was something different for me, but at the same time provided me with something positive.

The revolution impacted me very deeply because I not only lost many classmates through the revolution that they became involved [in], but I saw I was a target because since I was a little kid I was being educated, and intellectuals in revolutions are pretty much wanted basically when you’re growing up you know revolutions tend to brainwash young people. So some of us who were like good students, we were after knowledge, they also wanted us because the intellectuals, the leftist intellectuals, were the ones who were more organizers, and I think I was a target because of that idea. I was approached many times but I saw, I was very conscious, because my parents also knew that [if] I could be a target, any of their children [could be a target]. So they tried to protect us, to keep us away from all this happenings and so they keep us away since we were very very young.

When I was 14 years old, I was in high school, and it was the first time that I was approached by a classmate to join the Sandinista Revolution. This is like around 1974...73/74. And at that time I was already aware of my sexuality, but in our country people are gay I believe because they was born that way. And I was experiencing sex with older men. Classmates or other gay people I’m assuming now. But at that time, I didn’t know that I was gay—I thought that men you know teach the other one how to go about in our country during that time it was very common for a young man to become sexually active and to perform sex with a prostitute, you know, that was not my mother but my father would be very proud to know that a very young son is changing from a son to a man and that was the process. However, I was really scared because I wasn’t ready for that, and it were, I saw, times of change where cultural trends you know they were changing. The people were realizing that it didn’t need to be that way. So I was caught in between when the changes were occurring. Besides the ideas that I had then about being gay, it was transvestites and it was really hard for me the day that I found out that I really was gay, because I became homophobic. So when I saw a transvestite, it was really hard for me to accept a person because at the time I realized that it represented a person that I didn’t really want to be, because I wasn’t [like that]—now I am understanding. But I saw in my mind, thought, that people hated gays because if you’re gay you needed to dress as a woman and look like a clown. I mean, I have all these stereotypes about that.

In this little town where I was born, you know, it’s known for a lot of poets, musicians, artist and historians, and I was always surrounded by art, and I always was painting, you know, Greek and Roman culture. I had this idea to travel, to see art, but I had the need to learn other languages. At the time, French was the main language that most people were attracted to, but most of the books I was reading were in English, so I persuaded my parents to send me to the United States when I was 15. And I lived with this beautiful American family in Wisconsin, and it was my first real introduction to learn English. I was very lucky, too, because my American father was at one point a prisoner of war. And I was very curious about that, because that was happening in Nicaragua but I didn’t know about the United States, so I became very close to him, because I wanted to know about his experiences in [the] Second World War, and I wanted to, so it was an amazing thing, because it brought us together: in Nicaragua one and an older man from Wisconsin link, but it’s a war, but it was as though it brought us closer. Because after he died—he died at the age of 65—I realized that I was the outsider child, yet I was the one who knew everything about that part of his life that his own children, his own family, never asked.

After living in the United States I went back to this little town, and it was very difficult for me, you know, what it did is, I wanted to see more and I wanted to travel more. So the first thing that I did is, immediately when I went back, I needed to go to Nicaragua high school is five years. So I went back to my fourth year and I was, this is a great story, I was almost six months late since school started and my mom was begging the principal to take me in because she didn’t know what to do with me there all the time, you know, free. And the school accepted me with the understanding that I would go through tests. So I went to a classmate that was very intelligent that I was a great friend and he was teaching me every day all the classes based on all the tests that he took in all those months when I was away. So when they gave me the test, the teachers all of them gave me the same test that I have memorized, so I had straight A’s. you know, from day one, and I was able to pass to the following year without losing one. But the following year was the last year in high school and I went to a British school in the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua ,which is very unusual for people in general, even Nicaraguans, to go there because it’s a Black... it’s a part of the continent that there were colonies of England, British colonies, so the culture there is all Black, you know, a lot of slaves were taken there. They had British traditions and the school was Moravian, which is the first Protestant church out of England. And they were in charge of this school, so it was wonderful for me, because I was now experiencing the idea that you can be in places led by other churches, that is, not Catholic. And the other thing is, the main thing why I went there, is because the English aspects.

After living in this place on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, called Puerto Cabezas, I was ready for college, and in 1976 I moved to Guatemala City. I first went to Guatemala as a tourist and I loved it, so I decided to study architecture. Guatemala historically in Latin America is a very important location, and they have the national university that is really famous, and I moved there. However, when I moved there, I realized then that politics even when I was affected by it—and to this day I’m affected by it—but it’s not what I wanted to follow. It was art. So I studied architecture and I went to the national university there [in] San Carlos, but then the university, the entire university, was leftist. They were giving voice to leftists in Guatemala and the difference between the people that I was encountering was that they were being trained with arms. So I decided to move to a private [university], in Guatemala City also, Rafael Landivar, which is the university that I graduated from.

It started in Guatemala City, my first encounter with people dealing with the arts. In Guatemala, besides anthropologists and archeologists from the United States, I used to work as a museum curator in Guatemala City at the Popo Brum museum. And the museum was not allowed to purchase pre-Columbian art because people smuggled the artwork or they went and opened archeological sites, and the museum didn’t want to promote that idea. However, they wanted to rescue the pieces that were already out. So part of my job was to go to antique stores to find those objects. So we’ll give it to a wealthy person. They will buy it and then donate it to the museum. And in those places I encountered some Americans that were buying those objects and they were taking [them] out of the country in times where there were no laws. Yet those were national patrimonies of Guatemala. And I encountered a gallery owner from Chicago. I was very very nasty to him because of what he was doing, and eventually I got a letter at the museum explaining that that he was aware of what he was doing. Yet these pieces were documented, they were restored, some of them, they were preserved and they were passed along to museums and collectors that knew the history and they had respect for those objects so I should not be worried because, at the end of the day, they were being photographed, documented and the history traced. So I became more relaxed, and that gave me the idea about [coming to] Chicago, and then the School of the Art Institute—that was my main attraction, to go to a school like that.

In 1985 I moved to Chicago, in September, and the following year I was already going to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They granted me with a scholarship and they gave me the scholarship because of my background in the arts, because I was an artist already, and I wanted to explore new media and new techniques to continue my artwork. Unfortunately those were hard times for the United States and for Nicaragua because I came here when Reagan was in power, and he was promoting the illegal war between the Sandinistas and the United States. So he formed the Contra revolution, and that went on not only with Reagan but also with Bush’s father. And I was Nicaraguan and my family back in Nicaragua, if you lived there, it was more likely that you were involved. So one of my brothers was a pilot for the Sandinistas, educated in Russia, and one of my sisters worked with Daniel Ortega in [the]literacy [movement]. So the CIA in the United States was very aware of Nicaraguans here, and they approached me to go there to get my brother because he was the biggest threat, I’m assuming, to the war. And many things happened there, so I lost my scholarship [and] I stopped my studies. I had to hire a lawyer, and then the lawyer had to wait a long time to get my political asylum because even though there was a war, the United States could not prove to themselves that a Nicaraguan going back there was going to be in danger. So they needed to gain time to document what could happen to Nicaraguans going back, and I argued that I’d moved from Guatemala to Chicago not from Nicaragua to Chicago, that I was not a communist, [and] I was not convincing Americans to become leftists. And more than anything, I had no arms, so the fear went away and I became more knowledgeable that we should be very aware of what human rights are, and that we are entitled to have rights. So that was the beginning of dealing with the arts and my ideas about being conscious that we need to become clear and organized and protect what we have, but also protect what is changing or maybe change some laws that would apply to other people so they don’t go through what like I went through.

Several years passed before my asylum, my political asylum, was granted—and when I got it I couldn’t believe it, you know. First of all, because even though my history was political, my goals and my mind were set in the arts. So it was very difficult to see that I was involved, and how life and circumstances involved you deeply into it. You know, here’s a person that wants to go to the Art Institute because it’s one of the most amazing schools in the world, and instead of getting a diploma or a title, I get a political asylum. It was very...not difficult, but shocking.

When I came here in 1985 and 86, when I was totally new in this city, I started to go to gay bars and I was shocked to see how many there were. At that time I also met Ron Sable. [He] was the first politician [who] was running as an alderman openly gay. And I was meeting all these people, like the owners of Sidetrack Art and Pepe, and I was meeting Tom Tunney and organizations like IMPACT that were supporting politicians that supported the gay community. So it was very amazing for me to see that I was in a place where people were active, they work together, and there was freedom. However, though, there were a lot of disappointments because many people were dying from AIDS. And ACT-UP and The Guardian Angels, and, you know, there were so many organizations, also, I think out because again the government was not sympathetic with the issues, especially AIDS. And I was confronted that the community actually was struggling, and I think I came into a place where the people were working together because we were being knocked down by a disease and we needed to fight [for] rights and ideas because the government it took so long for them to do it. But also the arts were so important because Whoopie [Goldberg], you know, she went to HBO and brought up all those issues. And I was fascinated that despite all those hardships we go through politically, we still can go to the arts and be educated, relax, and be inspired to keep changing. The other thing that you want to know is that being gay, especially [for a] man, is a very promiscuous society, and I come from a place where romance comes first. And don’t get me wrong—I think gay people are the same everywhere. However, the cultural differences exist. So a way to approach somebody was that every person you were going to be with is a potential love of your life. And it was very hard for me, because when I encountered Americans and they saw me with that attitude, they said ‘Aldo, you’re too deep’ or ‘you’re too dramatic’ or you know, it was hard for me until I realized that the gay society that I encountered in Chicago was more practical. I think people wanted just to be straightforward, and now I became an American. When I go back there I do the same thing.

[At the beginning I encountered fellow Hispanics Latinos because we were involved in a Stop AIDS and we were trained in different areas so we could target the African American community the Latino community so I got to be with a lot of Latinos within my group because my community was a big concern. It was really interesting because the stereotypes exist everywhere.] When I worked at Stop AIDS, and we were being trained to take care of people within my community, but we needed to explore what the stereotypes are. The first one was that we were perceived by Americans, you know...we have these titles: “Passionate,” “Latin Lover,” and all of that, and it was really hard to keep up with that idea all the time, because in my way of thinking at that time it’s flaky, it’s something that is empty. I wanted to be known for knowledge, for how intelligent you might be or what you’re studying, or whatever. But that was the first thing that I encountered, that I was perceived one way by other people. The second thing was Latino, the word “Latino.” “Latino” is the root of Spanish language, so I had to encounter that for the first time I also had a label as a human, and that was another issue that I was facing. But the worst one was that I was Nicaraguan who came to Chicago, but then Latinos were perceived as Mexican immigrants. Most of them were poor people, they probably crossed from Mexico to Los Angeles first, and so everybody thought that [because of] the fact that I was here, all my traditions were Mexican, and I was treated like one, to the point that many times I went to these social gatherings and people would ask me, “What do you do?” And I used to say “Oh, I’m a busboy,” and they would say “oh how interesting…” [They] didn’t know I was joking, but [it was] because after a while you need to laugh about things. You need to know that people are the same everywhere. It’s not that they are bad people; it’s that they don’t know that they are making a mistake.

The Association of Latin Men for Action, ALMA, was very important because first of all it brought a group of people together to realize that we all, as a group, could empower things, which means that we were empowering ourselves. So it gave us a sense of stability and a sense of knowing we can become role models with good intentions. My main concern [was that] it was preventing people from getting infected. I became infected with HIV because I thought at the time that it would happen to other people, not to me. I was a traveler, I studied, I was an artist, and I knew all these amazing people everywhere so I thought that I was exempt from the virus, yet it got me, and that time I realized that we all are very fragile and we all were in danger. So I wanted to be with them and I think their role is very important. But it’s also very important because I understand marketing, for marketing purposes seeing [target] audiences—the African Americans, Latinos, Anglo, Chinese—it’s good for the market but when it comes down to people, it can be bad for you because you’re perceived as an outcast. You’re perceived as a minority. And we go through rejection. And it has happened to me twice—not only for being gay, I went through all of that, but also being Latino. It put me in a different category. So yes, my answer to you is that these organizations are very important. I was very proud to be part of that, and I always will be supportive of them.

So the first time that I knew about this it was very difficult because at that time, it was right now I can tell you it was almost 16 years ago, at that time it was a life sentence for me, so I was operating and living with the understanding that I only had a year to live. And it was shocking. However it was so very difficult for me because there were medications like AZT; it was given to people, and I was allergic to it. So I was the only one not taking the medication and that empowered more the idea that I was going to go a lot quicker. But along the way I was very lucky to find out that AZT actually helped kill the people who were taking it, and the fact that I didn’t take it made me survive, when it comes to medication. When it comes to the mind, I do believe now that people who die are the people who really want to die.’s sad for me to say this but [it] empowered me, and instead of seeing it like I did at the beginning, like a punishment from God, then I realized that it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it made me organize my mind, and because I thought that I had very little time, instead of thinking of me I wanted to think about others. I didn’t want them to go through the same thing I went through. I understood that there was not a cure but it was really hard, it was very sad, and one day I saw provided me with a perspective on my life before. And I was very proud of being Nicaraguan, I was very proud of the people I’d met, my life in general, the opportunities I got, more than anything my education—I was very lucky that my parents gave me an amazing education and an education that I chose. I just told them what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and they supported all of that. And that was an instrument that I had with me that made me thought that I could be, not a leader at that time, but a role model.

Many things happened after these stories that I’m telling you. One of those was that because the US, through the CIA, took away my scholarship at the School of the Art Institute, I had to survive like everybody else, and I worked at Marshall Fields then as a sales person. And I met there a gay friend that is dead now, and he died from AIDS and we used to socialize not out of the store but in the store. And after, when I moved on from the store, I was working in a restaurant as a waiter and I was drinking. I was very, like, lost—it was the last process of all the effects of what I went through because of these issues with the CIA, but I didn’t know what my path was, what I needed to do, so I just took these jobs to make money, but then I lost track of my goals—what I was, an artist. And I was very lucky that I encountered a British man, Richard Richards; he was the director of human resources for Hyatt International and I met him in 1992, and one day he saw me struggling. I was drinking and had no...I didn’t know what to do. But he was very bright, and he realized that I was an artist, and he offered me the opportunity to become an art patron for my own art. And when I got the gift I decided that I wanted to share that with other artists, and it’s how the Aldo Castillo Gallery was born in 1993.

The Aldo Castillo Gallery made history in the city because it was the first time that a gallery was committed to Latin American art in general. Not just Mexican, not just Puerto Rican, you know, but everything—including Latino artists living in the United States. Through the gallery, in this beautiful city, after all the things that I went through, I learned to love the city. And the best thing that I did at that time was to embrace that this is my house, this is my home, and I’m an American. This is the place that I went through a lot, yet it was my place. But then I noticed that most people did not know what Latinos are all about. I talked to you earlier about stereotypes, but they didn’t know that we are a mix of so many things from the indigenous, to Spaniards, French, Germans, Americans, there are Indians, there are people like mestizos—people mixed Indians mixed Spaniards, white people... It’s a mix of so many races. The biggest migrations of Chinese are in Brazil and in Peru and Mexico, too. Cuba was a country known for that. So we come from places where all these people are so many faces, so the cultures are very complex, from the pre-Columbian to the Colonial to modern, postmodern, contemporary—but Chicago was missing that information. And I thought that the arts would be a great tool if I bring it here, if I put it here on our walls, the people would benefit from enjoying the art like they always do, but also about learning about these people’s cultures, which is something that I myself was also learning. I didn’t come with all that info; I realized along the way that I was one of them also. So it work out for me, too.

My own artistic expression it was...every time I talk to you, you might think I’m a victim you might think I’ve been a victim all along which is not true, but I think in my case all those struggles make me very strong, and I’m proud that I did struggle and that was not an exception within my own art. In Guatemala City I worked at the museum dealing with art and artists and I also was working as a graphic designer and a student of architecture but I was automatically producing my own art. And my art at that time, the inspiration was the difference between textures. You know that you can have a smooth texture and then textures that are rough. So the subject matter of my artwork was women and birds. Women because their hairs were long at that time. When women started to cut they hair it was a sign of evolution, you know, they wanted to become more equal, but growing up women didn’t have to do that, so they were very proud of their femininity. So long hair was okay and it worked for them. And that was my inspiration. You know many men artists always portray the women, a lot of them, as objects of beauty, sexual objects. You know there is always that fine line. But in my case, I was interested in the textures between their skin, their hair, and the fact that I can move their bodies in any way that I wasn’t able to do with men because when I made a man with the movements that I used to give the artwork, automatically the men look feminine. So women provided was easier for me. Unfortunately, when I came to the School of the Art institute, one of the most prominent schools in the world, and the fact again that I was Latino—there were very few Latinos in the school, and when they saw that I was concentrating in women with long hair, automatically they assumed that those women were Madonnas, Madonnas from Catholic religion. And in this city, and I don’t know if in the entire country, being Jewish is something that is in our everyday life. So when you’re Catholic and you’re dealing with issues based in Catholicism, you know, people see it that that’s not cool. And I didn’t understand then what the point was, but I was pursued to move on, to leave that aspect of that artwork, but the thing is it was my style. So when somebody [persuades] you to change your style it… I couldn’t do it, so it prevented me from doing artwork for a while. I did it, but not very prolific, and I was very interested in dealing with the art as an educator. But I realize that I’m an artist, and I always have to produce art, otherwise psychologically I’m affected if I don’t do that.

Well to start with, I am one of them, a proud member of the gay community and it was very important for me to let the community know that I wanted to be supportive of us as a group. I understand the struggles that we went through, not only because of AIDS but also because of politics; there are so many rights that we don’t enjoy. But also with the arts, I was able to talk about issues, and the people that I was not able to support, the artists, because they were not necessarily Latinos, because the gallery specializes in Latin American art—then I became involved being a board member in organizations like the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. As I said, I worked in Impact, and I was dealing with other organizations [like] Chicago House, and I wanted to support this organization the Names Project by approaching artists to donate our work to them, or to use the gallery, or to do so many things, including dating. There was a time that I created a program called “Meet a Stranger at the Gallery” because I wanted to provide people with the idea that you can meet other people and not necessarily in bars all the time.

Now I have two galleries, the Aldo Castillo Gallery, which is to this day the main gallery representing Latin American art in this city, and I felt that I have a big responsibility with it. If it closed, then there will be no representation for these artists in this city, and I think this is one of the greatest cities in this world and should have something like that. The second thing is that I opened a new gallery for contemporary art, and it is very different because I have become an art dealer. Now I feel that I’ve paid my dues educating. People are more conscious to know about Latin American art. It’s important within the fields of art in general, but then I was deprive from joining in other forces of the art, that it is non-Latino. So this gallery is providing me with that opportunity to work with artists from all over the world, where I can really explore all the new trends in art. This new technology, and I need to be current, and I became director of the River East Art Center, the creative director. There I can explore giving opportunities to all these artists from all over the world, but as I open a gallery there, where I’m still a dealer, the art dealer.

I love Chicago because it doesn’t let me go. As simple as that. You know, every time, which is quite often, I’m entertaining people coming to the city and I show them how amazing this city is. However, the art community, especially in my field, which is art dealers, is very competitive. And even though I don’t have competition when it comes to another gallery representing Latinos in it, I’ve been prevented to this day from participating in Art Chicago, which is the main art fair in this city. When you apply to be in an art fair, you take the chance to be rejected. It’s a fact. It’s okay. It happens to everyone. The problem is that Art Chicago often takes people from the Chicago Dealers Association, which are considered the top galleries in town, and I am a member of—but historically, some members get in and they themselves have prevented some people like me from being in it because they have a bias. Just this year, Roy Boyd, the president of the Chicago Dealers Association, is serving in the selection committee of Chicago, and I couldn’t believe that one of my colleagues is put in a situation like that. So it been hard for me, because I’m not talking about discrimination, but I’m talking about that being a member of the Chicago Dealers Association I’ve been prevented the opportunity to step into the market place. For example, I also still in 15 years, 14 years the gallery’s been open, I’ve never been reviewed by Alan Artner, the main art critic from the Chicago Tribune. So there were many challenges within my own art community that kept me, you know, like pissed off but inspired to remember that my mission was to work on barriers. So I said the things I tell you, the history that I face, but at the same time there are negative aspects, but there are positive aspects, because those issues keep me strong and more professional, you know. I can openly tell you about these people, but I can also tell you that Art Chicago is great for our city and that Roy Boyd, I love his gallery and I think he is a great man. It’s just that it’s up to us being in the community to be good to each other instead of bad to each other, and when they make mistakes you need to be forgiving, you need to be respectful.

The first thing that comes to mind [to say to a 20-year-old gay man today] is: Don’t get infected. That’s all. Because I think the young generations are provided with more knowledge. I think the work that you and I have done is helping them already. I think they know that they can use condoms. We passed that time when that was controversial, that we were promoting sex instead of promoting ‘don’t get infected’. But still, getting infected is a risk that young people still face, and more than ever because less people dying from AIDS yet the disease is there, and because we don’t talk about that much anymore, they might think that it’s okay. But it’s not okay.

Yes, I think the young generations, gay and straight, are growing to be more understanding. And I see that with my family. You know, my family is very female oriented, like any Latino community, but my family had learned to be proud of myself, to be understanding, to ask me questions. One time I had a great conversation with my mom because she’s still very Catholic, and when she sometimes wanted to communicate with us, she approached us that way. And one time I told her, I said, “Mom don’t be upset. This is an organization that thinks I am going to go to Hell. Don’t expect me to be supportive. I’m still Catholic because I believe in God, but the idea of the church, no. And it’s the fact that I was gay and rejected that way.” And she understood that, and it’s very amazing and respectful. So are my brothers and sisters, and my nieces and nephews. Now they ask openly, “Hey, do you have a boyfriend? You know, like are you gonna bring a boyfriend?” And they are looking for it. There is another thing that I want to tell you, one of my nephews, he was name dAldo like me, and when he turned 14 years old I asked him to dinner and I wanted to tell him that I was worried because they named him Aldo because of me, but I wanted to tell him that I was gay and that it was not easy and I don’t want any child to be gay because it was very hard for me, and I didn’t want him to be gay but however, you know, I have no control. But I wanted to tell him from my own mouth that I was gay, so he didn’t get the information from other sources. And he smile and went to tell my brother, and my brother came to me smiling and said “You didn’t have to tell him.” I said yes, I had to tell him because he’s named after me and thatis a big responsibility for me, so he needs to know who I am. So both were very understanding, and they thought that it was not necessary, so I can see that evolution had happened, yet not everywhere.

Politically, you know, my life, as I told you before, has been affected all along. And I can clearly tell you that all of us are affected by politics. We think we’re not, but we are ruled by it. I am an American not only because I was born in the American continent, but also because I was granted that privilege to be an American with an American passport. I do believe that I have contributed to society through the arts, and that I think it’s a big accomplishment, that it made me feel very good about myself, very proud of it. The only thing that I often worry is that until now Americans are becoming more aware, you know, how the people that we elect can impact our lives. War is about killing. And we know that most of the world’s wars were done in the name of religion often, which means that we killing other people because of the way that they think, not because they are taking over the United States in this case. The people who are killed and the people who kill, in my way of seeing, I think they both are victims. Bush the father, when I moved to this country, he was a bad person. He lied to the American people. He created an illegal war in one of the poorest countries, in place just because he didn’t like what [the] other country was doing. And he did that because he was working for the CIA and he was working with Reagan before, and I think he was the main motor between all of that. Oliver North, drugs, and a lot of things. At that time, the American people were very naive, I think. They didn’t believe that their government can do something like that. I’m very happy to know that we are becoming more aware now, especially the gay community, because this government has been very harsh on us. I remember when prisoners during this war were tortured, and some of the torture was to put them naked one on top of another, simulating that they were gay, and I couldn’t believe that these people utilized the fact of being gay to torture somebody. To degrade somebody. Which means that they don’t get us. Bush, you know...I became American, I went to get my passport to be able to vote against him, and I always will be very proud of that also. I think he[has] been really bad for us. I think he draws people through fear. He draws people through preventing us from feeling secure or understanding. He divided us, and I can’t wait for him to go away. I do believe in Americans. They are bright, I think at the beginning they were naïve, because the government hid a lot of things. I think now we’re more aware, and I think we can make better choices. And that history between Nicaragua and the United States, since I was a little kid, kept me always aware of those dealings. Invasion, occupation, know it’s difficult for me to believe it. All the decisions in Nicaragua growing up were made in the American Embassy, not by our presidents—our presidents were puppets of the US. And I think Bush, our actual president, thinks that way, and we the people have a voice and we have control and I think, I hope, things are going to change because we can make better choices now.

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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