Coming home and coming out in Chile


“A desert wasteland next to the beach.” That is how my guidebook described Arica, a small city in the middle of nowhere Chile. It was 2001, and I was looking up the place where I would spend the next two-and-a-half years with the Jesuit Volunteers Corps (JVC). Fresh out of college, I agreed to live anywhere in the world. They sent me to Arica, Chile.

While JVC and everyone at home knew I was gay, I could tell right away that I would not be able to come out to my Chilean colleagues. At the time in 2001, divorce was not even legal in Chile due to the overwhelming influence of the Catholic church. There was certainly no open conversation about sexual orientation.

My host family was a typical blue-collar Arica household where traditional family values were taken seriously. My Chilean papa, a retired military officer, ruled the household. When I entered their family, he told me “You are my daughter now. I don’t want you having any boyfriends until you bring them to meet me first, ok?” My Chilean papa is a man not to be messed with. Think Robert De Niro in “Meet the Parents”.


Lisa Dazols is a licensed clinical social worker who is in her tenth year in HIV services. She and her partner Jenni traveled all over the world meeting the LGBT community for their OutandAround blog project, which is now being made into a documentary.

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