By Daniela Brik
Quito, Jul 14 (EFE).- Quito has launched a campaign to show itself to the world as a tourist destination for the LGBTIQ+ community, a campaign featuring a variety of activities and establishments and headlined by influential Mexican transsexual artist Morganna Love.
The initiative kicked off in June and will last until September with the plan being to present the Ecuadorian capital as an open and friendly city for this community, the members of which are doing more and more international traveling.
A member of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), Quito is trying, despite the coronavirus pandemic, to reactivate its tourism sector with its eye fixed on a community that flocks to openly diverse destinations and wants to get to know new places.
As part of the initiative, Love – an artist and singer considered by Forbes magazine to be one of the 100 top Mexican influencers – visited the city last week and she was not sparing in her praise of Quito for its gastronomical offerings, the impressive architecture of its historical downtown and its respect for nature.
“I have a social commitment to my LBGT community,” Love told EFE, emphasizing that Ecuador recently recognized gay marriage and that “Quito is opening up now,” something that she said needed to be happening throughout Latin America.
“They never should have discriminated against us. The government always had told us: “Everyone come!” remarked Love, who said that in Mexico she had lost three of her friends to trans-femicide.
From the rooftop terrace of a picturesque hotel from which the figure of the Virgen del Panecillo can be seen, the multitalented actress, influencer and singer of opera and pop said that she was surprised when she fell in love with the city.
The reasons are varied: the tile roofs, the downtown buildings and architecture, the sculptures – her father carved religious images in wood – the internationally “little known” Ecuadorian cuisine and the churches that recall her hometown of San Miguel de Allende.
And yet another attraction is the Andean biosphere that surrounds the city, about which Love said: “I’m enchanted by the way in which they’re protecting nature. We – in Latino countries – have much to learn.”
Located in a part of the capital with many universities, the Laboratorio restaurant caters to a clientele that includes many LBGTI members, according to manager Amaya Lozano, who said that the traditional conservative mentality of Quito residents is changing among the newer generations.
“We’re a restaurant that doesn’t discriminate against anyone when we welcome customers or in our hiring. We want people to come to sample what we’re doing, always respecting LGBTI persons, who come wanting to enjoy themselves,” she said.
Behind the initiative is not only City Hall’s interest in seeking out a new tourist niche, but also the activism engaged in by LGBTIQ+ groups lobbying for that to occur.
“The media activism we’re undertaking has allowed us to be visible and to be able to work with public institutions like Quito Turismo, a situation that would have been unimaginable before,” said Pamela Troya, the director of the Egalitarian Action Foundation and one of the first people to undertake same-sex marriage.
The campaign for Quito to be recognized as an LGBTI destination also will include a network of recommended establishments and an online promotion designed to get local, regional and international tourists to come to the city.
“All of us in Latin American countries have to pursue this struggle that has cost us so much,” said Love, who never tires of repeating that “being trans is good, being gay is good … Diversity is good, it enriches us as human beings.”
Thus, she added, “a city like Quito is telling the world that ‘we’re open,’ and the truth is that we all should follow in those footsteps.”