Last week presented a flurry of international news about what probably seemed like a minor incident to a local business owner in San Pedro.
Published last Wed. by Natalia Solorzano on her facebook page, her personal account of 'homophobia' in the restaurant La Buca swept virally across the Costa Rican social media network. Within hours the FaceBook Group, People Against La Buca was created and had hundreds of fans, and to date has over 1,200. Within a day, international news wires had picked up the story bringing Costa Rica's cultural tolerance of gays or lack thereof into global spotlight. Such articles here, Vanguardia, Carapicha (Costa Rica blog),and Generracion.com.
What was a supposed hug and kiss between two males, led the manager to ask a waiter to inform the couple this public display of affection was inappropriate. The couple's entire group decided to leave and then, bothered, asked to speak to the manager. The manager refused to come talk directly to the couple, dismissing them saying he was in a meeting, at 9 at night. The group, frequent visitors to La Buca, and frequent witnesses to the same unreprimanded heterosexual behavior at the location, felt it was an obvious display of discrimination.
Anti La Bucca supporters, also formed a campaign against Caffe Roma, believing they had the same owner. Due to the instantaneous rebellion against La Bucca, Caffe Roma was prompted to respond online with this response.
Initial response from La Buca was rather nonexistent, I think they were incorrectly overconfident in this not being a big deal. But after two days they met with the leader of the Movement for Diversity, trying to establish that this was not an act of discrimination, but a an act of policy of which all patrons are held to.
Leader, Abelardo Araya seemed satisfied with La Buca's response, but these events bring about a few items of note; the new power of social media that has arrived in Costa Rica and the need for businesses here to be active and aware of what is being said about them amongst online communities, the notion of Costa Ricans accepting gays vs. actually accepting them, and how that battle will play out as Costa Rica moves forward with legally accepting gays by granting civil union rights to gays.
The overall online response to the situation speaks to the strength of voice Costa Ricans can give to the battles for the cultural and legal acceptance of gays in Costa Rica.