Rainbow Flag in Honduras
February 3, 1997
-by Chela Fielding, RPCV
It was an early evening as I settled into my hammock. My body ached and groaned with happiness to finally relax. I had worked all day in an “aldea” (small village) up and over the mountains with a large group of eager wide-eyed kids. We talked about “finca humana” (people’s farms), using your hands, heart and mind while planting gardens and seeds for trees. We sang a song about the forest and we made up names for each tree we planted.
It was a good day. I felt very satisfied, inspired and touched by the energy and interest of the kids. Now in my small room alone, I leaned over from my hammock to grab a bundle of Xeroxed pages. In them is a story sent by my friend Nora that I had been wanting to read out loud to myself, called “A Letter to Harvey Milk” by Leslea Newman. I began raising my voice as the rain started to fall. I had gotten to the second page and found myself in tears, an “ol fella” was writing to Harvey Milk as an assignment for his writing class. In it he describes their friendship and how Harvey’s death affected not only him, but the whole city of San Francisco.
I am in a small town in La Mohaga, Honduras. I am pouring out tears for the reality of discrimination gays and lesbians face day to day. I continue reading and I’m practically sobbing by the end of the story. Upon finishing I feel sad and alone in my small “aldea” away from my tribe of friends in Northern California. I want to be there fighting for our rights, sharing the simple idea that it’s just love between two people and that we are everywhere.
But how in this environment do I explain this to Dona Delmi or Dona Balzamina, two beautiful womyn who are my neighbors and my closest friends here. I don’t think there is even a chance for them to understand my deepest feelings because of what their culture demands of them. I learn to share warmth with them: making tortillas, collecting wood, grinding corn, sipping coffee in their adobe smoke-filled kitchens. And somehow that is enough, but then when I retreat into my space and begin reading gay and lesbian poems or a story like “The Letter to Harvey Milk,” I feel like I am going to explode.
And so I paint a rainbow on a piece of wood shaped like a flag and nail it to a post in my garden. I write to you. I write to my gay and lesbian friends in California and I keep my antenna up high searching always for others of us. I continue to fall in love with the lines deeply carved in the farmers hands, bending over working the soil day to day, harvesting corn with the womyn, getting lost in tall fields on rolling hills. I am developing a relationship with the people in this community. They may never really know who I am but the flag is bright and all who come to see my garden comment on its beauty, and I smile inside and out because of the beauty of what it represents to me.