Mauricio Ruiz

First member of Chile’s armed forces comes out to fight homophobia

First member of Chile’s armed forces comes out to fight homophobia

By Andrew Potts

24-year-old Mauricio Ruiz has become the first member of Chile’s armed forces to come out publicly as gay, revealing his identity Wednesday at a press conference organized by Chilean LGBTI rights group Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH).

Mauricio Ruiz

Mauricio Ruiz

Ruiz, a member of the Chilean Navy told the press conference that, as a gay man in the armed forces, he had ‘no reason to hide.’

‘We can do anything, be marines or in any branch [of the armed forces,]’ Ruiz told reporters at the MOVILH headquarters in Santiago, ‘We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else.’

‘In life there's nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic, to look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are.’

Ruiz said he was doing so with the full support of his superiors and that coming out had improved his performance on the job.

‘Personally, I hope that this is a contribution to non-discrimination in my society,’ Ruiz said.

‘After I accepted and have been able to tell others that I'm gay, I went better in my daily work, I've done better, I've been calmer and I even slept better. I am more authentic to me and others.'

The press conference was attended by a member of Chile’s Defense Committee of the Chamber of Deputies to show its support and representatives from several European embassies also attended.

MOVILH praised Ruiz’ decision to come out and the Chilean Navy’s engagement with the group over that process in a statement.

‘Today is a historic day, where a brave young man who applaud standing, has earned a place in the heart of every person who values and fight for equality,’ the statement read.

‘Today we are also witnessing the Navy … giving a signal against homophobia … by enabling one of their own make public their sexual orientation. We are excited about this unprecedented progress and grateful for the confidence placed in MOVILH.’

This article is reposted from Gay Star News.