Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ Community in Guatemala
An Interview to Explore the Local Inclusion Landscape

The month of June is known as Pride Month worldwide, a time to commemorate the achievements and fights of the LGBTQ+ community.

At Cacao Source, we decided to join this celebration of journeys, achievements, and resistances by sharing a part of the reality experienced by people in the LGBTIQ+ community in Guatemala, the country that is home to our project.

As a social enterprise, we believe in the paths of empathy that open through dialogue, the importance of sharing the voices of those who experience, question, and promote the fabrics of social justice in the contexts where our project develops, and the powerful changes we can make as a human collective if we recognize each other for who we are: siblings of the same species—equal and immensely diverse.

Below, you can read the interview that Mariana Piñeros, Cacao Source’s Communicator, conducted with Débora Cabrera, our Operations Manager. Débora is of mixed heritage, with Kaq'chikel Quiche ancestry, and they are a human rights, sexual rights, and land rights activist in Guatemala.

We would like to thank our team for sustaining this dialogue and for providing valuable and localized information, thought-provoking questions and reflections, and pathways to support the practical and real inclusion of the LGBTIQ+ community in Guatemala, both nationally and internationally.

We hope to continue honoring the paths of collaboration and Pride throughout the year.

May Cacao show us the way to always listen with an open heart!


Inclusion Landscape for the LGBTIQ+ Community in Guatemala

Mariana: Deby, thank you for being here, talking about this important topic: The inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in Guatemala. For all of us at Cacao Source, it's great to have your voice that promotes and guarantees Social Justice, Inclusion, and Respect for Diversity at all levels.

Deby: That's right, this dialogue is super necessary, as you said. Especially in a Guatemalan context. For me, it has always been important to involve the social aspect in my work because I feel that they shouldn't be seen as separate things. I consider myself an activist: I grew up seeing many realities that, even though they didn't directly affect me, I could feel them and empathize with them.

And, well, I'm a social worker, so I always feel motivated to talk, to have a dialogue about all the realities that we, as human beings, go through. Because we don't always go through the same realities, right? And at Cacao Source, we work in a context where there are foreigners who consume our Cacao, but we also work in a Kaq'chikel community, and with a diverse team from different territories. So having these dialogues and sharing them with others is very important to me.

M: : Absolutely! To start off, could you tell us a bit about the general situation in Guatemala in terms of inclusion for the LGBTQ+ population?

D: Of course. Here in Guatemala, we live in a rather conservative and traditional context. And I believe it is precisely because of this that, although the LGBTQ+ population has always existed, society has forced them into silence.

Currently, there is more access to information, and children have greater exposure to this information. However, there is no support system that can guarantee their safety or enable them to feel truly free. So, the situation is quite complex.

We live in a highly religious and conservative environment, which limits access to basic public services such as healthcare and education. Even something as fundamental as healthcare is not inclusive or accommodating of diversity. In fact, it erases it. Therefore, it's a very complex situation. Experiencing and witnessing this reality motivates us to question how we can create spaces of opportunity and growth: safe spaces at the individual and collective levels, within communities, on the land, and in the streets, fostering a different and sustainable development for diverse individuals.

M: Agreed. Thank you for providing us with this overview and reminding us of the importance of creating spaces of real inclusion: spaces of support, acceptance, respect, and safety.

Now, could you explain to us how this complex situation reflects in the workplace environments in Guatemala?

D: Yes. I think we can start with the context of recruitment. When you apply for a job, the first thing they ask for is your full name, right? And often, individuals from the LGBTQ+ community do not use the name that appears on their official identification documents. It's as simple as that. So, during the process, their names are often questioned. They are asked if it's their "real" name. And from there, situations of violence begin to arise. Then, on application forms, there are gender boxes with only two possible options: female or male. Another barrier appears there. Just the recruitment process itself becomes a barrier to the workplace inclusion of diversity.

Moreover, there are no laws that support inclusion in general. Can you imagine how it is then in the professional environment? There is a strong violence experienced externally. And it's inevitable that someone who experiences homophobia outside won't feel it within their home or workplace, right? So, within workspaces, we repeatedly witness situations where homophobia is so strong that it becomes violent. This is experienced with colleagues, but I've also heard many cases where people are fired when their identity is revealed. Or situations where they are not given other positions. I believe all of this ultimately generates violence because it limits the opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Therefore, I think education is very important. Education is our individual responsibility. Many times we say, "Well, if diversity doesn't identify or represent me, it's not my concern," but it's not about that. We are part of humanity, and respect and access should not be something we have to fight for; it's as simple as human coexistence. And I'm talking about respect for both sameness and difference, right? Because we are humans who are so different that I believe we need differentiated treatment.

In the end, it's not that individuals from the LGBTQ+ community don't have jobs. That's not the case. It's that they have ended up in places and jobs where they cannot feel free to be themselves or express their identity because they know they can be discriminated against or even fired.

Something as basic as respect for one's identity should be a right. All individuals should have access to this: not having their pronouns assumed, not having their names questioned, not being forced to disclose their gender in a job interview.

M: Completely agree. And your response suggests much-needed areas for improvement starting from the recruitment process.

I would like to ask if you believe there are other ways, in addition to these, in which we could take actions that ensure full respect and inclusion of sexual and gender diversities in our workplace environments.

D: Yes, I believe the most important thing is for organizations to take a stance. That is crucial. When entities assume a position, they are saying: here the doors are open, and here we have a responsibility. Taking a stance requires responsibility: the commitment to continuous learning, openness to ongoing feedback, the creation of real inclusive spaces, dialogue, and visibility. With this stance, entities declare what they believe in and also show that they are willing to provide support, create protocols to address workplace violence, reconsider their policies, and embrace the discomfort of addressing these issues.

Entities hold great power because they can impact not only one person but many: all the individuals who are directly or indirectly involved with them. It is of utmost importance that they inform themselves and seek guidance. Just like with any other subject. If a company needs to improve its financial situation, it seeks financial advice. And it is crucial to approach inclusion with the same level of seriousness.

This is a general invitation, not only regarding the diversity of the LGBTQ+ population but in every sense. Because there are many diversities. So, I believe it is essential for entities to start educating themselves and consciously create spaces of inclusion. Because, in the end, if you think about it, it's about adapting to humanity. And if you are working in a company, a social organization, or an NGO, this should not be a negotiable matter.

M: Yes, I find what you bring up very important, and I believe it is a wake-up call for organizations. Furthermore, I think it's beautiful that the first offering is dialogue.

Now, do you think we as consumers can also contribute to reducing the wage gap and protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, and all diversities, in Guatemala?

D: Yes, I believe that as consumers, we can ask ourselves what we want to consume and where we want to sow the seed that is money, right? We can start by questioning what we are already consuming and where our money is going.

Transparency, in my opinion, is crucial. Entities that have transparency policies allow you to see their stance in their reports, if they amplify the voices of those who truly experience these realities, how they honor those realities, how they distribute their financial and human resources, and how and where they invest. As human beings, we need to investigate and learn because with every purchase we make, we are putting forth energy. Therefore, it is important to delve deeper and inquire in order to clearly see where we are putting our resources.

M: Yes, absolutely. I believe it's important for all of us as consumers to become aware of where we're planting our seeds. Because this is a question about what we want to see blooming in the future.

Would you like to share any final reflections?

D: Yes. I would like to take this opportunity to call upon the international community because having cooperation and funds greatly contribute to the protection of human rights for LGBTQ+ individuals. And Guatemala is in great need of this cooperation, as we live amidst exile, forced migration, and a corrupt patriarchal system. We need help in amplifying the voices of diversity, in denouncing the realities they face, and the inhumane inequalities we experience. It is necessary to be able to share them, honor them, and transform them.

I believe it's important to extend this invitation for involvement, support, and contribution.

M: Could you mention some organizations that the international community could support?

D: Yes, thanks to the work of organizations and collectives, many LGBTQ+ individuals in Guatemala have... survived. Because there is no access to healthcare, no access to education, no access to legal resources, right? So, I think thanks to the funding, the collectives, and the organizations that work locally here in Guatemala.

Here are some of the organizations that you can support:

Otrans (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reinasdelanoche1/?locale=es_LA)

LAMBDA (Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asoclambda/?hl=es)

CADI (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CADI.GT/)

M: So, we conclude by reminding ourselves that the work of these organizations is not limited to Pride Month; it is ongoing work. It's important that we support them today as much as throughout the year and every year, given their consistent efforts.

We hope this is an opportunity to celebrate and support those who sustain this social fabric.

D: Definitely. We should greatly honor those who have made these realities visible, those who have provided the fire, the earth, the water, and all the resources to sustain and weave these networks.

M: And lastly, once again, thank you so much, Deby, for being a weaver of bridges and for posing these questions. Personally, I appreciate it greatly, and I know Cacao Source appreciates it as well.

As an organization, we hope to continue creating these spaces for dialogue: building this social fabric among everyone.

This interview was conducted as part of the celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June 2023 at Cacao Source.

At Cacao Source, we believe in the importance of recognizing and giving voice to the struggles and movements taking place in Guatemala. As an organization, we always strive to ensure equal access to job opportunities and a safe environment that promotes dialogue and inclusive pathways for all diversities.

We express gratitude to our multicultural and diverse team, as well as the collaborative alliances formed within. We celebrate the perspectives they bring from their own contexts, origins, and unique quests to the world of Ceremonial Cacao.

We also extend our thanks to all those who are part of Cacao Source. It is because of you that the fundamental message of Cacao, unconditional love for all beings, travels across the world.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive the content we are creating in your inbox: learn more about Ceremonial Cacao, its history, contexts, properties, and ecology; and get to know about our work with circular and regenerative economies.

El Mes del Orgullo LGTBIQ+ en Guatemala
Una entrevista para explorar el panorama de inclusión local