In Chile, a Navy Officer comes out challenging institutional homophobia

24 year old Navy Officer, Mauricio Ruiz held a press conference with Movilh, a gay rights organization in Chile to come out.

In a video shared by Towelroad, Ruiz says "It doesn't make sense to be gay and to hide. It's not worth it. It's not a life. I think you have to be who you are and do what you like." Oscar Rementeria, the spokesperson for Movilh said "I think today Mauricio has become an icon in the armed forces. Now time will be divided into before he came out and after he came out, it will mark a change in terms of the struggle against the culture homophobia that is so strong in the country's institutions."

Chile has been marked by hate crimes, such as the murder of Daniel Zamudio, and the attendant calls for hate crimes legislation led by his family, friends and the LGBT community. The legislation was finally passed in 2012. This year Chile's Todo Mejora (It Gets Better) organization and other groups have worked to advance messages of acceptance especially in support of LGBT youth to combat the high rate of suicide. Recently GLAAD's Director of Spanish-language media, Monica Trasandes conducted media trainings with the group and supported their efforts.

Hopefully Ruiz' strong confident message and the support he is receiving from his superiors and society will be followed by the changes in policy needed to ensure that all people can live, work and love safely and happily in the country.