Exploring the Facets of LGBTQ+ Legal History in Chile and the U.S. with Sam Apostolopoulos

Fulbright Forward - A Diversity Podcast

Feb 5 2024 • 41 mins

“Every place has a queer history.” Those are some of the impactful words shared by our guest today, Fulbright 2022-2023 U.S. Student Researcher to Chile, Sam Apostolopoulos. Sam’s Fulbright project focuses on understanding the legal history of LGBTQ+ rights in Chile and comparing that with the history of LGBTQ+ legal frameworks in the United States. Through this conversation, Sam shares a great deal of insights about how LGBTQ+ legal rights evolved in Chile, the discourse used to protect and advocate for these rights, the challenges that the queer community faced during eras such as the Pinochet dictatorship, and where things stand now in the country. Sam also touches a bit on this legal history in the U.S. including a court case involving a nonbinary person that occurred 400 years ago! In this way, his message is clear. There is queer history everywhere, and we can all play a part in remembering, reviving, and sustaining it!

Another important aspect of this conversation is the way that Sam’s project also works to interrupt existing narratives of the United States’s relationship to LGBTQ+ rights. The U.S. has often attempted to portray itself as a beacon of queer and trans rights that other countries should follow, despite the U.S.’s own record of lack of protections and attacks on its own LGBTQ+ community, and the fact that nations it tries to advise sometimes have stronger systems. In the case of Sam, he shows that Chile often has legalized protections for queer and trans people before the United States, and to this day offers greater federal legal support for the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, Sam also articulates how the embrace of LGBTQ+ protections in Chile as human rights and the U.S.’s resistance towards that framework have helped exacerbate some of these differences. So the question remains: what is it that the United States can learn from other countries such as Chile? We hope you enjoy this episode!

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