On another hot and sunny day in a Colombian city called Barranquilla, I remember getting ready to take a taxi to a place called Universidad del Norte.
It was some place that I happened to be taking a few classes at.
Once I was ready, I told the owner of the apartment building to help me negotiate a fair taxi price.
Being pressed on time, I didn’t want to fuck around from one taxi to the next in case the first few try to gringo price me or some shit.
Plus, in literally almost every incident where the apartment owner would negotiate for me, I’d almost always get a good price on the first try.
Out of everyone I’ve known in Latin America, this dude was by far the most fucking aggressive in demanding a better price.
And it didn’t matter how good the offer was initially!
Back then, a typical taxi ride to the university would cost like maybe 3 to 5 bucks at most in Colombian pesos?
More or less.
And so even if the taxi driver gave a fair price at maybe 4 bucks, the guy would get in his fucking face and yell shit out in a typical accent of someone from the Caribbean Coast.
Shit like “NO! PAGAMOS 9,000 PESOS CADA DIA!!! NO SEA MARICA!!! QUE LE PASA?!?! NO JODA!!!”
And, as I said, his accent was as stereotypical for someone from this region as you could get.
in which he’d speak very fast, not pronounce his words properly and all around sound a little more aggressive than normal.
The dude definitely had a vibe in him that was very confrontational if he didn’t like you.
With these taxi drivers, he was confrontational enough to almost always get a good deal for me.
It would be to the point that I’d even feel a little bit bad for the taxi driver or almost embarrassed given how confrontational this motherfucker was.
But he always got me a good deal so I went with it.
At any rate, during one of these confrontations, he said shit like in that Spanish sentence written above.
In which he basically told the dude, from my understanding, “not to be a faggot.”
In fact, that was a typical expression from him that I ultimately picked up and even use to this day.
“No seas marica.”
Of course, whenever you translate something from Spanish to English, different interpretations could be applied depending on the context and all.
It could be argued that he was saying something more like “don’t be a pussy.”
Though, at the same time, marica does technically mean faggot.
However, as I said before, context matters a lot.
As I said, this guy was Colombian.
From my minimal experience in Colombia, it did seem to me that Colombians are more liberal with the word “marica” than other nationalities.
Video titled "colombiano marica" showing marica used liberally
Here’s interesting information from an article here on the subject:
“In an atmosphere of questioning it all, from guilt to shoe taste, from desire to excess, it is only fair to question language as well. Colombians use the word “marica” as a conversation filler, almost in the same frequency as Americans use “like”. The difference is the literal meaning of the word.
It can be translated as an adjective used negatively, into the words “gay” or “fag”, and it can also be used with this intention. It can be the replacement of “dude” to refer to anyone (someone you know, someone you barely know, someone you don’t know, someone you like, someone you do not like) or it can be used as “fool” or “gullible”.
There are rules to use it pragmatically so that they can fit a particular register or situation. A native Colombian would know perfectly when, how, where and who to use it with. It is such part of the “evolution” or “involution” of language, such a result of the innovation of words, that even if it bothers some older generations, most of us are used to it. We’ve normalized it.
For comparison sake, to us Americans who are at least from my generation, it’s understandable how “marica” in this sense could be a word used in a context like this.
Back when I was growing up as a kid and even as a teenager, it wasn’t uncommon to hear people say “that’s gay” to whatever really that they wanted to make fun of.
Where they weren’t saying that there was anything actually gay but used the word “gay” in another (but still negative) sense.
Words in English or Spanish can be used like that obviously.
Of course, the use of the phrase “that’s gay” has pretty much been scrubbed from the way of speaking for most Americans in my opinion.
In the same way that the use of the word “retarded” has been scrubbed from the vocabulary of quite a few Americans.
So has the word “faggot.”
Yes, you have people who still use all three of the above.
I do actually!
In both Spanish and English.
But quite a few people don’t anymore.
And so that’s a minor but interesting thing to ask, no?
Is Latin America still with that mindset that it’s OK to say things like “faggot.”
Well, as we see in Colombia, one could argue that there’s a more liberal use of the word faggot down there.
But Colombia is not all of Latin America.
Let’s see where the reverse is true.
House Party in Roma
Maybe 9 or 10 months ago, I was at a house party on a rooftop in Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City.
There was some drinking game we were playing with cards where you’d take a shot of Kraken Rum if you were getting your ass kicked.
I don’t remember very well the rules of the game or what it was because…
Well, I had too much Kraken that night so my memory is bad.
I suck at card games.
Anyway, while we are playing the game, I do remember the group at large having conversations about whatever casually as time passed.
And there was some part of the conversation where I called some group of people “mariquitas.”
Though I don’t remember the conversation perfectly, I do know I was referring to some group of gringos.
Nobody specific but just a type of gringo you see in Latin America.
I just remember somebody asked me about a type of gringo they (a Mexican) has noticed in Mexico City.
I gave my opinion on them and called them “mariquitas.”
Now, from what I remember, I don’t think anyone else gave a shit over my use of the word “mariquitas” nor was there a change in the atmosphere of the room.
Still, some upper class Mexican dude (whose name I also forgot) said to me casually in Spanish how “we accept all types of sexuality here.”
He wasn’t upset by my use of the word “mariquita” and only said that.
Nor did I argue with the guy because I wasn’t insulting whatever their “sexuality” was.
The group in gringos in question wasn’t any specific group either that had anything to do with gay people.
Similar to how Americans used to say “that’s gay,” I was using “mariquita” in the same way you’d say “retard.”
Wait, I can’t say that either…shit.
But you get the idea
.a bit similar to the Doug Stanhope bit here in his explanation for the use of the word “faggot.”
That, in the end of the day, it’s use has nothing to do with sexuality but more with because it’s a strong word that stings harder than “asshole” if you want to punch at someone.
Still, that’s all around an interesting contrast, isn’t it?
One house party in Mexico City to a deranged apartment owner in Colombia.
But let’s wrap this up.
So Can I Say Faggot in Latin America?
Of course, the acceptance of you using this word in Spanish by the locals will obviously depend on where you are specifically in Latin America, the context in how you use it and with whom you are speaking.
Obviously, in any part of the world, if you call someone a faggot to their face, be prepared for a fight.
In any part of Latin America, if you were speaking to a gay person and casually used the word “mariquita” in reference to someone else, you may or may not get push back.
I do think some gay people are liberal with their use of this word also but, for obvious reasons, some take it up the ass if you use it at all.
Finally, I feel it also depends on where specifically you are in Latin America.
Basically, in more developed, you’ll have more people on average who are not comfortable with the word versus in areas that are lesser developed.
Like how Barranquilla, while still being a relatively decent sized city, is lesser developed on average compared to Mexico City.
Or how, from what I can only imagine, the folks in Buenos Aires of Argentina probably would push back against the word also a little bit more strongly than those in Potosi, Bolivia.
But, similar to the US, I can only imagine there’ll be continued pushback against this word in the long run.
Similar to how saying “retarded” or “that’s gay” isn’t as commonly accepted in the US versus how it was when I was a teenager.
Just the other day, I remember talking with my sister about this!
She doesn’t protest my way of speaking either but she did laughingly say how, if I was to ever return to the US, that I’d have to watch my language a little bit more because “this isn’t 2005 anymore, Matt.”
And, on that note more broadly, I guess you can say that this is all a good example of Mañana Time but on a societal scale.
In which certain cultural changes in the US take their time coming down here but some areas (more developed areas) change first before others.
In the same way how, in the US, you might get away with saying “retarded” or “that’s gay” in a very rural community versus Iowa City.
Same thing down here.
At any rate, that’s all I got to say on this topic.
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