At the end of my first year in college, just when I began to come out to my family and friends, I read about a young man in the United States, Matthew Shepard, who had been brutally murdered for being gay. This shocked me for many reasons -- first, because I identified with a few of Matthew's traits.
I found myself running through the stone streets of Santiago, faltering at every 800-peso deep-fried cheese-jammed empanada stand, hair frizzing from the sweat bursting through previously uncharted scalp pores, and cursing the heels my friend had insisted I buy because "no one wears flip-flops in the winter here; you look like a tourist."
Back in 1975, when I was traveling through South America, I decided to go to Santiago, Chile. I had been told that the country was beautiful, especially the area around the Pacific resort of Vina del Mar. I also knew that there had been a coup two years earlier, and I was curious to see that the country looked like in its aftermath.