SANTIAGO, Chile, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Mauricio Ruiz has come out as the first openly gay member of Chile's armed forces.
Speaking to reporters in the capital city of Santiago, the 24-year-old sailor admitted it has "not been easy" to publicly disclose his sexuality, but reasoned that "In life there's nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic, to look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are."
The armed forces supported Ruiz's decision to come out, a move that shows "it is possible for gays and lesbians to be part of the armed forces and that they aren't going to suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation within these institutions," says Rolando Jimenez, president of Chile's Movement for Integration and Homosexual Liberation.
"We can do anything," Ruiz asserted, "be marines or in any branch (of the military). We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else."