By Daniel Benítez
The popular Facebook group “Puerto Vallarta Gays: Everything Gay You Need Or Want To Know” has grown to more than 21,000 members, a huge jump from just over a year ago when it had 7,000 members.
The group, started by Mexican-American entrepreneur Jet de la Isla, was initially set up to offer a platform with useful information aimed at Puerto Vallarta LGBTQ newcomers to adapt to their new home and help them start up a business. For Jet, it was important to do so since he would have appreciated having a resource like this when he arrived in the city five years ago: a social network that would have allowed him to make new connections with local people easily.
Jet is originally from Texas but moved to Puerto Vallarta after living some time in Spain and traveling around the world. He has visited more than 57 countries, he is bilingual and has strong interpersonal relationship skills that have enabled him to prosper in Puerto Vallarta. He currently has two successful businesses: Jet Private Boat Tours and Jet’s Gay Hostel.
“I created the group three years ago to unite the LGBT community in Puerto Vallarta,” Jet explained. “I wanted to unite the community in order to tackle some issues I noticed in Puerto Vallarta. We did not have a central source for information. Google is not the best source of information in Vallarta or Mexico. As information changes so quickly and without notice. I wanted to be able to have a resource where we can ask questions about gay businesses and get up to date and live information from those on the ground. As with all marginalized communities I knew we would have some larger social issues to tackle in the future. I envisioned uniting the community would be the best way to handle these tough social issues when they present themselves in the future.”
And Jet also envisioned a group that would also allow the local LGBTQ business community to be able to connect with LGBT tourism.
“I wanted new and upcoming LGBT entrepreneurs to have a networking resource in order to launch their businesses and create a stronger community from small businesses,” he said.
Along with the groups popularity, Jet has moved from not only an online presence, he’s started organizing local mixers at local businesses so that visitors and residents can meet in person.
“The primary object of the group is to unite the community and positively lift each other up,” he said. “Both LGBT business members and visitors/expats/locals of Puerto Vallarta. I envision the group playing a key role in being a live, up-to-date, information resource for members traveling to and living in Puerto Vallarta. I envision the group playing a key role in helping business members connect to their customer base.”
But like with any social media platform, there have been challenges for Jet and his small team that monitor and serve as the group administrators.
“The main challenge has been moderating the group. Unfortunately we live in a world where people are insensitive to others online and cyber bully each other,” he said. “Most do this without paying much attention to how much their words affect each other. Our biggest task as moderators is to make sure members treat each other with respect and play nicely.”
In addition to the local mixers, Jet said that the group will soon launch a local newsletter.
“The group will launch an upcoming newsletter that will be featured in LGBT businesses around town,” he said. “This newsletter will provide new entertainment content for the community as well as provide beneficial community information. Information for sexual health services provided by SETAC for example and other community programs.”