Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez
Pedro, who goes by the name “Marlen,” usually shouts the name Mariela Castro to repulse policemen along Fifth Avenue in Havana.
In this way, he/she somewhat reduces the macho harassment meted out every night against people like him -or her- unwilling to abandon their other morality despite the stumbling blocks they must endure in the environment of Cuba’s hyper-machismo.
He, or she, spent three hours in front of a mirror fixing herself up so she’d be seen as an enticing female.
“It was at the beginning of the 90s when I began to be Marlen,” Pedro told me.
“The police could mistreat you for the fun of it; I’m telling you, just for the fun of it. And if you made a fuss they’d accuse you of assault,” Marlen continued. “It still happens, though it’s lessoned since divine Mariela (Castro) began protecting us.”
“Listen, it turns out that the daughter of Raul has devoted herself to us. Everything has improved for us now; we even have a beach [called Mi Cayito] in Guanabo,” Pedro added.
Personally, I’m critical of the Cuban gay movement, which after recognizing the specific influence of its defender (the daughter of the current president of the republic, Raul Castro) permitted itself to work with her.
At the most recent gay pride parade in London, the “champion of Cuban homosexuals” in an authoritarian outburst, spoke out for those she protects proclaiming, “For the time being, there won’t be parades like this in Cuba, since our socialism seeks to be original, as do are our concepts regarding self-determination…”
What she said only arouses horror in me, since Havana is full of gays anxious to shake their hips on downtown 23rd Street in an anticipated “Havana Gay Parade.”
I have to wonder, what would have happened with the US civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s if it had been led by a white person? Would it have been possible for a non-Black to deliver the extraordinary “I Have a Dream” speech?
This is exactly what’s happening to the Cuban gay movement. It has ceded its potential for determination to a woman who is as heterosexual as she is powerful; someone who -beforehand- selects the changes with which she will reward the people she protects.
Until socialism addresses this great unresolved issue of “self-determination” -be it personal or of a group- it will be impossible for it to create the new culture that it has always sought.
Despite the crumbs of tolerance obtained through Mariela Castro Espin (who is also the director of the National Center for Sexual Education – CENESEX), today’s gay Cubans are going to have to wait a long time to see access to substantial rights in society.
I think that Cuban homosexuals will have to make their own decisions sooner or later, represented by someone of their community. In my opinion, this would be the only person qualified to speak for them.