I’ll Probably Die Beforehand

Erasmo Calzadilla

Havana East Beach.  Photo: Caridad
Havana East Beach. Photo: Caridad

I’ll probably die before going to bed with another man.  I have friends who relate the marvels of this and feel sorry for how much I’m missing, but day after day I dare not take that step.

When I was younger I was braver.  When I was about four, my family caught me naked day in a closet with another little friend.  I had to wait for adolescence to understand this by reading a psychology book; it explained how such initiations into sexual life occur frequently and are normal.  But at that time, my relatives took it as a tremendous shock and began the arduous task of persuasion to prevent me from “swinging the other way.”

Their training was so effective that later, when I grew up and mentally opened up to that possibility, I could not overcome the deepest and most paralyzing fear when I felt like any guy was trying to come on to me.

I suppose to convince me of the abhorrence of being gay, one of the adults in my family proudly recalled his feats in hunting gays at military school.

They had an active club of espionage fans there that was able to clean the area of all traces, so he thought.  The climax of the story came when the director of the institution fell into their trap; he was the most coveted “fudge packer” of the many others at that military institution.

But it wasn’t necessary for me to hear about such distant stories to realize that such “frailties” could cost dearly.  In my elementary and secondary schools it was common to witness cruel homophobic attacks led by the children themselves against their “limp-wrist” comrades, and all of this in the presence of abetting adult educators.

When I reached adult age, I joined the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), an organization in charge of rallying residents to protect the Revolution at the neighborhood level.

One night I found myself doing block-watch duty in the office of this organization in my town.

While snooping through the drawers and papers, I found a list of names and addresses of lesbians and gays who lived in the vicinity.

Indignant, I took the sheet to the CDR coordinator to ask him why they keep such a list. Convinced and patient, he explained that people with such deviant behavior historically had been opposed to the Revolution.  “That’s why it’s necessary to keep them under control,” he asserted.

Rage began to ooze from my pores as I responded that such a position aimed at controlling enemies in fact did more harm by creating them.  Later he commented to other people that I must have been something of a “fag” to react that way.

Many people lost their jobs and careers or simply lived in anonymity since that species of cold war was unleashed against lesbians and gays, at least until the beginning of this century when it began to weaken.

Praiseworthy actions have been taken since then to protect homosexuals and to promote a healthier sexual mentality.

To continue and consolidate this work, I proposed that a social program be created to compensate the victims of that homophobic terror of the past and to assist them economically and with opportunities.

Perhaps this way the younger generation can “see it happen” without so much trauma.

4 thoughts on “I’ll Probably Die Beforehand

  • Like you Erasmo.i am a tuff opponent never bitter, simply undeterred in any debate..i have a homosexual fam member and know the art of sparring
    i hold my own and never give in..i refuse to be bullied denounced or abused..However, i give better than most and have no problem calling anyone out. AIDS is rizing in Cuba mostly due to HOMOSEXUAL behavior with people who travel to our country for sex….This is not merely a thought it is a fact. I come from a fam of medical prof some still in Cuba, and they keep me up to par. Also there are many closet Cubans living in amerikkka who know they are infected yet travel to Cuba and pass the virus while takiong thier medications religiously? Then you have those of our bredren who also live as demons in dark places who also refuse to stand up and be human..thus passing this to one another like cigarette smoke..Call this homophobic or whatever is appropriate,,However answer this,,what compansation do the innocent get?

  • Liberation is not a battle it is what is called freedom and it is always a human endeavor that always exceeds all expectations..The is no need to pat u on the back to and help you claim what is yours..To u i say..One must never compensate anyone because someone else chooses to not accept a lifestyle..To compensate anyone for becoming a victim of hate esp when their victimization is something that they cannot change is ludicrous.What would better be admirable is if/when humans become just that..Human..letting others live.Vayas con Dios

  • Thanks for sharing your reminiscences, Erasmo. Your childhood experience gives new meaning to the expression “out of the closet!” Although such repressive homophobia seems to be on the wane here in the States and in Cuba, there is still a long way to go. Your idea of reparations for its former victims is a good beginning. When I was in the U.S. Navy in Newport, Rhode Island, in the early 1960’s, a similar hunting down and purging of gays took place in my barracks. One of my best friends was swept away in this purge and “disappeared.” Did I have the courage to say anything? No. I kept my mouth shut.

  • This is an excellent article, Erasmo. Thank you.

    The battle for the liberation of humanity is proceeding on all fronts!

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