For What Are We Cubans Prepared? (Part 2)

Francisco Castro

Days against Homophobia. Photo: Caridad

A fact recently made known by the Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) indicates that eight out of every ten people in Cuba who have HIV are men.  Another announcement revealed that homosexual men constitute the greatest percentage of males infected with this virus.

Such data leads one to think that a good part of the Cuban population is oriented toward homosexuality, whether exclusively or not.

As I am not familiar with the scientific studies that corroborate such data, people at the street level speculate a great deal concerning the fields of work in which most homosexuals are employed.  Culture is mentioned first, followed closely by the ministries of Public Health and Education, and as always (though now with more force) the armed forces and the Ministry of the Interior.

However, everyone also knows that anywhere —without distinguishing one’s cultural level; social, political or military commitment; or age group— there exist people who are, in one way or another, identified with this preference.

Thus, homosexuality is not an abstract issue for most Cubans.

A couple of years ago —as a result of Cuba holding the “Struggle against Homophobia Days”— people began to talk about the legal recognition of people of the same sex who decide to unite their lives in marriage.  This was not thought of as a standard legal marriage, with the whole ceremony that this implies or the social significance comes attached with it, but as a consensual union.  Among the basic rights conferred would be that of inheritance upon the death of one of the partners.

Superficiality and indifference

As part of those annual days of sensitization, dramatizations are shown on television, as are discussions around the issue.  Televised public awareness messages are broadcast and personalities who are homosexual play certain level of lead roles in Cuba’s audiovisual media.

Though this might seem like an avalanche, it’s not, because these issues are addressed with such superficiality and indifference that they’re soon forgotten.  In addition, the characters represented in Cuban fiction (on TV broadcasts) cannot commit the sin of touching each other – much less kiss or portray characters in sex scenes.

According to specialists on the issue, this is something that Cubans are “not prepared to deal with.”

What can we do then to prepare ourselves?  When will we know we are ready?

Were Cubans prepared in 1959 for the revolutionary avalanche that changed their lives forever, even those who didn’t need it?

One could speak of millions of people who benefitted from that change; it was the majority of the population of that time, when the few had lived off the many.  And now, with that situation no longer existing, when the times have now passed in which we considered homosexuality immoral, when we no longer destroy lives and accomplishments due to discrimination… in short, when people have now begun to talk about the issue, why aren’t we prepared?  And if we’re not, what do we have to do to become prepared?

When will we stand up and pay attention to the situation?  When will we stop holding a double standard propped up on silence and indifference?  When will I be able to see —on prime time TV, or not even prime time…any time— two men or two women loving each other as just two more people?  When will we stop being afraid?

Francisco Castro

Francisco Castro:Everything becomes simpler when one crosses the line of thirty. That does not make it easier, but rather the opposite. There I am on the other side of the line, trying to figure out, what little I know about art, politics, economy ... life, how to move without breaking oaths that seemed essential, how not to give up, how to make the years spent into a beacon to the future.

2 thoughts on “For What Are We Cubans Prepared? (Part 2)

  • A usual way to break ‘the ice’/taboos of this sort is in the cinema: where e.g. a ‘top-rated’ movie in which such portrayals occur can be the easy vector by means of which the untouchable subject-matter can finally and acceptably be broached. And then it’s finally ‘out there’… And if this social “meme” gets consistently reinforced — i.e. because of governmental non-obstruction, or even support of such artistic and social efforts — it can IMO become a new fact of social relations in the general society; and quite quickly, at that.

    And how else is socialist society supposed to develop itself, beyond the mere statistics of harvest output increases, and industrial and construction growth, etc..? Grow your indigenous cuban cinema: you can start with the sexual issues. *That* will certainly garner a LOT of immediate and undivided attention, everywhere, for sure!

  • I had the luck to visit Cuba in June/July this year with friends, and I was happy to get in touch with cuban people very fast because of the help and support of one of our friends who is visiting Cuba since 15 years several times a year.

    My personal thinking about this thematic is, that the cuban people do not really seperate homosexuality from heterosexuality from bisexuality. Homosexuality seems not to be a discussion theme (as far as I can say as a tourist) because it is in itself not a theme for the cuban people. They have sex or not. Independent if it is a woman or a man, a boy or a girl. Cubans are smart on deciding who they want and how and they are not persuaded and infected by a kind of sexual apartheid.

    I hope my thoughts do not mind you,

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