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?