Irina Pino

submarino amarilloHAVANA TIMES — Back when I was studying at the tourism school in Havana, a classmate and I used to go out with two young men from Cuba’s east. We went to parties, strolled together through Old Havana and practically became inseparable. As for sex, however, we never did it: we kissed and petted one another, but that was as far as we went with them.

Once, however, I did try to turn Pablo on. He was the kinder and more spiritual of the two. I liked him a lot because he was smart, sophisticated and read a lot. Most importantly, we shared an interest in classical music and we would always try and listen to CMBF, the radio station that aired that kind of music.

That afternoon, I tried to unbutton his pants, and he grabbed my hand firmly. I noticed he was confused, nervous, perhaps even scared. He immediately changed our plans, telling me he wanted to invite me to a restaurant where the food was excellent.

The second time I suggested we made love, he told me he was a virgin and that we should spend some months together getting to know each other better. He had strong feelings for me and felt I could be his soul-mate.

I must admit his suggestion moved me and I shared his comments with my classmate. She laughed in my face and, in a rather vulgar way, told me that Pablo probably had a small dick and didn’t want me to see it.

Time passed and I had to leave the school (in one of my first posts for Havana Times, I wrote about the incident that forced me to drop out). The important thing to know is that we never did have sex (Laura also never managed to do it with the other fellow).

Recently, while having a good time at Havana’s Yellow Submarine, a locale I frequent on weekends, I ran into my former classmates by surprise. I should mention they were the ones who recognized me and invited me to sit at their table.

Pablo and Ernesto, now in their fifties and with greying hair, confessed to me they’d been a couple since the time they were young, since the time we used to go out as a group. Today, they were declared homosexuals who shared their love with me without reservations.

I was stupefied by the news, but I danced and had a really good time with the two of them nonetheless.

Back home, I started putting two and two together: they would always look at each other in a very special way, would embrace lovingly whenever they had too much to drink, would seek each other’s advice for everything and seldom contradicted one another in front of us, two 21-year-old girls.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

2 thoughts on “Never Too Late to Come Out

  • Thank you for sharing such an interesting story about your experience in South Florida. Thankfully the US and many other nations, including Cuba, have made great strides against homophobia.

    Hopefully we will continue to move forward and eliminate this an other prejudices.

    Man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man may know no bounds, but I have faith that the better angels of our nature will eventually overcome.

    ….must have been a hell of a comic book for that time!

  • Thanks for sharing this story, which evokes an incident in my own life. In 1959 or 1960, when I was an adolescent living in South Florida, one day I had to take a Greyhound bus back to my small town south of Miami. My seat-mate was an unusual young woman. Perhaps because I have always been open and curious, after a short while she trusted me enough to reveal her sexual preference for her own sex; moreover, she even showed to me a rather salacious lesbian comic book! Yum-yum! I was fascinated, and devoured it with glee (yet a full decade before R. Crumb’s similar salacious comics!) Anyway, she got off in some godforesaken town like Princeton, Naranja, or Homestead (she was on her way to see a girlfriend) and I never saw her again. Still, I remember her–and our brief encounter–after all these years. At times, I wonder–and fantasize–if I had unknowingly met the future author of “Rubyfruit Jungle,” Rita Mae Brown ( a novel of growing up lesbian in So. Florida during the 1950’s/early 1960’s). Gays were so persecuted in The South at that time that after the local Florida version of the H.U.A.C. purged all the communists and progressives from teaching positions at the University of Florida, Florida State, and local high schools, then they went after the gays. Ditto a few years later, when I was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. The local branch of Naval Intelligence had nothing better to do than to track down any and all gays they could get their hands on, and purge them from the Navy. Overnight, a half-dozen fellow sailors were purged, and disappeared from my barrack. Some given bad conduct discharges, others even sent to the brig (a naval prison) for the “crime” of being homosexual!

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