Homophobia and Unreported Tragedies

Maria Matienzo Puerto

Photo: Caridad

Felo says it was a crime of passion, but no one talks about it. People only know that Alexis — the guy with the prettiest wife in the neighborhood — gagged, raped, axed and then ejaculated on another man.

According to Felo, one of the toughest guys in the neighborhood, “Everybody thought it might have been an assault, but the truth is that love was involved, nobody’s going to fool me about that.”

Continuing with Felo and his bluntness, “It’s that when you get into that business [referring to homosexuality], you got to know that one day everything’s going to come out, and when it does, you’ll need to have your head on straight if you don’t want to lose it.”

The murder victim was 51 and single. Felo couldn’t tell me if he was gay or not, but he said the guy lived alone and that no one was aware of him having a “jeva” (chick).

This Alexis fellow was being held by the police because the victim died in the hospital four days after the incident, and before passing he’d been able to tell the authorities who attacked him.

Felo is not a gossip, though I learned all this through him. He only said that he knew I was interested in these kinds of stories.

Nevertheless, I think that behind everything he told me, there was a kind of sympathy. At some point in the conversation, it seemed he was hinting at some things without openly admitting them, presumably so as not to bring his manhood into question in my presence.

He said, “At this stage of life, to get involved in situations like that is to waste one’s life. This is especially true in a country where while average people don’t philosophize about freedom, nor is this issue a priority. Greater freedoms have been won with people’s own hands, hence the increase in people who are gay, tattooed and self-employed.”

What Felo meant was that if Alexis had wanted to be a “queen” (he refrained from using a stronger word so as not to offend me) he should have been open about it, that isn’t a problem with anyone.

But I didn’t take it so lightly. I think things like what happened on that corner in Alamar’s Zone 24 are the worst consequences of homophobia.

Yet that wasn’t all. Through Felo I found out about another similar incident: a 21-year-old guy who drowned his girlfriend because she was speaking out against his infidelity with another man.

As one can see, the greatest harm of homophobia is against the individuals themselves, and the nightmares this causes in each situation can get even worse.

Of course we don’t hear about any of this in Cuba’s press. Rather, the news circulates around by word of mouth, by way of gossip or through people like Felo – who in this instance knew that I wrote and did me the favor of telling me about the tragedy.

Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

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