Cuba: To Remember is to Suffer Anew

Nonardo Perea

Coppelia Ice Cream parlor. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — There are things one cannot erase from memory, no matter how much you want to. I recall that, in the now distant 1988, I was barely fifteen, the age of innocence.

At the time, I was beginning to enter Havana’s small gay world, which was most active in what I would call the heart of the city: the neighborhood of Vedado.

As thought it was yesterday, I recall that the Coppelia ice-cream parlor would close at 2 in the morning, and that the quality of the ice-cream was very different from what it is today. I won’t be speaking about the ice-cream, however, but about the atmosphere inside the parlor, where one came across homosexuals, bohemians, rocker-types, intellectuals and whatever strange person came along.

After this ice-cream cathedral closed, many headed off for a tea house, or to the intersection of G and 23, to have a get-together or look for a one night stand. Others would spend the night at the park with the statue of Don Quixote. All different kinds of people would choose the place they liked, without any problems.

We were a group of teenagers who would often sneak out of the house to spend the night together, walking down the downtown area without doing anything wrong.

Sometimes, we had a good time and sometimes a very bad one, because the police would often come along and take anyone in the area down to the station.

Just like that, without any good reason, they would put you away in a cell until they pleased.

I was occasionally the victim of these crackdowns. After detaining them, the police would offend and beat homosexuals as though they were animals. I once saw how they wiped someone’s face with a rag to see if they were wearing makeup.

The poor guy who had a bit of powder on their face would immediately earn a bit of jail time.

I met many gay men who were beginning to explore transvestism. They didn’t have a very good time back then, when we ran from one end of Vedado to the next, trying to avoid being captured by our revolutionary and brutal police.

I have several anecdotes from those remote times that are still fresh in my memory that I will share in another post. Without a doubt, remembering something, though sometimes painful, is reliving it, whether we like it or not.

2 thoughts on “Cuba: To Remember is to Suffer Anew

  • November 20, 2014 at 7:23 am

    By definition, fascist states are not very tolerant of differences and minorities.

    Moving post. Interesting story. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • November 19, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Thank you for sharing your memories of times past, the good & the bad. Your story sounds like a rather darker version of the now classic Cuban film, “Fresa y chocolate”.

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