My Day against Homophobia

Nonardo Perea

El desfile contra la homofobia del 14-5-2016. Foto: cubadebate-ci
The parade against homophobia, 14-5-2016. Photo: cubadebate-cu

HAVANA TIMES — On Saturday, May 14, under a scorching sun, a great many people of different sexual orientation rallied against the homophobia that still prevails in our society.

This year, I noticed that, despite having been denied much publicity on television, as is habitual in our socialist country, the number of people who attended the rally was a bit greater than in previous years.

Though I was there in support of the LGTB movement, I didn’t feel comfortable. First, because the point of departure was not the same as in previous years and no information about this was given beforehand.

Some of us had to find out through word of mouth that the rally would start at the back of the Hotel Nacional. Similarly, the regular start time of 10 in the morning was pushed back to around noon. The wait became tedious and, to top things off, once the conga line got going, the old slogans from previous years, “socialism yes, homophobia no,” were again repeated.

I saw no signs demanding the right to same-sex marriage and, in the brief speech offered by Mariela Castro, inside the pavilion, she demanded an end to the US blockade and asked us to become united to take part in the struggle with more political awareness.

This time around, she did not demand the release of the Cuban Five, as they’ve already been released, thank god, but I was surprised when she publicly invoked the figure of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican independence fighter who, in her words, has been in prison for more than 34 people for struggling for his country’s independence.

I wonder what any of this has to do with the struggle against homophobia. Mariela once again mixed things that, for me, as a homosexual, are unrelated. I had never heard anything about this man she mentioned, I don’t even know if he’s gay. The truth is that there are things I don’t understand, I don’t know whether I’ve got a mental problem. I may be the one who doesn’t know anything, but those political issues don’t seem to have anything to do with our struggle.

To be clear, I am not insensitive to the issue. I am against the unjust imprisonment of anyone. What I mean is that there’s something that doesn’t fit the context of the day and we need to focus more on the rights of the community, to deal with issues such as marriage, adoption and others.

Perhaps Mariela [president Raul Castro’s daughter] is being pressured to include such political actions in our campaigns, actions that have nothing to do with our priorities.

With respect to Mariela, I’ve said it on other occasions. She is agreeable and tempered, but, I am beginning to think she’s the kind of person who thinks only her opinions matter. From her speeches, I sometimes notice that she would not approve of someone being against her opinions and ways of seeing things. I see her as a woman who doesn’t understand or implement democracy; someone who can’t accept that, among millions of people, there’s bound to be a broad range of opinions and desires.

Personally, I see the same charade repeat itself year after year, and the LGTB community is making progress at a snail’s pace. I remember a time in Cuba when students who didn’t do their work at school would get a turtle pinned to their shirts, do you?

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.


16 thoughts on “My Day against Homophobia

  • May 28, 2016 at 8:56 am
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    I was enriching your genial post with valuable information about the context.

  • May 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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    If you agreed with my analysis from the very beginning then why do you keep coming back over and over to lecture poor dumb me even more?

  • May 27, 2016 at 5:06 am
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    Lets repeat myself so you understand. May be my English is not good enough.
    “However, these present changes are here to stay because of the failure of the Socialismo del Siglo XXI and the dire situation of Venezuelan and Cuban economy. They have nowhere else to go now. They have to allow some capitalism and some freedom to creep in in order to stay in power.

  • May 25, 2016 at 11:20 am
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    There has never been a social policy change reversed by the Cuban government that’s anywhere nearly as large as the present acceptance of the LGBT community. I think you have vastly underestimated the international backlash that would befall Cuba if they tried to revert to their own ways. Those days are long gone, time marches on.

    As I said above, I guess we’ll just wait and see who’s correct.

  • May 25, 2016 at 10:24 am
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    You do not know me neither know about what kind of access I may have or not. They have reversed changes before. They have allowed free markets and then closed them. They have invited and rejected foreign investment before. It would not be a problem for them as they do not have principles beyond staying in power. However, these present changes are here to stay because of the failure of the Socialismo del Siglo XXI and the dire situation of Venezuelan and Cuban economy. They have nowhere else to go now. They have to allow some capitalism and some freedom to creep in in order to stay in power.

  • May 25, 2016 at 2:46 am
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    “… Only that I know it is not sincere but a way to wash the dictatorship face and to release internal pressure…”

    Your unparalleled access to Castro’s inner circle is indeed impressive. It will be interesting to witness how they will manage to reverse the massive changes that have happened in the last decade and somehow magically erase all those policy changes. I guess we will see.

  • May 24, 2016 at 8:07 pm
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    I welcome the change. Only that I know it is not sincere but a way to wash the dictatorship face and to release internal pressure and please, lets keep this civil. I have not hung monikers to your opinions. I respect everybody. A little bit of good manners goes a long way to create a good discussion environment.

  • May 23, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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    Yes amelrodriguez, like many Latin countries and like many of its Caribbean neighbours Cuba treated gays horribly. Then to its credit Cuba did an almost unimaginable dramatic about-face and changed their policies to a huge extent.

    Your attempt to discredit their reversal from their earlier policy in
    such a short time period is petty and lame. The Castro government has been a complete mess but give credit where credit is due.

  • May 23, 2016 at 6:06 am
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    This tolerant attitude is a new situation only a few years old to show the world the system is ‘respecting human rights’, and to manipulate the LGBT community. Up to the 90’s people could be sacked from university and will not be giving a promotion if they were suspected of being gay, but anyway Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia are much worse , so lets be happy and thanks our government they do not hang gays from cranes. No?

  • May 21, 2016 at 11:21 am
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    Mariela Castro has done more to make Warhol’s life easier than any other single individual in the history of Cuba. The fact that he’s ignorant about that simple fact demonstrates very clearly how uninformed he is. Cluelessness does not deserve validation.

  • May 21, 2016 at 8:02 am
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    You are correct, I have no personal experience with the LGBT community there, I spend my time in Eastern Cuba. As Warhol is part of the community there, let’s validate his feelings about this protest rally that got somewhat hijacked by Mariela Castrol.

  • May 20, 2016 at 11:15 pm
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    Warhol has zero clue about the realities outside of Cuba, and I suspect you have zero clue about the realities of the LGBT community within Havana.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong about your personal experience. I’m happy to discuss/explain the real, present day reality further. I see it every single day.

    Cheers from Havana.

  • May 20, 2016 at 5:07 pm
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    Warhol may or may not know the status gays in the neighboring countries but let’s at least validate the feelings he has regarding the rally in Havana.

  • May 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm
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    Mary, why do you say it’s bad in Havana? What bad experiences have you had happen or seen happen to others?

    And please don’t ignore my entire second paragraph, “… Could things be better? Of course. There’s always room for improvement, same as anywhere in the world…”

    How do you call that defeatist? I absolutely recognized and acknowledged that many issues remain.

  • May 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm
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    That’s a pretty defeatist attitude to the fight to end homophobia. Maybe it’s not as bad in Cuba than in other parts of the Caribbean, but it is bad and it is wrong, therefore he should not doubt continue to raise awareness of this. And he should not have to thank his lucky stars for it being bad but better than for others.

  • May 20, 2016 at 11:58 am
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    Warhol, thank your lucky stars that you’re living in by far the largest LGTB community in the entire Caribbean, with by far the most accepting and tolerant attitudes towards your like minded friends and acquaintances.

    Could things be better? Of course. There’s always room for improvement, same as anywhere in the world.

    That said, you have no clue what real homophobia is. Sadly, you wouldn’t last a week in some of your neighbouring countries.

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