Sebastian and Long Hair in Cuba (I)

Regina Cano 

Pioneros cubanos. Foto: Gregory Israelstam

Sebastian is a 14-year-old junior high school student who has had long hair since he was five.  Since his first contact with schools, except in his first of several elementary schools, he has had the same problem because of that decision.

Since the fifth grade (when he was 10) it has clearly been his own choice: “I’m Sebastian and I want to have long hair.”

He has been looked at as “weird” and a violator of the Young Pioneers’ Regulation, in addition being the object of jeers and discrimination by his teachers and classmates for years.  “In elementary school the reaction was violent, with contemptuous jokes in which he was called “nancy,” “queen” and the inevitable “maricon” (fag).

Of course he has had to wage this war along with his parents, who have always defended his desire to wear his hair however he wanted.

The principle of a junior high school in Alamar told his parents “he can’t come into this school with that long hair,” and she didn’t permit him to register.

If they hadn’t gone all the way to the National Assembly in search of protection, he wouldn’t have been able to continue in junior high school.

“Education, in the constitution, is for everyone, without exception,” said his mother, who always considered that the values of a person should not be measured by their aesthetic preferences or their physical appearance.  “People can look different and still be honest, respectful and worthy of respect, as well as intelligent, disciplined and good students.”

They educated the boy on the basis of respect for our diversity as human beings. They were also careful that his feeling different didn’t influence him unfavorably, making him believe he was a superior person in relation to others.

“He always saw his father with long hair, since my husband admired John Lennon, Che Guevara and Rick Wakeman,” Sebastian’s mother explained.

She is a graduate in Marxist Leninist Philosophy, a communist; while Sebastian’s father is a designer and an artist (a painter).  They undertook a permaculture* project together, which has required them to live in three different places in the country, always bringing Sebastian along.

At the moment both of them are non-government workers.

The family atmosphere is one based on respect and participation of all in the matters based on one’s level of responsibility.   They are sensitive to the search for knowledge through poetry, music and literature in general.

* Permaculture: “An approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on relationships found in natural ecologies” (Wikipedia) 

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

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