the ultra-left on homosexuality?

Andy Daitsman adaitsma at
Tue Feb 7 21:08:50 MST 1995

Please, please, please.  Can we at least have some sensitivity to chronology?

Don Kenner wrote:
>   I don't know if this would be a fruitful search, but you might look into
>those who supported the Cuban revolution early on (anarchists and
>trotskyists, among others) before they were forced into exile or shipped off
>to work camps. I know that many in the Literary circles (some of whom were
>with Fidel in the attack on the Moncada barracks) were homosexual, including
>those who worked on the literary suppliment Lunes before it was suppressed,
>around the time of the Padilla affair.

Lunes de Revolucion was shut down somewhere around 1961-63.  I'd have to
check around a little bit to get the exact date.  One of its editors was
Guillermo Cabrera Infante, who is quite a good writer but who also became a
rabid anti-communist after he went into exile.  I also remember that one of
the charges against Lunes was that homosexuales were involved in it.

The Padilla affair was much later, and the only known link between the two
is that Padilla sometimes wrote for Lunes.  (But so did Desnoes, and just
about everyone else who was conscious and breathing at the time.)  The
international jurists selected Padilla for the Casa de las Americas Prize in
poetry in 1968, but the political pressures of Stalinists in the Cuban PC
prevented him from actually receiving the award.  J.M. Cohen, British poetry
critic, was particularly irate -- because he had participated in the
selection -- but the incident turned into a serious conflict between Cuba
and foreign intellectuals.  The animosity of some Latin American writers,
Vargas Llosa notably, dates from this time.  Despite the censorship, Padilla
stayed in Cuba and continued writing until his detention in 1971 (1972?).
After a period of interrogation (Padilla's description of it in Heroes Are
Grazing in My Garden reads like the interrogation scenes in _Darkness at
Noon._  You wonder how much of it really happened...), Padilla appeared
before a congress of the National Writers and Artists Union and, in show
trial fashion, proceeded to confess to counter-revolutionary tendencies.  He
also accused all his closest friends of similar tendencies.  His passport
was taken away, and he had difficulty publishing during the seventies.  In
the early 80s, he was allowed to go into exile.

>   If some of these folks were active during Batista (or before), they might
>have published something on homosexuality. I don't know where you would start
>with this. I know that Black Rose books in Canada has an excellent book on
>Cuba; they might have some resources. And you can always work your way
>through the mountain of Cuban exile writings.

Though I haven't read it yet (it's on the syllabus for my Cuba culture
course), Reinaldo Arenas's memoir _Before Night Falls_ appears to be an
excellent source on living homosexual in Castro's Cuba.  Whether he has
anything to say about pre-1959, though, is a different story.

>   (The mountain is growing larger every day. I read that Norberto Fuentes
>recently left for Mexico after a hunger strike. Are there any great Cuban
>writers left on the island?).

Don't know about writers, but there are some damn good filmmakers...

>   Good luck.                                     Don Kenner



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