David Murray

Kim Bullimore k_bullimore at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 17 23:03:35 MST 2002

Dave wrote:
On the issue of "Strawberry and Chocolate". Great film though it is, it is
made as propaganda film with the intention of whitewashing the Castro regime
in the eyes of the homosexual community worldwide. (although yes, it
certainly can be construed as a film to break down stereotypes in Stalinist

Kim writes:
Dave, please explain how Strawberry and Chocolate "whitewashed" the Castro

The main thrust of the film is to explore the idea of whether or not it is
possible for homosexuals also to be good revolutionaries.    The film from
memory (I seen it two or three  times but the last time was a year or two
ago), actually looks at the intolerance against homosexuals that has been
part of the machista culture which has prevalent not only in Cuba but in
much of Latin America by exploring the developing friendship between a
dedicated revolutionary and a gay man who would support the revolution and
be a revolutionary if his sexuality could be accepted.  From memory, the
film ends with the gay character having to leave Cuba because of the
intolerance shown to him, with the "moral lesson" being that Cuba had lost a
potential defender of the revolution because Cuban society was not able to
accept his sexuality or to understand that it was possible for gays and
lesbians to also be "good revolutionaries".

If anything this is quite a hard comment on the historical intolerance shown
by Cuban society, both before and after the revolution in relation to
homosexuality.  In the film this intolerance is played out in the way the
young revolutionaries friends (who also happen to be committed
revolutionaries) react when they find out about his "illicit" friendship.

The film is not historical, and was originally made as a film for Cubans and
not necessarily for a world wide audiences.  The fact that it was able to
find such resonance world wide and win awards is secondary to the fact  it
was originally made by Cubans film makers with the support of the Cuban
government as a commentary on  revolutionary Cuba's attitudes to

As I outlined in my previous post, many changes had already happen in Cuba
which were aimed at not only ensuring that institutionalised homophobia no
longer exist but also to educate and overcome prejudices in Cuban society
against homosexuality.  Strawberry and Chocolate was aimed at trying open a
space in Cuban civil society for the discussion of such issues, to educate
people and to break down prejudices.

As for the quote by Castro - as Walter points out the book was published in
1965 at a time when homosexuality was still seen as psychological disorder
and not a natural sexual orientation.  And while we can say that yes that
such an attitude was a terrible one (and even you admit that the attitude of
your own organisation, the CWI towards homosexual rights was once not so
great), the fact is that since that time things have changed considerable in
Cuba and there has been a conscious effort on behalf of the Cuban leadership
to not only decriminalise homosexuality and to overcome institutionalised
homophobia, but there has also been a conscious effort to educate people to
overcome prejudice against gays and lesbians.  Unfortunately, many
anti-Castroites (including yourself) refuse to acknowledge this, instead
they prefer to cling to old shibboleths and 37 year old quotes rather than
examining what actually is happening in Cuba today.

Kim Bullimore

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