Gays and Cuba

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Nov 19 17:45:26 MST 2002

>Start writing the warrant then. The INS site confirms the existence of
>this law:
>as does the UK's IND website. I tried really hard to find a copy of the
>Penal Code from a Cuban government website but it's all in Spanish and I
>don't speak the language. Maybe someone from Cuba or someone with Spanish
>skills could find 303a for us (punishes "publicly manifested" homosexual
>behavior, specifically, "publicly bothering others with homosexual amorous
>advances" with 3 months to 1 year in prison; reported on by the ILGA in 1997)?

I don't think you got my point. I was being ironic. I have no idea in fact
whether the law is on the book or not. My point is that if a Communist
government is so dripping with homophobia, why would it tolerate what
amounts to gay pride floats in an official demonstration like May Day? For
me homophobia was expressed each year in the St. Patrick's Day parade when
the Gay Irish groups were not permitted to march under their own banner.

>My apologies on relying on the ILGA and El Nuevo exclusively. I know that
>El Nuevo isn't the most sympathetic news source, and I understand that
>they pick their stories selectively and with an anti-Castro bias.

You should be apologizing not for this, but for a disturbing lack of
interest in what the left has to say about Cuba and gay liberation. In post
after post, a wide range of leftists--including a rather moderate socialist
David McReynolds--say one thing, but you choose to believe another. And
what you base yourself on is a website studded with gusano citations. Here,
let me make a suggestion. Go to:

This allows you to do a search on newsgroups. Specify
"", which is kind of a news service for the left.
Then, within that newsgroup do a key word search on "Cuba Gays". That is
where I found the piece I posted earlier. 333 articles will be returned. I
just picked one off the top. Allowing for the possibility that the earlier
ones might be less complementary to the Cuban government, most read like
this, which was posted in *1994* by Estelle Jellinek, a Berkeley professor
who went there with Global Exchange. That's the kind of information we
orient to, not the Miami slander-sheets.


I went on Global Exchange's third Freedom to Travel Challenge to Cuba
October 1-9 and had a great time. The challenge part consisted of
requesting that our passports be stamped by Cuban customs when we entered
and/or left Cuba, and thus running the risk of having our passports
confiscated when we returned by U.S. Customs, with possible fines up to
$250,000, and prison up to 10 years.

Fifty-two of us met in Cancun, where we flew to Havana on Cubana Airlines:
Ten were Cuban Americans returning to visit relatives, 15 were from the Bay
Area, and the rest were from the East Coast and other parts of the US. Our
oldest member was 88-- he'd been on the first two challenges; the youngest
was 15 months. We were journalists, doctors, laborers, retirees,
photographers, architects, artists, ministers, union organizers, lawyers,
teachers, arborists, recyclers, etc.

The trip's main emphasis--besides the travel challenge--was ecological. We
spent three days in Havana and five days in Pinar del Rio, a model
ecological rural province west of the capital. Everyone we met with spoke
of the "Special Period" since 1990 when Cuba realized its mistake in
relying on the USSR for almost all of its trade and began working to become
more self- sufficient.

In Havana, we met with government officials, intellectuals, and doctors.
Juan Antonio Blanco, a professor of history and philosophy and the author
of Talking About Revolution (1994), heads a think tank, the Felix Varela
Center, which is trying to redefine socialism to allow for foreign
investment without destroying the basic social reforms of the revolution:
free medical care, education, and housing and sufficient food for everyone.
The Center is also working on the grassroots level, encouraging
self-sufficiency in the "municipalities." (Havana, with 2 million of the
island's 11 million people, is divided into "municipalities"--what we'd
call neighborhoods--with each one having its own representative council,
clinics, doctors, schools, communal gardens, museums, etc.) One communal
project is rehabbing houses flooded during the devastating March 1993
storm, instead of relying on the government. Another was a rock concert in
Lennon Park this summer to bring the generations together in the
neighborhood. "Rockers," disaffected because of a lack of jobs and a bleak
future, and older generations gathered in the park to listen to a live
concert, with music from the sixties and a huge video of Woodstock, the
Beatles, Bob Dylan, the JFK years, etc.

Blanco told us that the HIV sanatoriums are slowly releasing people to
regular society, one, because those infected have demonstrated that they
will practice safe sex, and, two, because the rest of the population is
resenting the excellent accommodations and food the HIV carriers and their
families get there. One evening a reporter in our group visited a party of
gays in a private home; they told her that there is much more tolerance
toward gays than in the past, and soon they expect there will be gay bars.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

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