[Marxism] quiet and behaved?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jun 17 09:05:45 MDT 2004

John O'Brian:
Second, I am a Gay activist and Cuba is not a welcoming place for such 
folks (unless you be quiet and behaved).


The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
March 19, 1995, Sunday, ALL EDITIONS

Cuban gays find new freedom to be themselves;
Official policy softens, ends era of repression



Because he was gay, Reynaldo Garcia once was ostracized as a member of 
"La Escoria," the official Cuban government term for homosexuals, 
convicts and the mentally ill. It means "the scum."

Now Garcia can do something he never dreamed would be possible - walk 
hand in hand down the streets of Havana with his lover of six years 
without fear of reprisal.

"I never thought I would see this day. It's a beautiful feeling," Garcia 
said. "I feel like people are starting to see us as human beings, like 
anyone else."

Cuba is backing away from years of discrimination against homosexuals. 
Once packed off to work on rural farms alongside dissidents and 
religious Cubans, or nudged into exile, gays have entered a period of 

The Communist government's new policy of inclusiveness is captured in 
the popular Cuban movie "Strawberries and Chocolate," which is up for 
best foreign film at the Academy Awards this month.

A whimsical but critical portrayal of past attitudes, it tells the story 
of Diego, an intelligent and cultured Cuban with a crush on a homophobic 
Communist student who embodies the government's anti-gay stance.

In the platonic friendship that follows, the student learns to respect 
his friend's uniqueness and questions the revolutionary dogma of 
exclusion that eventually drives Diego into exile.

"Repression of homosexuals is a historical legacy from the Spaniards," 
said Gillian Gunn, director of the Cuba Project at Georgetown 
University. "The revolution did an overlay, squelching anyone who did 
not conform to the revolutionary ideal of the new man."

Communist officials long viewed homosexuality as the antithesis of the 
swaggering macho virility of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and other 
machista-Leninistas regarded as personifications of Latin socialism.

Tomas Gutierrez Alea, a director of "Strawberries and Chocolate," is a 
veteran of the "gray years" of the late 1960s, when intolerance was 
peaking. But he was not as intimately affected as his co-director, Juari 
Carlos Tabio, who was sent to a labor camp.

"The repression against homosexuals in Cuba, like that against blacks in 
the United States, has changed," said Gutierrez Alea, 66.

Indeed, Havana this month held its First International Transvestite 
Festival, a celebration of Cuban-style camp in which prancing female 
impersonators aped Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Diana Ross to a 
dazzled audience sprinkled with fellow cross-dressers.


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