[Marxism] Stonewall Rebellion commemorated in Cuba: introduction, report and article
ffeldman at verizon.net
Sun Jul 17 09:08:37 MDT 2011
Another registration of the enormous progress the Cuban revolution has made
in this area of human rights.
Introduction by Walter Lippmann
A few weeks ago a tiny grouping in Havana held what was, in essence, an
anti-government gay rights walk down the Prado. I've read estimates of as
high as twenty individuals participating in the event. It received
world-wide publicity because it was built and publicized in opposition to
the officially- organized gay rights events, to which hundreds of Cubans
responded. Here is an English translation of the speech given at the main
official commemoration of the Stonewall Rebelion held in Cuba this year.
Many in the so-called "mainstream media" as well as too many on the
political left continue to believe that Cuba's treatment of LGBT people is
the image presented in the movie BEFORE NIGHT FALLS. As this document,
translated from the website of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education
(CENESEX), which is headed by Mariela Castro, Raul Castro's daughter makes
clear, that image is completely inaccurate.
Those who may not have read the English translation, or listened to or
viewed the Spanish original of Mariela Castro's interview with RUSSIA TODAY
TV, can find that here:
An extended list of links and translations of Cuban materials on LGBT issues
going back over 45 years may be found here:
Walter Lippmann Los Angeles, California
CENESEX social networks commemorate Stonewall
CubaNews translations. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Last Tuesday 28, the usual gatherings of CENESEX's social networks recalled
the riots that took place 42 years ago at the Stonewall Inn bar in New York
as a result of a police raid on LGBT people which became a milestone in the
history of the fight for homosexual rights in the U.S. and marked the date
for "gay pride" celebrations worldwide.
At 3:00 p.m. Alberto Roque, coordinator of the Men for Diversity group,
delivered a keynote speech where he looked back at the events on June 28,
1969 and their impact on the LGBT movement's struggle (read his words
His opening words were followed by the screening of the American film Milk
and a discussion, in the presence of CENESEX director Mariela Castro, on
LGBT issues and the ongoing efforts in Cuba to wipe out all forms of
discrimination, especially against people's sexual orientation and gender
Then the audience enjoyed two chapters of Pubertad, an educational,
youth-oriented animated series on sexuality issues made jointly by the Cuban
Film Institute (ICAIC) and CENESEX, namely Me gustas tú, recently awarded
the Prix Jeunesse International in Sao Paulo, and Tia Chela, a brilliant
approach to sexual diversity. Producer Aramís Acosta and scriptwriter José
Martín Díaz, who took part in the debate together with Mariela Castro, who
was their special advisor and whose book ¿Qué nos pasa en la pubertad?
inspired them to make this material, as popular with Cuban youth as with
critics wherever it's been shown.
The afternoon ended with the launching of Daysi Rubiera's book Aires en la
memoria a collection of individual stories of people from Havana's Regla
municipality, described by Mariela Castro as a living example of the Cuban
population's diversity and a performance by cross-dressers, used by
representatives of CENESEX's social networks to talk about what they do in
Stonewall's historical legacy By Alberto Roque Guerra
June 28, 1969 is celebrated worldwide as a historic day in the struggle for
the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals.
Located at Christopher Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New
York City, the Stonewall Inn stood at the epicenter of heated riots by LGBT
people in protest against police repression. A look at those events from
today's world makes us realize their worth in a long process, as yet
unfinished, of similar actions dating as far back as the late 19th century.
The scene of the crime and its history of resistance
Greenwich Village has always been a bohemian, rebellious enclave. In the
days of Dutch rule when New York was still New Amsterdam the first
dwellers of the Village had violent clashes with the local authorities to
prevent the neighborhood street layout from being changed in order to allow
for carriages, rampant throughout the city at the time.
Around the second half of the 1960s Christopher Street had come to be so
frequented by gay people that many believed the nearby Gay Street owed its
name to such fact, although its real namesake was Sydney Howard Gay, who in
1834 led with great success a protest against plans to create infrastructure
for an elevated railway in town.
The Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. During the Prohibition the place
was a teahouse that increasingly catered to artists, intellectuals and gay
men, until it became the restaurant Bonnie's Stonewall Inn in the 1940s.
Homophobia, the American way
Stonewall Inn had bloomed into a gay bar by 1967, a time of dynamic social
and political changes in the U.S. marked by the civil rights, women's, and
anti-Vietnam war movements in a context where the LGBT community was the
victim of widespread discrimination and cruel police harassment based on
laws against homosexuality and "rectifying" therapies performed on gays and
In his book Stonewall: The riots that sparked the gay revolution (2004),
David Carter points out that in 1961 American gays and lesbians faced a
legal system more anti-homosexual than those of countries like Cuba, Russia
or Eastern Germany, which were usually attacked by the U.S. government for
their "despotic methods." (1)
In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 that established
"sexual perversion" as grounds for being investigated and fired from
government jobs, while McCarthyism advocated for harsher laws against LGBT
people and right-wing Puritans got in a terrible flap as they held that
homosexuals were fond of child abuse.
Thus the specter of stigma spread to cover other ideologically negative
qualities, to the point that homosexuals were said to be communist.
Electroshock, castration, lobotomies and other therapies were used in
psychiatric hospitals across the Union under the protection of 1941
legislation in reference to the crime of "consensual sodomy".
Anti-homosexual police activity and persecution were all the rage as gay
bars and other hangouts were constantly raided. In 1966 around 100 were
arrested every week for homosexual behavior, and the NYPD had orders to bust
anyone in public wearing fewer than three items of clothing "appropriate" to
Resistance and political activism
Even if the Stonewall riots have come to be known as the birth of the Gay
Liberation Movement and the main date to honor gay pride, the gay rights
movement had seen the light of day long before that.
In 1950, Los Angeles area homosexuals created Mattachine Society, a
self-proclaimed nationwide homophile organization. Its founder, Harry Hay,
was a member of the U.S. Communist Party, and their objectives were to unify
homosexuals, educate them, and then move them into political action. Its
members believed they could cure people of their homophobic and prejudiced
views by providing them with an education on sexuality using exact,
scientific terms, which was at odds with both people's own perception and a
number of campaigns designed with the help of arguments and notions put
forward by psychiatrists and psychologists, who were supposed to be experts
on homosexuality. The new leaders believed that the movement had lost its
It's worth mentioning that the first attempts at making homosexuality a
legitimate orientation at international level go as far back as to 1869,
when the term "homosexual" was coined by Austro-Hungarian writer Karl Maria
Kertbeny as a condition that came natural to human beings. He referred to
anti-homosexuality legislation as contrary to the rights of man and said
free consensual sex should never be punished.
In the late 19th century, German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld went even
further and established a group of gay rights activists who asked the
government to erase anti-homosexuality Law 175 from the German criminal
code, but fascism put an end to his career and political activity.
The Gay Liberation Front: Stonewall's spark
Police harassment and persecution at Christopher Street triggered violent
protests right in front of the Stonewall Inn bar, where for three nights
gays and transgender people stood up to NYPD's crackdown on gays and
lesbians, who joined the members of the Mattachine Society, took over the
streets and formed a new political entity they called the Gay Liberation
Named after the National Liberation Front born in times of the Vietnam War,
the GLF defined itself as a revolutionary group. It's interesting to read
the following part of the group's manifesto:
We are a revolutionary homosexual group of men and women formed with the
realization that complete sexual liberation for all people cannot come about
unless existing social institutions are abolished. We reject society's
attempt to impose sexual roles and definitions of our nature (
) We identify
ourselves with all the oppressed: the Vietnamese struggle, the blacks, the
all those oppressed by this rotten, dirty, vile, fucked-up
Unfortunately, although the emergence of AIDS proved the GLF right, its
initial goals were eventually thwarted when gay men started to make economic
progress, lesbians were excluded from radical feminist groups, and division
eroded the foundations of the transgender people's movements. Worn away by
commercial interests, Gay Pride marches lost their political meaning.
All of the above paved the way for the formation of another front in the
1990s: the Queer movement. However, that would be a topic for a separate
It's essential to all members of CENESEX's social networks, individual
activists and people at large to get acquainted with Stonewall's legacy and
the history of the international LGBT rights movement. Let's all work
together and use our own ideas and initiatives, without pressure or
interference and in accordance with our legitimate sovereignty, to have such
rights recognized. (28/06/2011)
(1) Carter D. (2004), Stonewall, the riots that sparked the gay revolution,
St. Martin´s Griffin, New York, p.16
1. Carter, D. (2004), Stonewall, the riots that sparked the gay revolution,
St. Martin's Griffin, New York, p.16.
2. Herzer, Jean Claude, Homosexual Studies and Politics in the 19th Century:
Karl Maria Kertbeny, Journal of Homosexuality 19, nº 1 (1990).
3. James D. Steakley, The Early Homosexual Emancipation Movement in Germany
4. John Lauritsen and David Thorstad, The Early Homosexual Rights Movement,
1864-1935 (Second edition revised).
5. Molly McGarry, Fred Wasswerman, Becoming visible, an illustrated history
of lesbian and gay life in twenty century America, Nueva York: Penguin
Studio, The New York Public Library, 1998
6. Manfred Herzer, Kertbeny and the nameless love, Journal of Homosexuality,
1985, fascicle 1, pp. 1-26.
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