miércoles, 19 de septiembre de 2012
LGBT Communities in Cuba, XXI Century
Como ya anuncié en el post anterior incluyo a continuación el texto leido por la profesora y poeta Mabel Cuesta en el evento “LGTB lives in Contemporary Cuba” celebrado el pasado sábado. El texto parte de una pregunta que por elemental nunca está de más formular: ¿Cómo es posible que sea la descendencia directa de las instituciones y dirigentes que han concebido y dirigido la homofobia de Estado en Cuba los que hoy asuman la representación y la voz de la comunidad LGTB?
LGBT Communities in
In my article, “Other Islanders on
Lesbos: A Retrospective Look at the History of
Lesbians in Cuba” that appeared in “Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing
from the Antilles” (Duke, 2008), I insisted on re-creating the
intimate life of a female couple living in a province at the beginning of the
Being a believer, as I am, that whatever is private becomes public, and that such has a definite impact on society, I argued that something has changed in that Cuba where I was a lesbian as a young adult. A positive change, I thought. Even when, at the same time, I was confronting in my article the revolutionary era and the way the gay community was mistreated in the seventies and the eighties, I was able to foresee an emerging possibility: a twenty century
Cuba where the only participants in marginalizing
minorities were those in power.
This, of course, was bad news, given that power generates 100% of visible discourses. But I have always had faith in that which slips secretly through the cracks. In the Cuban case, this becomes one more form of response to a political discourse that has always leaned toward the masculinization of the nation.
Such masculinization has been reinforced by the images of the leaders or the fact that children, every morning for the first ten years of their schooling, chant their aspiration to be like another great leader praised for his masculine attributes, his power of seduction, his daring and his beauty: the overrated Ché Guevara.
I said then: you have to understand that the hour of over-saturation of these manly fetishes has arrived. Along with the crisis of power, a crisis about the meaning of masculinity has slowly developed. For a good proportion of the male heterosexual population, their opinion has shifted to believe that women who love women or men who love men are no longer sick or represent obscene aberrations in any society. However, the statistics on violence, homosexuality, transvestism, transsexuality, workplace discrimination against LGBT subjects, racism, and many other things that a “revolutionary” society finds unpleasant, have been placed firmly out of sight.
All Cuban and foreign researchers who have taken on the task of examining such data have met with prohibitions and consequent frustration of their projects. A recent post by the officialist bloguer “Paquito el de Cuba” who was actually challenging the government to include gay families as a possible alternative for the household composition question, received an official definite "No" for an answer.
But getting back to my article, I wrote some of these ideas in the warm winter of 2003, two years after coming out of the closet and three before leaving
Cuba. During this very same time, I was researching
how the explosion of female Cuban narrators who appeared in the nineties -those
that continue writing today- were
portraying lesbian female subjects in their respective works as another way to
confront the aforementioned masculinized imaginary that dominated the Soviet
I tried to defend the hypothesis that the production of certain selected female authors, those whose work begins to be written and published in this context of losses, uncertainty and confusion, undertakes a labor of re-writing the national imaginary and in turn, lends itself to a growing emergence of a multiplicity of female identities that continue to be invisible in the middle of the monopolized diffusion we have on the island.
For women and their representations in fiction, it deals with an imaginary that strongly searches for alternatives of surviving hunger and apathy. It is a woman’s image that has displaced itself from the figure of the guerillera to the one of lesbians (indeed its radical opposite), and also to the prostitutes, assassins, rafters, alcoholics and drug addicts, among others. Basically, those of which have always been marked negatively by the socialist ethics.
The authors of that post-Soviet
managed to convince us, from the multiplicity and diversity of the origin of
their voices, of other iconographies in the feminine world. To do so, they brought characters that we
could identify with a series of instabilities that were capable of fitting in
with the representation of a Cuba that progressively was incorporating what
Damián Fernández notes as “(…) the parameters of global social life” (xiii).
The way in which those -then newborn narrators- re-wrote the female perspective from the diverse representations of their bodies, drew special interest in my work upon associating it with the imaginary mobilizations over the assumed national heterosexual norm, that which was established by those in power and so largely discussed in the real life scenarios where the gay Cuban community was losing its fear.
All occurred in the most brief and intense period of real decolonization that the country has experienced. What I refer to, is the period from the end of the Cold War to the diplomatic, economical and again misleading encounter with the actual government of
Almost ten years have gone by and besides a national and transnational imaginary that is no longer struggling to prove wrong what the official media insists on revealing as “the true national citizenship,” -that is the one identified with the olive green uniform, the rifles, and the combatant people- nothing truly revolutionary has happened to the LGBT Cuban community in terms of rights, legitimization of their voices or governmental power and representation.
The irony of being visible through a representative of the same heteronormative power that still is trying to keep them quiet is beyond understanding. Because if we take a brief look at the pictures that show the many police raids that still are occuring in
Havana, we could rapidly reach the
conclusion that this same power of representation is constantly delivering a
and pre-rehearsed speech. A speech that has lost contact with the policial
practices. Because if we really want to take the pulse of the LGBT Cuban
Community, we need to listen to voices of the non-organized, non-Mariela Castro
fan member club.
Because if we just focus on the women issues, we discover that the organization which has concerned itself with problems that affect us (Federation of Cuban Women, FMC) has not carried out any project that recognizes or evaluates the rights, visibility or representation of lesbian women in 53 years. No matter what Mariela Castro’s strategies of visibilization are today, no matter what images she spreads in Europe or the States, the government of the Revolution has retained for the LGBT Cuban community the same mechanism for minimizing our concerns that also applies to blacks, heterosexual women and peasants.
This is none other than the democratizing maxim that declares an equality of duties and rights for all subjects living on the island, independently of their conditions of race, class or sexual orientation. Underneath this tábula rasa that equalizes all subjects, all interests, dissonant to the obsolete project of creating the “new man”, have remained buried.
Similarly, the Women’s Federation has always carried out its dialogue portraying an archetype of the Cuban woman as “the socialist and federated” mother, wife and worker. That is the woman to whom songs are dedicated and for whom it has been designed an entire iconography in which she tends to appear with a child in one hand and a rifle or tool in the other. She may be seen in the factories or working abroad as a doctor in some fraternal country, stoic and happy, never once thought of as a woman who could find pleasure in kissing her female partner by the waters of Havana Bay at night.
After so many years of resistance, the data of imprisoned LGBT subjects is still unknown, of suicides who seemed never to have existed, of families separated by shame and resentment, after the experimentation that occurred through the true liberation in the nineties, after the slow but certain belonging to the global social life brought about by the portrayal of hundreds of literary characters, the real LGBT Cuban community is more powerful than the institutions that attempt to regulate and control our more natural and powerful desires.
The real conga we dance cannot be taken into the closet again… so, we ask Mariela Castro to let us dance while she takes care of her elders. Even if they want to dance along, their hips would betray them. Please, keep them at home- the night at el malecón is calling.