Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Sexual-Transgender issues in Cuba
An on-going project. Please send links to other materials on this theme which can be added to this page.
Spanish-literate readers who'd like to help bring this material out in English, we can use your help and
we'll pay you in boundless gratitude. Desafortunadamente, nada mas en este momento...

At the bottom of this page you will find extended comments
by Fidel Castro on homosexuality, made in 1965, 1992, and 2006.

Please write with ideas, links, corrections and translations:
Walter Lippmann


April 2014

July 2013
La Partida - The Last Match (Trailer)
*wow!* - LOS ANGELES/*outfest*/Tues. July 19: "The Last Match"

June 2013

PL reports on US gay marriage decision
Mariela Castro: Socialism can not be homophobic (May 2013)

Cine Club Diferente celebrates its 5th Anniversary (without barriers)

March 2013
Cuba to Host 6th Day Against Homophobia
From Taboo to Diversity
Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education spoke
about how the policies and paradigms related to sex orientation and
education over the last fifty years have been shaped in Cuba

Paquito: The Composition of the Cuban Parliament or When Homosexuality Stops Being a “Private Affair”

This show is focused on a central theme: the homoerotic discourse through art, in all its facets and extensions. The works are mostly unpublished. This time some artists have been chosen who have usually addressed this erotic universe, along with others whose work has not been distinguished by such an orientation, and were challenged to embrace it.

November 2012

Cuba’s Transsexual City Council Member Adela and Her Strength to Resist


Cuban transexual elected to municipal government (Paquito, el de Cuba)
Transgender Cuba.jpg
Adela Hernandez, 48, poses for a photo in her home in the village of Caibarien, Cuba, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (AP2012)
Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/19/transsexual-wins-local-office-in-cuba/#ixzz2Co1ih79n

Adela Hernandez, 48, poses for a photo in her home in the village of Caibarien, Cuba, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (AP2012)

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/19/transsexual-wins-local-office-in-cuba/#ixzz2Co1ih79n
Adela Hernandez, 48, poses for a photo in her home in the village of Caibarien, Cuba, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (AP2012)

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/19/transsexual-wins-local-office-in-cuba/#ixzz2Co1ih79n

Juventud Rebelde: Across the mirror

Cuba: Socialized Medicine and the Fight Against AIDS

July 2012


October 2012

June 2012: CNN's Christiane Amanpour interviews Mariela Castro:
Eyewitness Cuba: March Against Homophobia celebrates new outlook
March Against Homophobia Celebrates New Outlook in Cuba
Obama and gay marriage By Lázaro Fariñas*


Mariela Castro: Socialism With Discrimination is Inconceivable (April 2012)
TRIBUNA DE LA HABANA: Cinema Club “Diferente”: unearthing prejudices in our society
TRIBUNA: Workshop on Law and Sexual Orientation in the Caribbean

Behind the Red Light District and in Front of Cuba (Nov. 2011)

In the Wrong Body

BBC: Mariela Castro Twitter debut sparks Cuba dissident spat
REUTERS: Castro daughter, dissident blogger clash on Twitter
L.A. Premiere of Cuban Film: 'In the Wrong Body'

*wow!* - Cuban CP against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation

SAN FRANCISCO/Nov. 3, 2011: "In the Wrong Body" Meet protagonist and filmmaker

Giving dignity to what deserves none?

Message from Cindy Palacio Mediavilla, Founder of group TransCuba

LA ALBORADA: Wedding in Havana (Editorial)
CENESEX: The media, politics and the "first gay wedding"

CENESEX: on same-sex unions

Cuba gay man and transgender woman marry
http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/08/14/Trans_Woman_and_Gay_Man_Marry_in_Cuba/ video
First gay wedding - photos

AP: Cuba transgender wedding shows shifting attitudes

Peña Diferente announcements

"Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution".]
Cuba: For macho island, a shift on civil unions
Cuba is close to recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples.

Diversidad sexual en Cuba (many links. Spanish)

MH: Transgender activist resigns after clash with Castro daughter
http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/09/2307391/cuban-transgender-woman-says-she.html July 9, 2011

MH/Tamayo: Cuban transgender woman says she was fired because her lover is with opposition
To Be A Lesbian in Cuba (Spanish language video, 7 minutes)



CENESEX social networks commemorate Stonewall

Cuba’s Revolution in Attitudes About Gays, HIV+: A First-Hand Report by Byron Motley
EDGE Contributor Tuesday May 24, 2011

Report From Cuba: Living Out, Proud, Loud (At Last)
by Byron Motley EDGE Contributor Friday Jun 3, 2011
<http://www.edgeonthenet.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=local&sc2=features&sc3=&id=120\ 268

http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2011/05/07/mariela-castro-en-jornada-contra-a-homofobia-desarticulemos-todas-las-formas-de-discriminacion/ (Spanish)

Mariela Castro at the Day against Homophobia:
“Let’s Do Away with All Forms of Discrimination” 7 May 2011
Mariela Castro’s opening speech at the panel discussion anel “Sexual Diversity without Discrimination”
Saturday, May 7th, 2011, Movie House La Rampa, Vedado, Havana

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/6843/cuba_goes_both_ways_on_gay_rights/  01/21/2011

Press release by Cuban mission to United Nations (excerpt):
In Cuba, discrimination is constitutionally proscribed, whatever its nature.
There is no legislation whatsoever that penalizes a person on grounds of sexual
orientation or gender identity.

The Cuban National Center for Sex Education and the Cuban Multidisciplinary
Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES), along with other institutions,
have promoted the respect for the liberal sexual orientation and gender identity
in line with the political will of our State and Government to ensure the full
equality of all Cuban men and women.

IPS: Cuba's Controversial Vote on UN Panel
December 1, 2010

http://cubafaq.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/lesbians-demand-fair-treatment-from-health-providers/ (an IPS report)


September 2010
CUBA: Men's Group Champions "Diverse Masculinities"
By Dalia Acosta

AFP: For Cuba's gay community, Castro apology opens old wounds

Cuba's First Gender Reassigned Transexual Battles Sexism

August 2010

August 31, 2010
Fidel Castro admits responsibility for the
persecution of homosexuals in Cuba years ago

http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3080.html Complete English translation

http://kasamaproject.org/2010/08/31/castros-self-criticism-for-anti-gay-persecutions/  (leftists discuss Cuba)
http://www.queerty.com/fidel-castro-blame-me-for-cubas-persecution-of-queers-20100831/ (Gay blog discussion)
Castro admits 'injustice' for gays and lesbians during revolution
(a partial translation of the La Jornada interview)

July 2010


Der Spiegel Online: July 21, 2010
Mariela Castro Interview: "We need Changes in Cuba"

Venus de la Noche
Radio documentary on discrimination against lesbians in Cuban society, broadcast on Radio Holguin. Available to listen to in Spanish in audio archive format at Radio Holguin's website. Program note: Radio documentary reflecting the social marginalization of women homosexuals, intolerance at work, in society and the family through the testimony of a doctor and an architect who in different epochs confronted their differences in sexuality. Listen here: http://teveo.icrt.cu/fus6ek/

Argentine President Applauds Gay Marriage Law

Escrito por Lourdes chang   

jueves, 15 de julio de 2010


15 de julio de 2010, 12:03

Buenos Aires, Jul 15 (Prensa Latina) Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Thursday applauded the Senate's approval of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, the first such law in Latin America.

This is a positive step that defends the right of a minority, Fernandez said.

The Argentine Senate passed the bill at 4 a.m. Thursday after 15 hours of debate. The new law will make it possible for gay couples to marry on the same terms as heterosexual couples.

The bill, previously approved by the Chamber of Deputies, was passed 33-27 in the Senate, with three senators abstaining.

Modificado el ( jueves, 15 de julio de 2010 )

July 13, 2010
Review l Cuba's Teatro El Público offers riveting subterfuge of human nature, consequences
Special to The Miami Herald

Male actors who portray a turbulent love triangle of women would be all about gender bending. However, Havana-based Teatro El Público's rendition of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Las Amargas Lágrimas de Petra Von Kant (The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant) was a surprise from the beginning. The riveting masquerade of personalities by director Carlos Díaz is as much about character as sexuality.

World Anti-Homophobia Day programs:

Cuban drag queens take to the stage AFP May 21, 2010, 3:57 pm

Dalia Acosta: The Struggle Against Homophobia Takes to the Streets

AFP: Cuban police training guarantees respect for homosexuals:

Opening Remarks at Family and Society Panel
World Anti-Homophobia Day, Havana, Cuba 2010
by Alberto Roque Guera, CENSEX

Wendy Iriepa, a transsexual who has undergone a sex change operation, speaks to Reuters in an interview in Havana May 12, 2010. Today this 36-year-old tall, blond, exuberant Cuban is the symbol of a revolutionary program of free surgery sex change in Cuba promoted by Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro. Picture taken May 12. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Equal Rights Progress in Cuba
Comments by Karen Lee Wald and Walter Lippmann
Comments by Fred Feldman:


AP: Cubans march against homophobia:

A Dyke Abroad: A Cuban Primer for Gays (virulently hostile)

March 2010
Mysteries of Female Sexuality
by Aloyma Ravelo

January 2010

IPS: Wendy - Reconciling the Inner and Outer Image

Sex reassignment surgery already being practiced in Cuba

A gay Cuban Communist's blog (Spanish)

There Are No Tough Guys; It’s Tough To Be a Guy

Frances Negron-Muntaner:
Mariconerias of State: Mariela Castro, Homosexuals, and Cuban Politics

September 2009
HIV/AIDS treatment in Cuba: a rights-based analysis

HIV/AIDS in Cuba: lessons and challenges
By Tim Anderson

Posted on Advocate.com October 01, 2009
The New Cuban Revolución
As the daughter of President Raúl Castro, Mariela Castro Espín could have done anything -- or nothing -- with her life. So why did she decide to become a champion of Cuba’s gay and transgender communities?
Photos accompanying this story: http://advocate.com/News/World_News/Out_in_Cuba/

Sexual Diversity in Cuba: 
Smokescreen or Academic Myopia?

By: Alberto Roque Guerra

Keeping AIDS at Bay in Cuba by Bill Strubbe and Karen Wald


The truth about queer rights in Cuba
Rachel Evans 21 August 2009
A comment from Cuba on the above article:

July 2009

BBC Mariela Castro interview: Democracy is an Invention
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs2516.html English translation
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/america_latina/2009/07/090704_2254_marielacastro_intw_gtg.shtml (video)

Norge Espinosa: Cuba versus Homophobia

Morning Star (UK) July 1, 2009)

New book explores LGBT gains in Cuba

Mariela Castro: Another socialism is possible
http://www.ipsnoticias.net/nota.asp?idnews=92506 (Spanish)
Q&A: "Participatory Socialist Democracy Is Essential"
http://www.ipsnews.org/news.asp?idnews=47372  (English)

Senel Paz: "I'm a writer by ears" (Bohemia, March 12, 2009)

Strawberry and Chocolate returns to the Cuban stage

Norge Espinosa: Another rose for a rose-colored Cuba

Documentary about Cuban female hip-hop trio Las Krudas

Cuba against homophobia - No. 1:
Cuba against homophobia - No. 2:

Cuba's struggle against homophobia

Castro's daughter: Cuba to reinstate sex changes

Vancouver, CA program on Cuba's struggle vs. homophobia, May 22, 2009

15 minutes long: Spanish-language video of World Anti-Homophobia Day 2009

EFE: Cuba observes World Anti-Homophobia day with a party

Jornada cubana contra la homofobia
Un estigma que perjudica seriamente la salud
Frank Padrón • La Habana Foto: La Jiribilla
http://www.lajiribilla.cu/2009/n419_05/419_04.html (Spanish)
A Stigma That Seriously Impacts our Health
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs2451.html (English)

YouTube video of Havana's World Anti-Homophobia Day 2009

Results of a search of UNEAC's website for the term "homofobia":

La homofobia no es incurable

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=9049&cpage=1#comment-2833 English
http://ipsnoticias.net/nota.asp?idnews=92146 Spanish

Activists dance during a parade marking the International Day
Against Homophobia in Havana, Saturday, May 16, 2009.
(AP Photo/Prensa Latina/Ismael Francisco)

SEMlac list of reports on sexual diversity (2009)

Havana Times: Cuba and World Day Against Homophobia

Transvestites in the campaign against homophobia

May 2009
Cine-Club "Diferente": A proposal to consider

Mariela, the daughter of President Castro, talks about sex in Cuba
Among other things, she's not happy she hasn't been able to convince her father to permit
gays to serve in Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Allen Young, a former leftist recounts his unhappy experiences on the political left, including his unhappy experiences in Cuba many decades ago, which he often recycles.Young wrote the bitterly hostile 1981 booklet Gays Under the Cuban Revolution.  I take up some of the issues Allen Young raises on this blog:

HEALTH-CUBA: HIV-Positive Want Respect, Not Tolerance
By Dalia Acosta

CENESEX: Diversity is natural:



'Milk' star Sean Penn: Pal of anti-gay dictators?
04:20 PM PT, Dec 11 2008

Cuban embodies changing face of HIV

Q&A: Masculinity Doesn't Mean Macho

CUBA:  Films that Tackle Touchy Social Issues
By Dalia Acosta

New bent on the Cuban revolution
Cultural Crossroads interviews Iranian-born Montrealer Babak Salari
on his new book of photography about Cuba's queer artistic scenes


The Dynamic Debut of Raúl Castro [excerpt]
On June 14, 2008, Cuba launched "Together with You," a government-endorsed movement to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS among men. This dynamic treatment of AIDS has been broadened to include planned proposals to affirm same-sex unions scheduled for 2009. The initiative backed by Raúl has once again surpassed the pace of comparable U.S. social reforms, pushing toward collective equality by also providing governmental coverage of applicable gender-reassignment surgery. Given the conservative nature of Cuban society, these monumental decisions, beginning with the abolition of anti-sodomy laws in 1979, has now surpassed faltering U.S. progress toward tackling homophobia. Up to the mid-1990s, Cuba was routinely condemned for its intolerance, at least until the release of the film Strawberry and Chocolate. With the screening of a film exhibiting homosexuality, Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly, affirms the idea that - socialism should be a society that does not exclude anybody.  In other words, Alarcon's statement conveys the need to redefine and expand the definition of marriage, reforms which presently rest in the government's hands. The decision to discuss same-sex unions is yet another indication of a more pluralistic agenda developing within Cuban society.

Queerly Cuba
PHOTOGRAPHY / Montreal photographer Babak Salari renders the island's invisible visible
Matthew Hays / Vancouver / Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Cast in stunning black and white,
Iranian-born Babak Salari's images
of queer Cubans are clearly empowering
for the subjects, presented without any hint of apology.



Cultural Prejudice Still Lingers

Evergreen State University - Washington State
Faculty-led program to take students to Cuba next spring


Check the photos here:

Transexuales en Cuba

Transexuales en Cuba. Entrevista en el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (La Habana). Hablan personas transexuales que llevan a cabo programas con la familia y la comunidad.


Castro champions gay rights in Cuba

Photo from Carnival in Santiago de Cuba. Undated, but possibly 2008?

Gays and the Cuban Penal Code

David Thorstad: Cuban penal code: mea culpa:

Diversity is the norm
(Dossier from University of Havana newspaper, Alma Mater, for World Anti-Homophobia celebration in Cuba, May 17, 2008)


Human beings, not only are we different in appearance, so are our lifestyles, ways of thinking and acting. However, the history of our species could be chronicled from the hegemony of some over others, who have tried to perpetuate their power, discriminating by skin color, gender, region of origin or sexual orientation.

Alma Mater prefers that we relate ourselves from that richness that there is in "differences" or from the plurality that all women and men can contribute in order to build ourselves as social beings.

It is not surprising that in the pages of this university magazine controversial subjects about gender perspectives, ingrained machismo and a person's right to define and enjoy their sexual orientation, have been frequently debated without this implying a discriminatory mark on the internal family, a group of friends or society as a whole.

This time we share and mark the efforts of several Cuban institutions and especially the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) for developing the Cuban Day Against Homophobia.

We compiled, through a dossier of articles, commentaries, reports and interviews, what has seen the light in this publication. It is our grain of sand for this persevering work which puts women and men at the center, regardless of their differences.

CubaNews translation by Sue Greene.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION (just starting):

CubaNews translation by Sue Greene.

Just found, in 2008, from TEN years ago (1998):

Cuba's transformists

Drag artists used to end up in jail for performing in a house
Cuba is not known for its policies of social liberalism. For Cuban transsexuals and transvestites, life has been particularly hard - they have been barred from many public positions, some have been locked up. But in the last decade the authorities have relaxed their view. The Transformists, a group of Havana drag artists, are expanding their hips and painting their faces for a weekly back yard cabaret. The full story is longer. Go there.
(NOTE: from Walter: in Spanish, "Transformista" means cross-dresser.
or perhaps drag queen or drag king, depending on context.)

(Sorry, the graphics vanished from the source site.)

Victor Fowler: We are survivors (La Jiribilla, April 5-11, 2008)http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs2250.html


Cuba regards homophobia, not homosexuality, as the problem. Its efforts to remove legal and social barriers impeding dignity and parity for sexual minorities are exemplary. Cuba is the benchmark for LGBT freedom in Latin America and a global leader in gender and sexual equality. This site is a news magazine featuring the lives, culture and happenings of LGBT people in Cuba today.

Cuba: Celebrations of advancing gay rights
by Marcel Hatch

Mariela Castro: Cuba and sexual diversity,
some comments and clarifications.
This is a response to the claim that a gay-rights march was prevented in Cuba on June 25, 2008.
In both English and Spanish on the same page.

Cuba Culture and Discovery Tour for Mature Gays

Joe - Junto a ti (Desde Mi Cayito) - Dir. Joel Guilian


Pablo Milanes: "No queers in the party"


Cuban Catholic Church responds to World Anti-Homophobia Day



Cuba Cancels Gay Pride Parade
By Sue Katz, Consenting Adult. Posted July 1, 2008.


COHA: The Politics of Illogicality
19. Rights for Homosexuals: Raúl Castro has allowed a very active gay community to emerge in a country where homosexuality was previously considered an aberrant criminal offense. In May 2008, this newly empowered group organized a government-supported campaign against homophobia. It was the first time since the Revolution that Cuban society has been allowed to gather and speak about this topic. In addition, the state television network transmitted the American feature film about a homosexual affair titled “Brokeback Mountain” over its prime-time schedule. Equally significant, the Cuban parliament is discussing proposals to legalize same-sex unions and give homosexual couples the same legal benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Just last month, the authorities stated that not only would restrictions on sex-change operations be lifted, but that the government would offer them free of charge to qualifying individuals. Even with the setback witnessed with the detainment of the organizers of what would have been the first gay parade, which aimed at obtaining an apology from the government for its past repression of homosexuality, it would be a mistake to deny that “change is coming,”1 and that “important strides have been made… [homosexuals are] slowly gaining a space in society and that’s important.”2

Church in Cuba questions government’s promotion of homosexuality


The ‘Telenovela’ as Springboard for Public Debate

Catholic Church gets it wrong on gay rights
(Rightist Cuban-American blogger faults church for not being hostile enough to the Cuban government.)

Karen Lee Wald responds to "gay pride parade cancelled"

Cuba's gay pride parade cancelled

If you go ... to the rally for Cuba's first Gay Pride parade

Cuba's gays set for parade today

Cuban church protests support for gay rights

Unity Coalition to rally in Miami to support first gay pride march in Cuba

Cabaret: The Cuban version

NEW Homosexuality in Cuba: The price of the difference (La Jiribilla/Alma Mater)

Cuba to offer free sex changes

Cuba approves sex-change operations


Autoriza el gobierno del presidente Raúl Castro las operaciones de cambio de sexo

NEW Sexuality in Cuba: Abel Sierra 25/06/08

Free Sex Change Operations Approved

Sexual Diversity - the Rainbow Revolution

Senel Paz receives literary award in Portugal

Stinkin' Liar
Excerpt from Miami's just released Cuban Novel, Down to the Bone,
written by moi, Mayra Lazara Dole.


Our Secrets Are Safe Tonight
Havana December 2006

NEW Frida from Cuban Art


Special issue of La Jiribilla published after World Anti-Homophobia Day:
May 24-30, 2008

Socialist Cuba promotes anti-homophobia campaign
Sunday, May 25, 2008 By: John Peter Daly

27 second CNN report on World Anti-Homophobia Day in Cuba
http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2008/05/19/cuba-international-day-vs-homophobia/ http://www.queerty.com/cuba-france-join-intl-effort-against-homophobia-20080519/ http://www.nydailynews.com/latino/2008/05/19/2008-05-19_cuba_holds_large_gay_rights_rally_.html

LA JORNADA: Hundreds mark World Day Against Homophobia in Havana

Cuba marks World Day Against Homophobia (Report on Saturday's public event)


Join the historic first LGBT tour of Cuba. All are welcomed!
Saturday 28 June to Saturday 5 July 2008 

Cuban Government Backs Calls to Combat Homophobia







NEW He's not a monster, he's our son!


NEW Today a different kind of movie club starts

NEW Cuba marks World Anti-Homophobia Day

Hostile commentary from Cuban exile living in Australia
Now, it'd be churlish to criticise Ms Castro's work on behalf of one of the most marginalised minorities in Cuba. But her ability to essentially whitewash the atrocious treatment of Cuban homosexuals over the past 50 years by the regime led by her uncle, her father and the likes of Ricardo Alarcon is, well, breath-taking.

CENESEX proposes conjugal visits for gay prisoners

Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations
Thus, when we look at the recent good moves on this file in Cuba in concert with the multiple attempts by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to make Venezuela the first country on the face of the planet to explicitly recognize same-sex marriages in the text of the constitution, it is clear that socialism, when done right, is a way forward for everyone.

There’s still a lot of work to be done throughout Latin America for the GLBT community, and we should especially make sure not to let the governments —

Aceptar la diversidad
Por: Suleidy Peñate Ramos cip241@cip.enet.cu http://www.rcm.cu/trabajos/2008/mayo/16/comentario_homofobia.htm

Sexual diversity - judging or understanding?
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs1939.html Complete English translation
PDF of this two-page article:

Mariela Castro: Cubans can't be denied the right to leave the country (La Vanguardia, Spain)

Cuba Increasing HIV Prevention Efforts Targeted at MSM, Health Official Says

Belgian surgeons to perform Cuba's gender reassignment operations
AFP: Cubans should be free to travel, says Castro daughter
EFE: Cuba says it has over 9,000 HIV and AIDS cases

AFP: Raul Castro's daughter among Cuba's young leaders
AFP: Raul Castro's daughter spearheads anti-homophobia drive


Cuba will mark world day against homophobia, La Jornada, May 6, 2008

Diversidad es la norma  Programa de lucha contra la homofobia
Jornada Cubana por el Día Mundial contra la Homofobia 17 de mayo 2008

Memo to Europe from Mariela Castro

Cuba marks world day against homophobia for second time (La Jornada)

Debate over homophobia on Cuban TV program.

Sexual diversity on Screen (SEMlac)

Love, Censorship and other demons (Juventud Rebelde)
Within more traditional boundaries is Jesús Miguel Hernández’s Ella trabaja (She works), about the occasionally but still insufficiently addressed topic of transvestism in Cuba: as made quite clear by the interviewees’ graphic testimony, the new subjects can and should join the efforts to develop our society while they fulfill themselves as social beings, which goes way beyond the specific details of this issue. Among «the others», even those who have the best intentions harbor prejudice and misunderstanding (calling their leanings «a flaw», for example, remains a regular feature in urgent need of clarification and neutralization). http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs1800.html


Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (2008)
Voodoo Woman
, historia de un documentalista que llega a Cuba a filmar sobre el hip hop y descubre el secreto mundo de la Santería. En esta cinta dirigida por la colombiana Carolina Valencia, la santería exorciza los fantasmas sexuales del cineasta, tras lo cual decide convertirse en mujer

Group of Transgender People Spread HIV Prevention Messages Among MSM in Cuba

Mayra Lazara Dole: Letter to Cuba/Carta Pa’ Cuba:

Interview with Mayra Lazara Dole

i hope this email finds you well. My Miami Cuban YA novel, Down to the
, was just released by Harper Collins. It's got an all Cuban LGBTQ cast
of characters (a few who just arrived from Cuba, some Miami Cuban right-wing
homophobes, mixed with amazing Cuban youth, etc.). you asked me a while back
to let you know when it was released.

Cuban parliament considers LGBT rights bill

QUEERTY: Mariela Castro's Gay Gamble

Painting Cuba
The artist and documentarian James Rauchman, 55, has been doing a colossal series of work about gay life in Havana, Cuba. What began as the expression of a sexual obsession has grown into a major series of works in different forms - oil, watercolor, film - that embraces the kaleidoscopic contradictions of gay people's experiences in Cuba.

A meeting of transvestites and transgender people in HavanaCastro Champions Gay Rights in Cuba
Transexuals and transvestites meet at support group sessions.

Women Talk to Women about HIV/AIDS


Emilio Bejel: The Write Way Home, A Cuban-American Story (2003)

Transvestites and Transformistas against AIDS (IPS)
Transvestites and Crossdressers Key Workers Against AIDS
By Dalia Acosta

Raul Castro a blur to S.D. team that played in Cuba
If anything, the new 76-year-old ruler of Cuba is quieter than his brother, Abourezk said. And Landau added that Raul Castro's style is somewhat different from Fidel, even if the substance of their governance is the same. Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro Espin, is director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. She has long campaigned for effective AIDS prevention, as well as acceptance of homosexuality, Landau said.

Cuba in Transition II
Saturday, February 16th 2008


Same-Sex Marriage in Cuba Floated
By: ANDY HUMM 02/14/2008
The culture minister of Cuba, Abel Prieto, has come out in favor of same-sex marriage - another indication that the country is liberalizing under acting President Raul Castro, brother of the legendary Fidel, whose persecution and incarceration of homosexuals decades ago was widely documented. ©GayCityNews 2008

Politburo member backs gay marriage in Cuba


Interesting Debates on Taboo Subjects
in Workshop Gender and Communication in the East of Cuba

Gay Marriage Coming to Cuba?

Cuban law may recognise same-sex partners, say officials

Cuba moving towards marriage equality

Society is gradually shifting ground on sexual diversity

                                                 El gay y otros sujetos semejantes en el audiovisual cubano

Cuba: Lesbians Marry With Government Blessing

Achy Obejas talks about Cuba, books and sexuality

Of women, silences and lovers
(Juventud Rebelde)
A Cuban play’s interesting approach to maternity
might help break the silence about the issue of lesbianism.

Cuba’s official homophobia of days gone by a mistake
(Mariela Castro: La Jornada, December 10, 2007)

Machismo not OK, but not yet K.O. in Cuba (IPS)

5 December 07 - Gradually, more men in Cuba are declining to take on traditional masculine behaviour patterns, and women who oppose the machismo and sexism that still predominates are opening up ways of changing gender relations, beyond the effects of official measures taken to promote equality over the last 50 years.


(Juventud Rebelde, November 2007)

Transexualism: Between Being and Pretending
(Juventud Rebelde, November 2007)

Is homosexuality persecuted in Cuba? (Comments and video)
Gay liberationist John O'Brien disagrees:

Lovers torn apart by Castro's Cuba

IMPORTANT - from a top Catholic bishop
El matrimonio y la familia a lo largo del cristianismo.
por Monseñor Carlos M. de Céspedes GARCÍA-MENOCAL
El matrimonio y la familia a lo largo de la historia del cristianismo.

From Cuba, where homosexuals fair poorly . . .
01:00 AM EDT on Monday, September 24, 2007


Prominent Cuban Roman Catholic accepts civil union, but not gay marriage:

Mariela Castro: Cuba is ready for transformations with and without Fidel (English)

Mariela Castro: Cuba está preparada para transformaciones con y sin Fidel
Viernes, 03 de Agosto de 2007

San Francisco Queer Group Headed For Cuba 07.28.07
The tour is being conducted by Sonja de Vries, co-founder of San Francisco-based Queers for Cuba, the first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) group to be officially invited to Cuba. Ms. de Vries studied race and gay issues in Havana from 1993 to 1994, and her groundbreaking documentary "Gay Cuba" remains the last word on the subject.

Clarification on message above:

Lesbianism: Woman vs. Woman? (Somos Jovenes, April 2007)

Cuba surpasses world on same-sex, trans rights

Castro's neice [sic] pushes for gay rights in Cuba

Cuba goes ape shit over Mapplethorpe (July 3, 2007)

Marilyn Bobes - Senel Paz: ¿Reconciliación con la literatura?

Communist Cuba Goverment [sic] Seeks to Secure
Homosexual "Right" to Adoption  (6-28-2007)

Cuban government seeking to make adoption
a “right” for homosexual couples

Cuba going queer? (June 18, 2007)

Cuba entierra el 'machismo-leninismo'

Cuba fights AIDS in its own way (2003)

L.E.: ¿Dos lesbianas se pueden contagiar con el VIH si una
está infectada? ¿De qué forma? ¿Cómo se puede evitar?


CUBA: Proposed Reform Would Give Gay Couples Equal Rights
By Dalia Acosta (June 15, 2007)

Ernesto Gonzalez: Gay Cuban author from Chicago:

http://www.amazon.com/Las-Costas-del-Para%C3%ADso-Soterrada/dp/1419630938 http://armengol.blogspot.com/2006/07/publican-novela-sobre-la-vida-gay-en.html

Arthur Sotto's Night of... (June 5, 2007)

Mariela Castro Espin, in her own words.

T-Shirt says: "How do I love you?"




A Castro Strives to Open Cuban Society’s Opinions on Sex
By MARC LACEY, June 9, 2007

Cuba vive una revolución... sexual

Leonardo Padura Fuentes profiles author Senel Paz (Spanish)
Paz wrote the story which became the film Strawberry and Chocolate)

Sexuality Between Two Waters (Somos Jovenes, December 2006)
This essay discusses bisexuality

Let's Talk About Sexuality
by Beatriz Torres Rodríguez
Chapter 7: Sexual Orientation
Editorial Scientifica-Technica, 2006

Calvin Tucker: Havana Rights (Guardian), March 28, 2007

Karen Lee Wald: helpful comments on Calvin Tucker's Guardian article:

Mariela: Bush Bites
Q.: Is respect for the rights of homosexuals a sign of change or transition in Cuba?

A.: Absolutely. Cubans have understood perfectly the need to respect the
sexual tendencies everyone has, and that's not a symptom of anything else.

When it comes to gay rights,
is Cuba inching ahead of USA?

By DeWayne Wickham  USA TODAY


Homosexuals as the New Niggers (1973)
Race and Sex in Cuba (2007)
(Basically, this says Cuba is a Terrible place in all ways!)

As Castro fades, a crop of new leaders

Sashaying Through a Door Swung Open in Cuba,
Jose Shines as Nayla

By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 26, 2006; A22



GORE VIDAL IN CUBA (Selection of news stories)

Armando Armengol: Homosexual Encounter (El Nuevo Herald)

Mariela Castro: New Face of Castro's Cuba Dynasty
(Scotsman 12-09-2006)

Cycle of Gay Cinema opens in Cuba (11-14-2006)

Video from CNN on gays in Cuban life and television:
NOTE: The image can be blown up much larger.

Cuban gay soap cracks a legacy of hate
The huge success of a gay soap opera suggests Cuban society
has begun to accept homosexuality.


Mariela Castro: "I am proud of my father" (BBC interview)
Federico Garcia Lorca in his Cuban Period (2006)

Federico Garcia Lorca: Goblin and Angel (2006)

Sexual Revolution: Mariela Castro speaks out for Cuba's gay minority

Mariela Castro, niece of Fidel Castro, attends a session on human rights yesterday at the Palais des congres. She is a vocal supporter of rights for Cuba's lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered.Mariela Castro, niece of Fidel Castro, attends a session on human rights yesterday at the Palais des congres. She is a vocal supporter of rights for Cuba's lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered. (July 29, 2006)



Cuban gays find support in Fidel's Niece (Miami Herald, July 29, 2006

Cómo trata Cuba el homosexualismo? (Radio Rebelde, July 14, 2006)

I'm homosexual...So what? (Somos Jovenes, June 2006)

Castro Niece Fights for New Revolution (Reuters, June 29, 2006)

Respect for Sexual Diversity
(Juventud Rebelde, June 10, 2006)

Homosexualidad en Cuba: el debate sale a la palestra (El Nuevo Herald
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/50951 (Spanish)

AIDS is the Problem, Not Sexual Preference (Trabajadores) June 2006

Art and Love vs. AIDS (2006)

Gary Marx: Helping Cubans realize "what it means to be gay"

Larry Oberg: The Status of Gays and Lesbians in Cuba (March 2006)
http://www.cubanlibrariessolidaritygroup.org.uk/articles.asp?ID=177 English
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs654.html French

Infomed postings on La Cara Oculta de la Luna

Giant panel discussion at CubaSi website - over 32 thousand words (Spanish)


The visible side of the moon.

Cuba divided on the issue of bisexuality (La Jornada, May 8, 2006)

Gay Soap Opera Stirs Cuba
The talk of Cuba is a soap opera that broaches the subject of homosexuality for the first time on the country's television, the BBC reported. Besides dealing with a taboo subject and becoming a dominant subject of conversation on the job and in the streets, the telenovela "The Dark Side of the Moon," about the problems of a married bisexual man, has led to discrimination against its leading actor, Rafael Lahera. "People think I'm gay," he said, adding that he has been turned down for acting jobs because prospective employers don't want to hire a gay man. The men in the telenovela are not shown having physical contact, but the dialogue has created a stir. Yaser (Mr. Lahera), the bisexual who learns about himself through a sexual relationship with a male friend, is rejected by his parents and is met by revulsion among his other friends. "Everything I have sacrificed myself for, I have lost," he says. His partner expresses understanding. "I also lost the affection of my parents and siblings," he says. Reacting to "The Dark Side of the Moon," an unidentified retired man told the BBC, "I cannot get used to it, because what we were taught when we were young was morally different."
Arts, Briefly: The New York Times, May 5, 2006

La Naturaleza pone y el hombre dispone (Sexo Sentido, May 6, 2006)

Aqua Girl: A Beach Party Fundraiser with Class
(Miami Herald, May 6, 2006) lesbians in Miami helping one another

An Open Message (Interview with
Rafael (Cheíto) González, director of Cuban
soap opera La Cara Oculta de la luna, published April 28, 2006.


La Cara Oculta: Our goal has not been to shock.

Gay Soap Causing a Stir in Cuba

Cuban Soap Opera Causes Controversy (BBC, May 3, 2006

Evidencias de un relieve incómodo Joel del Río • La Habana

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - excerpt on Cuban website

La cara oculta de… Yassel Yanela Soler Mas • La Habana

A revealed face: Paquita Armas Fonseca • La Habana

Cuba: A Different AIDS TV lineup (April 25, 2006

TV Serial Stirs Up Social Controversy
Orlando Matos, April 17, 2006

The "Look" - Where does it come from?

El Che de los gays (Victor Robles, a Chilean gay activist)
(English translation of the Chilean activist's page)

Not so hidden and yes unavoidable
This current dramatic series on Cuban television deals with many topics, but centers on the relationship between an openly gay man and his married, closeted male lover.

The Little Red Riding Hood syndrome
“My name’s Joel. I’ve been a health promoter for four years, since I got HIV. My family, mainly on my mother’s side, has just started to accept me. They bear with me, albeit out of pity because I’m infected.

Gay beaches in Cuba; Gay Friendly Beach Locations

Gay love in a time of Cholera (Cuba Literaria March 28, 2006)

Not your usual suspects: Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura interview by Political Affairs
(In both English and Spanish at the same page.)

El amor gay en el tiempo de la cólera


Mariela Castro interview (MEDICC Review, March-April 2006)

Gender, Vulnerability and their relation to HIV/AIDS (2006)

Unseen Faces

Cuban TV series on Aids Sparks Controversy (EFE)

Brokeback Mountain
http://www.cenesex.sld.cu/webs/diversidad/fresay.htm (Spanish excerpt by Annie Proulx on Cuban website)

Lesbianas y VIH

Promiscuidad, el falso dilema

Escritor Julio César González Pagés.For Dressing like a Man.
A new Book on Transexuality.  

By: Danae C. Diéguez. 


Mariela Castro at the National Assembly 12-2005

Cuban parliament studies transsexual recognition


Wendy: to live in a wrong body

No turning back on gay rights in Cuba (12-2005)

Mapplethorpe llega a la Fototeca
¿Mapplethorpe en La Habana?
Mapplethorpe Exhibit arrives in a more tolerant Cuba (12/2005)


Confrontación con el arquetipo
Carlos Sanchez, ILGA LAC rep tells us about his cuban experience 12/03/2004

Pascual Serrano on "Sexual Freedom:
More Ammunition for Lies about Cuba in El País


Eduardo Galeano: Los diablos del Diablo (2005)

Gay Rights in Cuba: How Much Has Changed? (2004)

Understanding and Accepting your child's Sexuality (2004)

Frente a la orientación homosexual de los hijos

Police campaign against transvestites (BBC 2004)

Cuban police get "gender" training (2004)


Dalia Acosta: Homosexuality Takes a Step Out of the Closet (IPS)

Gay Cuba: letter to The Advocate

Casablanca on the Caribbean (The Advocate) - 2003

Sex Conference in Cuba covers everything from implants to abuse (2003)

Sex, Violence and the language of Adults (2002)

LaJiribilla: special issue on homosexuality (2002)

Marilyn Bobes: Homosexuality in Cuban Literature (2002)

May 08, 2001 THE ADVOCATE
Before Night Falls inspires protests in London

A gala charity screening of Before Night Falls, based on the autobiography of gay Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas, was picketed at the London Human Rights Watch film festival, according to The [London] Guardian. There are further plans to stage protests when the film goes into wide release throughout the United Kingdom next month. Both opponents and supporters of the Fidel Castro government, as well as gay activists, were involved in the picketing. Steve Williamson of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign claims the portrait of Castro in the film is simplistic and that “the real story is much more complicated.” Williamson, who is an expert on the writings of Arenas, points out that “Arenas was an amazing person and a great magical realist. His life was fantastic in every way. He undoubtedly suffered because of what happened during that period in Cuba, which was wrong; but if you elevate what he wrote and what the film presents as an actual record of events, you are falsifying history.” He further states that “Cuba...is by far the most progressive country in Latin America as regards gay rights.... Cubans have come to terms with gay issues in an unprecedented way.” Amnesty International apparently agrees that Cuba has quite a good record on gay rights. The film’s director, Julian Schnabel, says, “I didn’t mean to make a political film, but I guess I did.”

by Jon Hillson
http://www.blythe.org/arenas.html English
http://www.blythe.org/arenas-s.html Spanish
http://www.lajiribilla.cu/2001/n1_abril/021_1.html Cuban site

Gays in Cuba: From the Hollywood School of Falsification (2001)
Leonardo Hechavarria and Marcel Hatch
http://www.walterlippmann.com/lgbt-cuba-003. English
html http://vdedaj.club.fr/spip/article.php3?id_article=7  French

U.S. State Dept. on Status of Homosexuals in Cuba (1999)

Gay Identity in Recent Latin American Cinema 2005)

Para usted, esta información sobre el VIH SIDA


La Jiribilla page on Reinaldo Arenas

The Unintended Politics of Brokeback Mountain

MEDICC reports on Cuba's anti-AIDS strategy (2001)

Peter Tatchell: Gay Cuba? Not Yet! (2001)

Peter Tatchell: Gay Rights and Wrongs in Cuba (2002)

Jon Hillson: Against "Theories of Homosexuality" (2003)

Havana in the 1990s: No longer choosing between
thieves and faggots, by Amaury Fernandez Lopez

GAY CUBAN NATION (2001) (book)
by Emelio Bejel (Literary history and criticism)
University of Chicago Press

Machos, Maricones and Gays (1996)
by Ian Lumsden  (book) At once quite sympathetic and quite critical. Best book on the subject, so far.
Read Chapter One at Amazon.com:

Strawberry and Chocolate: Ice Cream and Tolerance
Interview with Tomas Gutierrez Alez (1995)

Homosexualidad, Homosexualismo y etica humanista (book)
by Felipe de J. Perez Cruz
Study of homosexuality and gay liberation politics,
published by major Cuban house, 1999. In Spanish.

Gays Under The Cuban Revolution (1981)
by Allen Young  (an extremely hostile book)
Critique at Amazon.com:

International Gay and Lesbian Association (NGO)

http://www.ilga.org/ Using the search engine on the site, enter "Cuba" and a raft of information, good and bad, will come up.


El desconocimiento sobre el origen de la homosexualidad ha fomentado la existencia de mitos y prejuicios que favorecen el rechazo hacia estas personas. En Cuba no hay leyes vigentes que las perjudiquen. Sin embargo, a pesar de la sucesión generacional y de la importante ruptura que significó la Revolución cubana contra el moralismo machista, todavía pesan prejuicios y tabúes al respecto.

La falta de conocimiento sobre la vida de los homosexuales, los prejuicios arraigados en la sociedad y el temor a enfrentar esa realidad, han provocado que se identifique esa orientación sexual con un grupo de hábitos negativos (prostitución, agresividad, vicios, debilidad, etc.) que son rechazados por la inmensa mayoría de los homosexuales y pueden ser tan frecuentes como en otros grupos sociales.

La ciencia ha demostrado que los homosexuales que requieren de apoyo emocional, incluso hasta tratamiento psiquiátrico, son aquellos que han sido víctimas del aislamiento y el rechazo en que se han visto obligados a vivir. El daño psicológico que sufren estos individuos y su familia no es el único costo que provoca la homofobia. La sociedad también pierde, porque se priva de la contribución de sus miembros, de la participación activa de individuos que pueden ser tan talentosos y consagrados como cualquier otro.

Para que conozcas mejor las características de este fenómeno en  Cuba, ponemos a tu disposición algunos trabajos:

"Más relajados, no más tolerantes", entrevista de la revista Alma Mater a Mariela Castro, Directora de CENESEX

More relaxed, but not more tolerant.

CUBA: Gay rights: how much has changed?

Feminismo y masculinidad: Mujeres contra hombres? (May 27, 2005)

Feminismo y masculinidad: ¿mujeres contra hombres?
por: Julio César González Pagés
Profesor. Universidad de la Habana.

Tomado de: Revista Temas,  número 37-38/Abril-Septiembre 2004

Seminar looks at homosexuality in Cuba (El Nuevo Herald, June 28,1997)

"El precio de la diferencia", estudio realizado por la revista Alma Mater sobre la homosexualidad en Cuba

"La política sexual de Reinaldo Arenas", reflexión histórica sobre la homosexualidad en Cuba, del activista político norteamericano Jon Hillson

"LA POLICIA DEL SEXO: la homofobia durante el siglo XIX en Cuba", artículo histórico del Lic. Abel Sierra Madero


Lo gay tambien vende de Ms.C. Isabel Moya Richard

Entrevista a la Lic. Mariela Castro, directora del CENESEX

Personal ads at CENESEX website, organized by province:

Y además...

El Poder del Cuerpo y sus Gestos. Travestismo e Identidad de Género en Ámerica Colonial:
El Caso de Catalina de Erauso
, por Victor Rocha. Universidad de Chile

La Homosexualidad en la Historia, por Robert J. Buchanan

El rostro múltiple de la homofobia, fragmentos del artículo de Louis-Georges Tin

Identidad y autoaceptación de mujeres lesbianas y bisexuales por Paulina Martínez

Machismo, misoginia y homofobia, artículo de Daniel Cazés Menache

"Hijos de un solo sexo"


"El peligroso arco iris", artículo de Eduardo Galeano publicado en La Jiribilla

¿QUÉ SIGNIFICAN LAS NUEVAS VICTORIAS POR LOS DERECHOS DE LOS GAYS EN ESTADOS UNIDOS?, artículo del activista político estadounidense Jon Hillson.

Homofobias: Un manual diagnóstico y político, artículo de la Dra. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl (E.U.A.)

La aberrante prohibición del Arco Iris Indígena

¿Orgullo? gay por Bradford Lang Rothrock

Escríbenos a: diversidad@infomed.sld.cu

¿Por qué practicamos el sexo oral?

Amar, comer y pensar: recetas para un sexo más rico

Elton John dispara contra todo el mundo

La masturbación: Una forma muy segura de sexualidad

A las parejas estadounidenses les gusta el sexo a la intemperie

Los afrodisíacos naturales

La homosexualidad en la música

¿Un amor homosexual en la vida de Goya?  

George Michael habla de todo: sexo, drogas, hombres, suicidios y mujeres
La bandera arco iris

¿Eres activo, pasivo o versátil?

¿"Hombres bellos" o metrosexuales?

Los Jeans

La Fauna Homosexual

To Be Gay in Cuba (1980)

Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas
by Andrew Reding ( December 2003)


[This is just the section on Cuba of a 113 page report available here:
http://www.worldpolicy.org/globalrights/sexorient/2003-LGBT-Americas.pdf ]

Recent reforms have led to improvements in the treatment of sexual minorities, but independent LGBT organizations and publications are prohibited, and there are no gay pride marches or gay clubs.

Article 359 of the 1979 Penal Code provided for fines and detention for those who “publicly flaunted their homosexual condition or hassled or solicited another with their demands.” It also categorized “homosexual acts in public, or in private but exposed to being involuntarily seen by other people” as “crimes against the normal development of sexual relations.”296

That language was considerably toned down in the 1988 reform of the penal code. A further reform of the code in 1997 removed remaining discriminatory language. The offense designated “public scandal” was changed to “sexual insult,” which is now defined to include harassment with “sexual demands,” in place of the previous language “hassling with homosexual demands.”297

On July 28, 1994, five lesbians and thirteen gay men formed the Cuban Association of Gays and Lesbians in Havana. In 1997 the government arrested its members and effectively shut down the organization.298

In March 2002, Ricardo Alarcón, President of the Cuban National Assembly, conceded that his government had discriminated against homosexuals in the past:

I acknowledge that at one time discriminatory attitudes existed regarding homosexuals and religious practitioners, never against women and blacks. From the beginning, the Revolution was liberating in that sense. However, we acknowledge that there have been deficiencies in both areas. As for homosexuals, there have been mistakes, and regarding religion, sectarianism.299

But, said Alarcón, that has changed, and there is now “more liberty than ever” for homosexuals in Cuba.300 One sign of change was the critically-acclaimed 1993 film Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate), a sympathetic portrayal of a friendship between a gay man and a young communist. But the Cuban government still does not allow the existence of independent LGBT organizations and periodicals. There are no gay pride marches, and no gay clubs.301

Though public antipathy towards homosexuals is gradually easing, it remains quite high according to a survey conducted in Cuban cities in 2002. More than half of the respondents believed gays and lesbians were “people with problems,” and more than one in five said they were sick and needed medical treatment. Six out of seven persons expressed aversion to lesbians, with the antipathy particularly strong among women.302

As in Brazil and Haiti, African cultural influences dating to the period of slavery have provided some counterbalance to the dominant Iberian tradition of machismo and to the attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church. That African tradition has been far more tolerant of unconventional expressions of sexuality.

Though Roman Catholicism was forcibly imposed upon African slaves by their Spanish masters, the slaves responded by concealing their religion behind the outward forms of Catholicism. Catholic saints provided perfect cover for the worship of traditional Yoruba spirits. The resulting syncretic religion is known as Santería, in reference to the worship of saints. It is also known as Lucumí, a term derived from the Yoruba greeting oluku mi (“my friend”). Because of its origins as an underground religion, much of Santería holds to a tradition of secrecy. There are no sacred texts. Minister-initiates are known as santeros (male) or santeras (female), and advanced ministers as babalawos or babalaos (literally “fathers of divination”). Only men can become babalawos.303

Practitioners of Santería recognize a central creative force in the universe, known as Oloddumare (Olodumare). That force expresses itself through ashé, the spiritual energy that finds numerous channels of greater or lesser receptivity in the created world. Ashé’s Catholic counterpart is Christ. The orishas – roughly comparable to the lwa of Haitian Vodou – are archetypal embodiments of ashé, and “rule over every force of nature and every aspect of human life.” 304

The orishas are the repositories of Oloddumare’s ashé. All the invocations, propitiations, spells, and rituals of Santería are conducted to acquire ashé from the orishas. With ashé, all problems can be solved, enemies can be subdued, love and money can be acquired.305

Though orishas have traditionally been disguised as saints, the two are not truly equivalent. Initiates commonly use the African names of orishas, and only think of the saints as particular incarnations of their corresponding orishas.306

Initiates interact with the orisha through prayer, ritual offerings, and trance possession. The life of each initiate is believed to be guided by a particular orisha, who is a sort of guardian angel. Because the orishas are not immortal, they must be fed from time to time. That feeding is done through ritual sacrifice known as ebbó, in which an orisha is presented with the blood of his or her favorite animal, combined with his or her favorite herbs. Spirit possession is brought about in the course of a drumming party called a tambor or bembé. Each spirit (orisha) is summoned in ritual by its own distinctive rhythmic pattern on batáa (batá) drums, which opens the appropriate channels of ashé (these enormously varied rhythms have, incidentally, played a key role in the development of Latin music). The orisha then “rides” or “mounts” the body of a santero, who temporarily becomes the vehicle for that spirit to interact with the initiates who take part in the ritual.307

Because of the diversity of orishas, their dualism with Catholic saints, and the fact that they take both male and female form, spirit possession provides opportunities for uncensored self-expression, including socially-acceptable deviations from conventional rules of gender and sexual behavior.

Santería is broadly tolerated in communist Cuba. That may in part be because the religion has no centralized ecclesiastical leadership structure that could act as a focus of dissent against the regime. Another reason is suggested by anthropologist Migene González-Wippler:

Probably the reason Fidel Castro allows the practice of Santería in Cuba has to do with its tremendous importance in the cultural, sociological, and spiritual development of the Cuban people. Santería is an intrinsic part of Cuban music, religious practices, and social structure.308

According to the UNDP, the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in 2001 was less than 0.1 percent of adults aged 15-49, under a sixth the rate in the USA. As of the end of 2001, UNAIDS estimated there were 3,200 persons infected with HIV out of a total population of 11.2 million.309 As of April-May 2002, the National Center for Diagnostic Reference (Centro Nacional de Referencia Diagnóstico) listed a cumulative total of 4,062 persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, some 1,000 of whom had died. Of the remaining three thousand, 566 persons were receiving antiretroviral medications, with another hundred on the waiting list. A report submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2002 concluded:

…Cuba exhibits the same problems as other countries in the region, since the confidentiality of diagnoses, access to public services, work, and health care, all tend to be brought into serious question when one lives with HIV/AIDS.310

In 1986, the Cuban government began committing all persons who tested positive for HIV to sanitariums. That policy was relaxed in 1993, with persons being allowed to leave following eight weeks of courses on how to take care of themselves, how to obtain follow-up care, how to avoid the spread of infection, and how to handle discrimination. As of early 2003, 48 percent of persons known to be HIV-positive had opted to remain in the island nation’s sixteen sanitariums. Those who remain typically have been rejected by family members, have lost their jobs, or fear discrimination. All persons who test positive for HIV are issued a special identification card that identifies them as having a fatal illness.


CIEN HORAS CON FIDEL [One Hundred Hours With Fidel]
by Ignacio Ramonet, published by the Cuban Council of State, April 2006
Based on conversations between 2003 and 2005.

The book is 718 pages long. These excerpts appeared on pages 222-225 of the second edition.
The book is dedicated to Fidel's friend Alfredo Guevara,  and Ramonet's children, Tancrede and Axel.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

One of the things the Revolution was criticized about in its first years is that it was said to display an aggressive, repressive attitude towards homosexuals, that there were camps where the homosexuals were locked away and repressed. What can you say about that?

In two words, you’re talking about a supposed persecution of homosexuals.

I have to tell you about the origins of that and where that criticism came from. I do assure you that homosexuals were neither persecuted nor sent to internment camps.

But there are so many testimonies of that...

Let me tell you about the problems we had. In those first years we were forced to mobilize almost the whole nation because of the risks we were facing, which included that of an attack by the United States: the dirty war, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Missile Crisis… Many people were sent to prison then. And we established the Mandatory Military Service.

We had three problems at that time: we needed people of a certain school level to serve in the Armed Forces, people capable of handling sophisticated technology, because you could not do it if you had only reached second, third or sixth grade; you needed at least seventh, eighth or ninth grade, and a higher level later on. We had some graduates, but also had to take some men out of the universities before graduation. You can’t deal with a surface-to-air rocket battery if you don’t have a University degree.

A degree on Sciences, I assume.

You know that very well. There were hundreds of thousands of men who had an impact on many branches, not only on the preparation programs, but economic branches as well. Yet some were unskilled, and the country needed them as a result of the brain-drain we enforced in production centers. That’s a problem we had then.

Second, there were some religious groups which, out of principles or doctrines, refused to honor the flag or accept using weapons of any kind, something some people eventually used as an excuse to criticize or be hostile.

Third, there was the issue of the homosexuals. At the time, the mere idea of having women in Military Service was unthinkable… Well, I found out there was a strong rejection of homosexuals, and at the triumph of the Revolution, the stage we are speaking of, the machista element was very much present, together with widespread opposition to having homosexuals in military units.

Because of those three factors, homosexuals were not drafted at first, but then all that became a sort of irritation factor, an argument some people used to lash out at homosexuals even more.

Taking those three categories into account we founded the so-called Military Units to Support Production (UMAP) where we sent people from the said three categories: those whose educational level was insufficient; those who refused to serve out of religious convictions; or homosexual males who were physically fit. Those were the facts; that’s what happened.

So they were not internment camps? 

Those units were set up all throughout the country for purposes of work, mainly to assist agriculture. That is, the homosexuals were not the only ones affected, though many of them certainly were, not all of them, just those who were called to do mandatory service in the ranks, since it was an obligation and everyone was participating.

That’s why we had that situation, and it’s true they were not internment units, nor were they punishment units; on the contrary, it was about morale, to give them a chance to work and help the country in those difficult circumstances. Besides, there were many who for religious reasons had the chance to help their homeland in another way by serving not in combat units but in work units.

Of course, as time passed by those units were eliminated. I can’t tell you now how many years they lasted, maybe six or seven years, but I can tell you for sure that there was prejudice against homosexuals. 

Do you think that prejudice stemmed from machismo? 

It was a cultural thing, just as it happened with women. I can tell you that the Revolution never promoted that, quite the opposite; we had to work very hard to do away with racial prejudice here. Concerning women, there was strong prejudice, as strong as in the case of homosexuals. I’m not going to come up with excuses now, for I assume my share of the responsibility. I truly had other concepts regarding that issue. I had my own opinions, and I was rather opposed and would always be opposed to any kind of abuse or discrimination, because there was a great deal of prejudice in that society. Whole families suffered for it. The homosexuals were certainly discriminated against, more so in other countries, but it happened here too, and fortunately our people, who are far more cultured and learned now, have gradually left that prejudice behind.

I must also tell you that there were –and there are– extremely outstanding personalities in the fields of culture and literature, famous names this country takes pride in, who were and still are homosexual, however they have always enjoyed a great deal of consideration and respect in Cuba. So there’s no need to look at it as if it were a general feeling. There was less prejudice against homosexuals in the most cultured and educated sectors, but that prejudice was very strong in sectors of low educational level –the illiteracy rate was around 30% those years– and among the nearly-illiterate, and even among many professionals. That was a real fact in our society.

Do you think that prejudice against homosexuals has been effectively fought?

Discrimination against homosexuals has been largely overcome. Today the people have acquired a general, rounded culture. I'm not going to say there is no machismo, but now it's not anywhere near the way it was back then, when that culture was so strong. With the passage of years and the growth of consciousness about all of this, we have gradually overcome problems and such prejudices have declined. But believe me, it was not easy.


Quotes from the principal leader of the Cuban Revolution:

(Excerpted from Face to Face with Fidel Castro:
A Conversation with Tomas Borge
- Ocean Press 1992: 139-141)

Tomás Borge: Many people think that there is sexual discrimination in Cuba. What are your views on homosexuality, lesbianism and free love?

Fidel Castro: Well, Tomás, you're asking me questions that are more appropriate for the confessional. You're acting like a priest, not a journalist, asking me what I think about such things, but I won't refuse to answer.

You spoke about sexual discrimination. I already told you that we have eradicated sexual discrimination. More precisely, we have done the most any government can do to put an end to discrimination against women.

It has been a long struggle and it has been successful and achieved great results in ending discrimination against women, but I can't say that such discrimination has been entirely eradicated. We still have some male chauvinists; I think that there is much less male chauvinism here than in any other Latin American country, but it still exists. It has been a part of our people's character for centuries and had many causes, running from the Arab influence in Spain to other influences by the Spaniards themselves, because we inherited male chauvinism — and many other bad habits — from the conquistadores.

That was an historical legacy — stronger in some countries than in others — but in no country have the people fought harder against male chauvinism than in ours, and I don't think that any country has achieved greater tangible and practical results in this struggle than Cuba. We have made a real advance — we can see it, especially in the young people, but we can't say that sexual discrimination has been completely wiped out and we mustn't lower our guard. We must continue struggling in this regard, because male chauvinism is an historical, ancestral legacy. We've struggled hard against it, made progress and obtained results, but we must keep on struggling.

I'm not going to deny that, at one point, male chauvinism also influenced our attitude toward homosexuality. I, myself — you're asking me for my own opinion — don't have any phobia against homosexuals. I've never felt that phobia and I've never promoted or supported policies against homosexuals. I would say that it corresponded to a given stage and is largely associated with that, legacy of male chauvinism. I try to have a more humane, scientific approach to the problem. Often, it becomes a tragedy,; because of what the parents think — some parents turn it into a tragedy. It's really too bad they react this way and make it a tragedy for the individual, as well.

I don't consider homosexuality to be a phenomenon of degeneration. I've always had a more rational approach, considering it to be one of the natural aspects and tendencies of human beings which should be respected. That's how I view it. 1: think there should be consideration for a family in this situation. It would be good if the families themselves had another mentality, another approach, when a circumstance of this nature occurs. I am absolutely opposed to any form of repression, contempt, scorn or discrimination with regard to homosexuals. That's what I think.

Tomás Borge: Can a homosexual be a member of the Communist Party?

Fidel Castro: There has been a lot of prejudice concerning all this — that's a fact. But we've concentrated our struggle against prejudices of another kind.

For example, men's and women's conduct was judged by different standards. We had that for years in the Party, and I waged battles and argued a lot about it. If a man was unfaithful, it didn't constitute a problem or a worry, but, if a woman was unfaithful, that became the subject of discussion in the Party nucleus. There was a double standard, for judging the sexual relations of men and women. I had to fight hard, very hard, against those deep-rooted prejudices. There wasn't any doctrine or education in this regard; instead, there were many male chauvinist concepts and prejudices in our society.

I haven't answered your question about free love. I don't know exactly what you mean by free love, but, interpreting it as the freedom to love, I don't have any objection to it.

Declaration of Cuban Educational Congress (1971)

Concerning Sex
The social problem of sex and the ideas and concepts on this matter were analyzed by the Commission. The Commission made a general study of sexual relations, with special attention being given to the question of sex among adolescents and young people.

A review was made of the transformation that has taken place in the matter of sexual relations as they existed in the prerevolutionary society, when such relations were dependent on a system of exploitation, on the profound social inequality and on the violence brought about by the evil of prostitution and the various ways of commercialization of sex, with its sequel of aberrations.

At present, the structural transformation and development of our society have definitively eradicated these manifestations, typical of the exploiting system but- as happens in every revolutionary process- the change has brought about new contradictions which demand a constant fort at creative renovation in behavior social habits and ideas. '

The general opinion is that coeducational d teaching should be extended, With the exception of those courses which b f their very nature make it impossible, an a that opportune and adequate information on sexual relations and the process o procreation should be given, in which true and scientific answers to the children' ° and adolescents' questions would be given both in school and at home. To do away with ignorance and prejudice in this mat matter, the facts dealing with this subject must be taught in the course of general teaching, without it being necessary to establish special courses.

It was also noted that it is indispensable ~ to understand correctly the true importance of different contradictions within the i context of the various fronts of revolutionary activity, that priority should consequently be given to the material and ideological defense and socio-economic development, which are the fields of fundamental antagonism. That the changes in the field of sexual relations stem from society itself as it progresses in the social, cultural and economic fields and continues to acquire an ideology that is more consistently revolutionary.

Finally, emphasis was placed on the respect for the feelings and opinions of the young, on how to find out their points of view, on how to give them the possibility of holding discussions and on how to nurture a concept of what love means in the constitution of the human couple and the motives that should unite it, not merely from the biological viewpoint but from the idea of ji,am fi;fo;;,emt. which includes reciprocal admiration and deep esteem based not only on biological and aesthetic but also- and fundamentally- social, political and moral values.

A study of prostitution was made through its socio-economic origin within bourgeois society, as was its total liquidation in the course of these years of revolutionary work that has transformed our society. It was agreed that its residual manifestations fall rather within the field of delinquency than anything else.

The social pathological character of homosexual deviations was recognized It was resolved that all manifestations of homosexual deviations are to be firmly rejected and prevented from spreading.

It was pointed out, however, that a study, investigation and analysis of this complex problem should always determine the measures to be adopted.

It was decided that homosexuality should not be considered a central prob- lem or a fundamental one in our society, but that its attention and solution are necessary.

A study was made of the origin and mass media and its infinite prospects oblige our revolutionary society to fight against the contamination of the air by imperialist ideology through the creation of ideological antibodies to neutralize its lethal effects. The only alternative reality permits is struggle, not asepsis. Hence the imperative need to engage systematically in a series of public debates, analyses, studies and appraisals that will pre- pare the masses to face critically every form of expression of bourgeois ideology.

Moreover, we should search for revolutionary methods with which to combat the possible infiltration of imperialist cinema and television through the system of satellites.

It isn't by averting our face, but rather by waging an open battle that we can win in this irreconcilable struggle against imperialist ideology.

Considering their implications and con- sequences, the problems posed in education by the social environment call for solutions aimed at eradicating the roots that sustain them.

ln the field of ideological struggle there is no room for palliatives or half measures. The only alternative is a clearcut uncompromising stand.

There is room only for ideological co- existence with the spiritual creation of the revolutionary peoples, with socialist culture, with the forms of expression of Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Paraphrasing Jose Marti, we say: "Let the world be grafted onto our Revolution but the trunk must be our Revolution."

The development of the artistic and literary movement in our country must be based on the consolidation and growth of the amateur movement, aiming at the broad cultural development of the masses and opposing all elitist tendencies.

Socialism creates the objective and subjective conditions which make possible real freedom of creation. Thus, all trends are condemnable and inadmissible which are based on apparent ideas of freedom as a disguise for the counterrevolutionary poison of works that conspire against the revolutionary ideology on which the construction of socialism and communism is based, an effort to which our people are firmly committed and in whose spirit the new generations are educated.

The Congress feels that in selecting workers for the institutions of the super- structure such as universities, mass media and literary and artistic institutions, political and ideological conditions should be taken into account, since their work will have a direct influence on the application of the cultural policy of the Revolution.

The rules governing the national and international literary- contests sponsored by our cultural institutions must be revised, along with the revolutionary conditions of the members of the juries and the basis for the awards.

At the same time, it is also necessary to establish a strict system for inviting foreign writers and intellectuals, to avoid the presence of persons whose works or ideology are opposed to the interests of the Revolution, especially in the forma- tion of the new generations, and who have participated in ideological diversionist activities encouraging their local flunkeys.

Cultural institutions cannot serve as a platform for false intellectuals who try to make snobbery, extravagant conduct, homosexuality and other social aberrations into expressions of revolutionary art, isolated from the masses and the spirit of the Revolution.

The Congress feels that both in music and in other forms of art and literature, efforts should be made:

1.--To work on the development of our own forms and revolutionary cultural values.

2. -To develop an understanding of the cultural values of the brother nations of Latin America.

3.- To assimilate the best of universal culture without having it imposed on us from abroad.

4.-- To develop educational programs for teaching the nature and origin of Cuban music.

Culture affects the reality which creates it and takes part in the struggle of the peoples that have been the victims of oppression throughout the centuries of colonialism and capitalist exploitation.

Culture, like education, is not and can- not be apolitical or impartial, because it is a social and historical phenomenon conditioned by the needs of social classes and their struggles and interests through- out history. Apoliticalism is nothing more than a reactionary and shamefaced attitude in the cultural field.

For the bourgeoisie, the elimination of the cultural elements of its class and system represents the elimination of culture as such.

For the working class and people in general, the culture born of the revolutionary struggle is the conquest and development of the most valuable of humanity's cultural heritage which the exploiters kept them from for centuries.

The revolutionary intellectual must aim his work at the elimination of all hangovers of the old society that still remain during the period of transition from capitalism to socialism.


Lee Lockwood, Castro's Cuba, Cuba's Fidel (1965), p.124
LOCKWOOD: There has apparently been an organized effort by men in your government to deal firmly with homosexuals, some of whom were in positions of responsibility. It seemed that a general, naively conceived effort was under way to stamp out homosexuality.

CASTRO: That problem has not been sufficiently studied nor sufficiently analyzed, nor to I believe that definitive norms exist yet anywhere in relation to this very delicate problem.

We have considered it our duty to take at least minimum measures to the effect that those positions in which one might have a direct influence upon children and young people should not be in the hands of homosexuals, above all in educational centers.

LOCKWOOD: Is it our position that if one is a homosexual, one cannot be a Revolutionary?

CASTRO: Nothing prevents a homosexual from professing revolutionary ideology and, consequently, exhibiting a correct political position. In this case he should not be considered politically negative. And yet we would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true Revolutionary, a true Communist militant.  A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant Communist must be.

But above all, I do not believe that anybody has a definitive answer as to what causes homosexuality. I think the problem must be studied very carefully. But I will be frank and say that homosexuals should not be allowed in positions where they are able to exert influence upon young people.  In the conditions under which we live, because of the problems which our country is facing, we must inculcate your youth with the spirit of discipline, of struggle, of work.  In my opinion, everything that tends to promote in our youth the strongest possible spirit, activities related in some way with the defense of the country, such as sports, must be promoted.  This attitude may or may not be correct, but it is our honest feeling.

It may be in some cases a person is homosexual for pathological reasons. It would indeed by arbitrary if such a person were maltreated for something over which he has no control.  You can only ask yourself when assigning a person to a position of responsibility, what are the factors which might help that person do his job well, and what are those that might hinder him?